THE Liberal Party has been accused of selling access to NSW Premier Mike Baird during his visit to Albury next week.
Former Labor candidate and Albury councillor Darren Cameron slammed the lack of one-on-one access to Mr Baird for local mayors and council general managers when the Premier attends two private functions.
Cr Cameron said former Labor Premier Kristina Keneally attended the annual Harold Mair dinner in 2010 when she was in Albury to open the Local Government conference.
“It is reasonable when there are serious concerns about the state of roads in some of the rural councils, people should be given the opportunity to speak directly to the Premier when he is visiting,” Cr Cameron said.
“Otherwise why is he visiting?
“Is it because the only opportunity people have to talk to him will be if they pay for access and go to a fund-raiser at the Albury Club?
“We’ve had fund-raisers in the past, but our premier was available to meet with people when she visited.”
Mr Baird will arrive in Albury next Thursday and, after some official engagements, will attend an evening function before appearing at a business breakfast organised by the Albury Northside chamber of commerce the next day.
Mr Aplin said the mayors and general managers of local councils had been invited to both functions.
He said suggestions the Liberal Party was charging for access to the Premier were “nonsense”.
“I would like to point out to that particular character (Cr Cameron), who can’t stop himself talking on any particular subject, they have had dinners in the past to raise funds,” Mr Aplin said.
“On the very small issue we are having down here it is an opportunity to cover costs for people, including mayors and general managers.
“It is an opportunity for people to meet with the Premier and it is wonderful to have him here in our town.
“The mayors and general managers were personally invited, first verbally and secondly in writing.
“There is a small cost to attend, just as there is for the chamber function.”
Mr Aplin said there was no time for a separate meeting between mayors and Mr Baird.
“But as they are local government matters, I am happy to arrange a meeting with the Local Government minister,” Mr Aplin said.
“The Premier is here for a very short time and he has got an extremely busy itinerary.”