Opinion

Local members must take note of Vic results and act

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

The Victorian election on Saturday will have alarm bells ringing in Coalition circles.

Its inability to articulate a message was punished by voters who want stable and effective political leadership.

This election, coupled with recent by-election results, also shows even traditionally safe seats are under threat if the constituency does not believe it is being adequately represented.

From a local perspective our incumbents must take notice or suffer the consequences.

At state level, there are serious questions about the ability of The Nationals Member for Murray Austin Evans to influence decision-making that benefits his electorate.

To be fair, he lacks support from a weak party that is not prepared to stand up to Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her city-based Liberal colleagues.

A prime example is the refusal of both Ms Berejiklian and her Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton to even meet with local representatives this month to develop common-sense decision making around our region’s timber industry. Mr Evans, backed by his leader John Barilaro, should have demanded more support on this issue but, as has become the norm, this was not forthcoming.

Likewise, our region continues to suffer from poor water policy and management with neither Mr Evans nor his Coalition colleagues able to effect positive change.

The key question remains: When the NSW election is held next March will the electorate believe there is no better alternative to The Nationals, or say “we want to give someone else a go”?

On present indications we believe the latter is the most likely scenario and it will take serious action in a range of key areas for Mr Evans to continue in politics.

At federal level Liberal Sussan Ley has a massive majority as Member for Farrer and history tells us her seat is safe enough.

However, in recent times political history has been thrown on its head and Ms Ley needs to be extremely careful or she could become another casualty.

Her Achilles heel is not doubt in water policy, where there is considerable frustration around her inability to influence changes necessary to protect her electorate.

There is widespread anger around the Nationals Water Minister David Littleproud’s failure to acknowledge policy adjustments that are needed for this region, as well as Ms Ley’s inability to convince Mr Littleproud or her Liberal colleagues of current policy shortcomings.

Just like the timber legislation at state level, decisions revolve around protecting environmental votes in city seats at the expense of regional communities, which the modern day Coalition, including The Nationals, are prepared to sacrifice for political gain.

At the same time, we have Queensland politician Bob Katter able to secure hundreds of millions of dollars for water infrastructure because of his political influence over the Coalition.

That may tell us that our electorate would be better served by an independent or a representative of a smaller, more influential party than a Member who constantly must bow to the demands of others, like Mr Littleproud, who appear to put political ambition ahead of protecting smaller pockets of the nation.

For Ms Ley, like Mr Evans, the message is clear. Whereas in the past the Coalition, whether Liberal or Nationals, could take for granted their victories across our region that may no longer be the case.

Both have only a short time to convince us they deserve another term. On present performance, we do not think they do.