WILL 21,000 signatures in 21 days warrant a 21 minute meeting with Prime Minister, Tony Abbott?
Politics is a numbers game and the team behind the campaign for Better Roads and Safer Bridges is hoping its petition will open the door to the Prime Minister's office and federal government coffers.
Campaign organiser Greater Taree City councillor, Peter Epov thinks "we may come very close to 21,000" with the current count sitting at 20,700.
The pending final figure is more than double the original target set when the campaign hit the Manning Valley community in response to the decision of the federal government to withdraw $11.4 stage two funding that had been allocated Greater Taree City Council for its Roads and Bridges Package.
In recent weeks the petition has landed on countertops in businesses throughout the Manning Valley and into the hands of supporters deputy mayor Robyn Jenkins, Cr Brad Christensen and a large group of volunteers who set-up stalls at community and sporting events to explain the issues and to get people to sign in support of the petition objectives. The petition objectives are to get the $11.4 million restored to council, for the federal government to allocate additional funds to council for its roads and bridges program and for the federal government to establish and fund structures for providing direct funding to rural local government areas for roads and bridges.
The letter to the Prime Minister has been sent and according to Cr Epov, the signatures are a "decisive expression and a confirmation from a majority of people in the Manning Valley, in the clearest possible terms, that we have a major roads and bridges funding crisis, which must be urgently addressed."
"We will use this powerful mandate granted to us by the people of the valley to launch into a strategic integrated national lobby campaign. We will not stop at just delivering and tabling the petition in the House of Representatives, there is a great deal more to be done. For us the real work starts with turning the petition into constructive outcomes.
"This is a tremendous example of the community embracing our petition and uniting with a singular purpose of addressing a serious and important issue. People want to participate and they want to be engaged, it's a question of trust and methodology.
"We expected to close counting last Thursday, but we have received several phone calls and emails over the weekend advising us that there are still people out there who have not as yet returned completed petition forms, I hope that we can have all petitions returned to us this week, I suspect we may come very close to 21,000 signatures."
Cr Epov is keen to hit home the power of the petition and collated state and federal election statistics to hit home the significance of the signatures.
The 20,564 petition signatures represents 68.9 per cent of the 29,829 first preference / primary votes votes cast at the 2012 Greater Taree City Council elections.
At the 2007 Federal Election, the member for Lyne, Mark Vaile achieved 14,187 first preference / primary votes from the Greater Taree City LGA.
At the 2010 Federal Elections, the member for Lyne, Robert Oakeshott achieved 17,627 first preference / primary votes from the Greater Taree City LGA.
At the 2011 State election, the member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead achieved 13,065 first preference/primary votes from the Greater Taree City LGA.
At the 2013 Federal Election, the member for Lyne, Dr David Gillespie achieved 17,505 first preference / primary votes from the Greater Taree City LGA.