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We’re not short of problems

By Tatura Guardian

That was an election result most did not see coming.

The conventional wisdom is that parties are punished for dumping elected prime ministers.

Obviously, that has not happened this time.

There was a clear choice, and, generally, the voters decided that they did not want the economic reforms the Labor party were selling.

Whether that was due to the policies themselves, the messaging or the popularity of the leader will be analysed deeply in the coming months.

What does it mean for Greater Shepparton?

It means our re-elected member Damian Drum is in government, and not opposition, which makes access to decision makers easier.

The debate as to whether the Coalition budget passed before caretaker mode is moot.

The $208million for the bypass is locked in, a great result for the region.

Hopefully the state government can move to capitalise on the momentum.

The funding commitments for La Trobe University and the cancer centre are also locked in.

The big consequence is around water policy.

Even some residents of the Goulburn Valley who support Labor and their reform agenda were worried about Tony Burke’s attitude to extracting more water from the consumptive pool, and the impact on our economy.

Irrigation water is already unaffordable this season — an extra 450 gigalitres sent to South Australia would make a bad situation worse.

The deal struck between David Littleproud and the basin state governments on a socio-economic test stands, and this is a good thing for agriculture in the region.

One aspect of the Nicholls result that does not jell with the inclusive agenda of the Committee for Greater Shepparton is the relatively high One Nation vote (11.3per cent).

I am sure this is a symptom of people hurting — many of our people are doing it tough and have turned off the major parties.

Our advocacy effort is designed to help give people opportunity through economic development.

But multiculturalism and the embracing of our indigenous culture have and continue to be positive things for our region, not negative.

We need to continue to argue against the politics of fear.

We must continue to engage with Labor at a federal level.

They missed out this time, but they will form government one day.

The better they understand our region and people the better their policy making will be toward us.

Also, I sense a disconnect between many of our people and this result.

People do want some action on climate change, not a government pretending it does not exist.

They do want some economic reform to ensure equality of opportunity.

There is a cross bench that will insist on all of this, including newly elected Helen Haines in the neighboring seat of Indi.

There has been much reflection this week on our great consensus prime minister, the late Bob Hawke.

Hawke was a problem-solver, not an ideologue.

We are not short of problems and we have a divided country.

There is a lack of civility in public discourse.

It is up to Scott Morrison to lift the tone of the debate, create a culture that unites the people and finds the solutions.

  • Sam Birrell is the chief executive of the Committee for Greater Shepparton.