Andrew Fraser is a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and has been representing Coffs Harbour for the last 28 years. During his long career he has seen many changes here on the Coffs Coast and after the announcement of his upcoming retirement, we asked him to tell us about some of his career highlights and the achievements he is most proud of.
Hi Andrew. Tell us a little about your relationship with the Coffs Coast.
I have lived on the Coffs Coast for the past 40 years and have seen the area grow from a sleepy town where bananas were the main industry, to a vibrant tourism and sporting hub.
With the banana industry in decline in recent years, the blueberries industry has flourished and now produces in excess of $30 million in produce each year.
Where did your interest in politics start?
I have always been interested in helping my local community and prior to entering State Parliament in 1990, I was an active Member of Apex, serving as President, Youth Director and a Community Service Director. I was also a Past President and Member of the Tyalla Public School P&C Association, and a Past Trustee of the Coffs Harbour Showground Committee. In addition, I was a Past Chairman of the Australia Day Committee.
What would you say was your greatest career achievement?
It is difficult to say what my greatest career achievement has been, as there are too many to mention.
I do take great pride in the establishment of the Coffs Harbour Education Campus, which incorporates a senior high school, TAFE and university campus. These three educational disciplines have meant that thousands of Coffs Harbour students have been able to study in Coffs Harbour and have not had to travel to major cities to study.
The Pacific Highway upgrade is another career achievement, and we are soon to finally see a four-lane divided highway between Sydney and Tweed Heads.
The new Coffs Harbour Justice Centre, incorporating a new police station and court house, is another career highlight. It replaced the antiquated and cramped conditions under which the police and justice staff were working in for many years.
The Coffs Harbour Health Campus has been allocated $194 million for an upgrade, which will serve the people of the Coffs Harbour electorate for many years to come.
Over my time as the Member for Coffs Harbour, there have been millions of dollars poured into local sports facilities and events over many years, which has made Coffs Harbour the go to destination for many people, be they sports people or festival attendees.
I was able to negotiate to get the World Rally Championships to the Coffs Coast. This international event is one of the world’s most diverse, exciting and gruelling motor sports competitions. It is always spectacular, dramatic and unpredictable, and the WRC demands drivers show plenty of skill, courage and passion. It is watched by a global audience of millions.
The Coffs Coast has also been fortunate in holding major ladies golf tournaments, the Australian Ladies Classic – Bonville and the Women’s NSW Open Golf Championships.
These events not only put Coffs Harbour on the national map, but also on the international stage.
You are New South Wales’ longest serving State Parliamentarian in office, and you will be retiring in 2019. What would be the one thing you will miss the most?
I will miss the opportunity to participate in the robust parliamentary debate and not being able to influence policy, apart from being a private citizen.
Looking over some of your photos in the office, you have met some very famous characters. Who stands out to you and why?
The most famous people I have met were Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. When Kerrie and I were lucky enough to meet them in 1992, they both stopped and showed concern in relation to an East Coast low that was threatening Coffs Harbour. They asked how my constituents were faring with this adverse weather condition. For people in such a high station in life, to be concerned about the constituents of the Coffs Harbour electorate, gave me an absolute admiration for their knowledge and concern.
What are some things you have learnt about the Coffs Coast community in the time that you have served here?
The Coffs Coast community is a vibrant, vocal community that openly welcomes international events and visitors. The people of the Coffs Harbour electorate take great pride in their local area, and there are so many people who have contributed to the great community that it is.
What advice would you give to the person who takes your place once you retire?
The best advice I can give to whoever gets elected as the next Member for Coffs Harbour is to be prepared for long hours, busy weekends and most of all, retain the current office staff who have worked diligently for me for many years, as they have an extensive knowledge of the Coffs Harbour community. Their wealth of knowledge will be invaluable to the incoming Member for Coffs Harbour.
What are you looking forward to in your retirement?
In my retirement, I am very much looking forward to spending more time with Kerrie and my family, travelling as much as I can, playing as much golf as I can and following Rally events.