The NSW Nationals candidate for Barwon is a farmer and small business owner who has spent most of his life in western NSW.
As the owner of Gilgandra Poultry, Andrew Schier sells tens of thousands of chickens across the Central West, while also managing cattle and cropping on the family farm. But like many men in the country, the community is where his real passion lies; Andrew has been Chairman of the Western Racing Association for nine years, President of the Gilgandra Jockey Club for the past 22 years and he also serves as Vice-President of the Gilgandra Sporting Club.
Having grown up in Gilgandra, Andrew knows the region like the back of his hand. He’s worked shoulder-to-shoulder with people from all walks of life in the community, so it was only natural that he would step up and run for office.
As soon as Andrew was preselected, he made it a priority to get out and meet people in the communities that sprawled across the rural electorate so he better understands the issues each town face.
“There are a lot of opportunities coming along,” he said.
“The more young people we can keep in the community during those crucial years of 18 to 25, when they’re developing their skills, the greater chance we’ve got that they’ll stay in our towns, starts their families and buy their homes. That’s how we maintain and regenerate our communities, that’s what we need to work towards.”
The importance of home-grown training and education is something Andrew knows all too well. After school he moved to Bathurst to study a Diploma of Teaching at Charles Sturt University before moving home to take on the farm.
That farming identity is something that’s near and dear to Andrew’s heart, which is why he takes exception to “fake farmers” trying to undermine the region he loves.
“There are people out there saying this drought is the end of the world, that’s what my Shooters and Fishers competitor is saying, but anyone who’s been around for more than five minutes knows this drought is completely different to the one 15 years ago, to 25 years ago,” he said.
“He’s a hobby farmer, a pretend farmer, he doesn’t know what it’s like to make your living out here and he’s telling people they need a handout. Well guess what? There’ll be another drought and another one and these handouts won’t help anyone get in a better position to survive the next one, they’ll just keep people relying on government assistance. We deserve better than that and that’s why The Nationals have set up the innovation fund, to help drought-proof our farms.”
Andrew also had little time for the Labor candidate from Broken Hill, a “career politician” who claimed Barwon deserved better.
“Our people certainly deserve better than Labor,” Andrew said. “People know the hospitals are better than they were 10 years ago, the roads are better than they were under Labor – all they did for the Newell Highway was drop the speed limit and not spend a cent. We can’t afford to let them back in, not when we’re setting up our communities to not only survive but thrive.”
Plain-spoken and with a head full of common sense, Andrew Schier said he wanted to make Barwon the sort of place where families and businesses like his own could thrive and grow.