Calare residents have demonstrated a strong political activism over several issues. Image: Georgia Holland
The retiring John Cobb previously held Parkes from 2001-2007.
Current issues affecting Calare include water security, land use and environmental issues.
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Long time member John Cobb declared in February that he will not be running in the 2016 election. While in recent years he and the National Party have held the seat, Calare also contains a sizeable Labor Party following.
Calare covers an area from Lithgow in the east to Eugowra in the west, Wellington and Mudgee Councils in the north to Blayney and Oberon in the south. Other main centres include Bathurst, Canowindra, Eugowra, Gulgong, Kandos, Molong, Orange, Portland, Rylstone, Wallerawang and Yeoval.
Current issues affecting the electorate include water security and the increasing use of ice (a form of methamphetamine) among young people.
Water supply is a big issue, with competition between residents, agricultural users and mines for the precious resource. The issue was recently highlighted by a proposal from the mining company Regis Resources to pipe water from the Macquarie River at Bathurst to a proposed mine near Blayney. Locals voiced their concerns for the future of water in the region with letters and protest campaigns. One local, Edwin Ryan, who erected a hanged man on his property in protest, wrote to the local paper, saying: “Water is the life blood of our nation. It should not be sold for the sake of a short-term monetary gain”.
Meanwhile, there is a proposed new location for a dam to be built near Orange, named the ‘Cranky Rock Dam’. However, there are concerns it will cause local water levels to rise and submerge the Cliefden Caves. Supporters of the caves say this would destroy fossils and a rare thermal spring.
The small town of Wellington in the electorate's north is notorious for the amount of ice use. Little Antarctica and the South Pole are two of the nicknames given to the town as the drug is causing havoc in the community of 4500 people. The National Ice Taskforce, revealed in its report that Australians consume more ice then any other country with 2.1% of the population having used the drug in 2015. Rather than wait for a local response to the report, the residents of Wellington decided to act. A hotline called Dob a Dealer has been started where locals are encouraged to dob one another in. The hotline aims to cut down the drug's use and allow residents to help out without needing to visit a police station. The Dob a Dealer campaign has been successful in Wellington and will expand to other areas including Redfern and Dubbo.
Proposed nuclear dumping site
Political activism in the electorate reached a high after the federal government announced in November 2015 that Hill End, at the centre of the electorate, was shortlisted for a proposed nuclear waste dump. Residents were relieved after an April announcement that the historic village was no longer on the shortlist.
At a crowded public meeting in February, dozens of residents expressed their concerns about possible water contamination and the risk of nuclear waste transport. Hill End residents and representatives Robyn Rayner, Geoff Rayner and Jodie Carter met with advisors to the Minister for Resources in Canberra in early March.
As with water supply and the Wellington ice issue, the residents' action demonstrated a strong pro-activism, a characteristic which election candidates are likely to be wary of during the campaign.