Macadamia Castle owner Tony Gilding and Public INterest Environmental lawyer Sue Higginson announce their vision for a Lismore based Wildlife Hospital.
Macadamia Castle owner Tony Gilding and Public INterest Environmental lawyer Sue Higginson announce their vision for a Lismore based Wildlife Hospital. Marc Stapelberg

Greens select heavyweight candidate for Lismore election

HIGH profile public interest lawyer Sue Higginson is set to be announced today as the NSW Greens candidate for the seat of Lismore.

The announcement sets the stage for a compelling state election contest next year with two heavyweight contenders, in the form of Labor veteran Janelle Saffin and now Ms Higginson - to pit themselves against Nationals newcomer Austin Curtin.

A well known figure in Lismore, Ms Higginson was the solicitor for the Northern Rivers branch of the Environmental Defender's Office for several years and was instrumental in setting its local office up in 2006.

She is also a dry land rice farmer on the Richmond flood plain who raised her family in the region, and has garnered respect across the political divide for her principled legal work.

From 2012 she commuted to Sydney to take up the chief solicitor role with the EDO before becoming the organisation's CEO in 2015, until stepping down last November to become a member of the Greens, and seek pre-selection for the seat of Lismore.

Speaking to The Northern Star this morning, Ms Higginson said going into politics was a "very natural” progression after years of working to protect for the interests of regional communities via law reform.

She said a Parliamentarian's role was twofold - to be an advocate for the community, and to make new laws for the state - and said she was an "expert” on the complexities of the latter.

"I'm no stranger to Macquarie St,” she said.

"I've spent many long hours advising members of Parliament across the board.

"I feel that I am absolutely the most qualified candidate for Lismore.”

She has also lived in the Lismore region since her teens and has a grass roots activist past, having participated in anti-logging protests in the early 1990s before going on to become lawyer.

On the seat of Lismore, she said: "I strongly believe its time for a change here”.

"I feel the current two old parties are dramatically tied to certain interests. Both parties hands are tied - they're not free to do the work on behalf of the communities.”

Asked to name some of the issues she would be campaigning on, Ms Higginson declared she had "big plans”.

These include breaking down export barriers for small farmers, ensuring hospitals were better staffed, developing a comprehensive public transport plan, and ensuring NSW's current surplus of more than $5 billion was fairly and effectively shared in the regions.

She also called for greater investment in tourism infrastructure beyond the coast to make the most of the region's potential for tourism, more investment in clean energy and sustainable agriculture, and protecting the region's precious public forests.

She also declared she was "no ideologue” but out to achieve practical results, saying she was thrilled to be contesting the election and was "in it to win it”.