Meet the miner and small business owner who’s taking on Kiama MP Gareth Ward at next year’s state election.
Andy Higgins, a father-of-two from Kiama, has been preselected by the NSW Labor Party as its candidate to contest the Liberal-held seat at the March 2019 poll.
And while the 45-year-old likely faces an uphill battle to topple Mr Ward, he told the Mercury he would “absolutely” give the contest his all.
Mr Higgins said his passion for Kiama was the reason he threw his hat into the political ring. “I was born here, I’m third generation,” he said. “I’m overwhelmed with the support, absolutely blown away by how many people have come up to me and congratulated me.”
Mr Higgins – who is expected to be officially announced as Labor’s Kiama candidate on Friday – said he was excited about the opportunity to represent his community and be “a voice of change and prosperity”.
The first-time candidate described himself as being “truly passionate” about Kiama. A profile of Mr Higgins provided to the Mercury on Tuesday said he was “committed to ensuring this region gets its fair share of funding to bolster key services and infrastructure”.
“Anything successful is built on solid foundations and Andy will be working from the ground up,” the candidate’s profile said.
“Schools and education to support the next generation, health to support the current. Sustainable economy and environmental sustainability – for the now and for the future.”
Mr Higgins is a coal miner and owns Grace & Stone Collections, a Kiama-based business that offers sign-writing among its services.
Mr Ward has represented the seat of Kiama since 2011. Prior to that, it had been held by Labor since 1981. Mr Ward, who is also the Illawarra’s parliamentary secretary, defeated the Labor Party’s Glenn Kolomeitz at the 2015 election and holds the seat on a margin of 8.7 per cent.
Earlier this year, Mr Kolomeitz ruled himself out as a candidate and Matt Brown, the former Labor Member for Kiama, hosed down speculation he was considering a comeback.