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Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The New South Wales Nationals held their first Women's Council in Sydney on June 1-2 in the first step to create a body within the party to mentor and encourage regional women to enter politics.

The Council's first meeting brought together more than 80 women from around regional NSW to elect leadership positions and decide on the future direction of the Council in promoting regional women in politics.

Dubbo electorate representatives included Pauline McAllister, Marie Maguire, Brie Colley and Belinda Strahorn.

NSW Nationals Chairman Mrs Christine Ferguson said the initiative was a welcome opportunity for regional women to share their skills and experience with others as well as to practice new skills, network and take their increased awareness and motivation back to help their communities.

"I am convinced the sheer talent and enthusiasm that was evident at this Council meeting will make this body a force to be reckoned with in representing regional women," Mrs Ferguson said.

"With a federal election looming, there is no better time for women within the NSW Nationals to take on a leadership role and also encourage others to get involved in representing their communities."

The NSW Minister for Women, Hon Pru Goward MP, was the first guest speaker at the two-day meeting, followed by a no less impressive list of female political powerhouses including the former Member for Riverina, Mrs Kay Hull; President of the NRMA, Wendy Machin; former president of the UN Women Australia, Sue Conde and Dr Jacky Abbott, president of the party's Federal Women's Council.

NSW Nationals female delegates from Electorate Councils joined current and former State and Federal Members of Parliament in discussing regional engagement strategies, maximising influence on policy and training opportunities over the two days.

Senator Fiona Nash, Jenny Gardiner MLC, Melinda Pavey MLC, Sarah Mitchell MLC and Leslie Williams MP played key roles in guiding delegate discussion on the aims of the Council and what it hoped to achieve.

Ballina Councillor Sharon Cadwallader was thrilled to be elected chairman of the new body following the productive two-day meeting.

"Two days of brainstorming has given us plenty of plans we would like to set in motion and I'm certain that together we will achieve great things for regional women sooner rather than later" Mrs Cadwallader said.

NSW Nationals Chairman Mrs Christine Ferguson  0409 147 057

NSW Nationals Women's Council Chairman Cr Sharon Cadwallader 0419 973 166

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