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Labor preselects youngest state candidate

Angus Braiden should be relishing some time off after just finishing his Higher School Certificate and should be planning something for Schoolies Week – but the 18 year-old is planning political strategies and on the campaign trail as Labor’s preselected candidate for Wollondilly.

He defeated one other local candidate.

At 18 years and two month, the Bowral resident is the youngest state candidate ever – he has never voted, but became a Labor member at age 15. He is under no illusion about the task ahead of him, but with team that has accrued thousands of campaign hours, he is optimistic he can make a difference.

“I have seen the community crumble in front of my eyes and I am sick of it,” Mr Braiden said.

“I am angry about all the stuff; we are losing our basic infrastructure and the heap of development that is coming in. We are the dumping ground of Sydney.

“I can’t sit around and do nothing about it. I wish I could go off on schoolies, but I just can’t do that with all the issues we have in this area.

“We need a community representative to represent us in parliament.”

He doesn’t shy away from the fact he comes from a working class background. His family are Labor voters, but not members.

“I was raised with Labor values; social equity, social justice and just helping your fellow man.”

He said the people of Wollondilly help each other and that’s been proven time and time again.

“This is who we are around here, we help our fellow man.”

Mr Briaden knows the Liberals hold Wollondilly with a healthy majority of 14.2 per cent, but still believes in having a go.

Mr Braiden worked consistently to sway preselectors and showed them he had a simple, but positive platform – his efforts were rewarded.

“I put forward the basic policies that were needed; I wasn’t asking for some huge platform policy.”

“Our roads are falling apart, our rail system is just gone, and we have complete under funding of our essential services.

“We have a community movement building around here; it’s very basic issues that we need fixed around here. We are not running on some extreme platform, we want to fix the basic issues – roads, transport and education.”

He said Wingecarribee had similar issues to Wollondilly.

Asked if he would support lowering the voting age to 16 as has been suggested in New Zealand, he would like to see optional voting for those aged 16-18.

He knows there is a lot of work to do between now and March 25, 2023 and in Wollondilly there are important issues such as Picton by-pass and the raising of Warragamba Dam wall.

He is vehemently opposed to the raising of wall citing the Aboriginal heritage that would be lost and the animal habitats that would be impacted.

He said there are other strategies that could be adopted “it’s not going to mitigate floods”.

“This will only negatively affects us, they have taken us for granted…”

He said over-development is another big issues with both Wingecarribee and Wollondilly which are earmarked to have 19,000 houses pushed through.

“We don’t have the services or infrastructure, we need controlled development, not over development.

“We will end up becoming a suburb of south west Sydney, and we are not, we are our own communities.”

While he will be utilising social media as a platform to highlight and explain polices, he will also be out and about.

“I am going to be talking to the community. I think there is a real disconnect.

“We are not going to be using social media to attack, but to explain our policies…and explain the effects.”

Mr Briaden wants a clean campaign and doesn’t want to attack.

“If they want to attack my age…I am going to focus on policy and what we can do for this area. I am going to focus on stuff that actually affects us.

“It doesn’t matter if there is an 18 year-old representing you to an 80 year-old as long as they are getting the policies done.”

He said the current political system is broken, with the constant personal attacks on individuals “rather than talking about your own policies”.

Having already been accepted for early entry to university, while he is looking at a combined law and engineering degree, his focus at the moment, is far away from any text book.

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