We need to make Gippsland marginal


ANOTHER election, another comfortable win for the Nationals in the seat of Gippsland, with Darren Chester enjoying a 15.8 per cent lead over his nearest rival.

With Gippsland being held by the same party since 1922 (more or less – it used to be called ‘the Country Party’), you would imagine that everyone here, well, at least 70 per cent of people, have no issues at all, and if they did, they are best served by having the Nationals in power to preserve their way of life and increasing prosperity.

I find this concept staggering, particularly in light of the recent failings of the Abbott government and the far right ideology that became evident in his first budget.

This budget was a kick in the guts for those who find themselves in an unprivileged position in society (the unemployed, the disabled, the sick, the young), and a big hand up for those who really don’t need it (the wealthy).

When the Coalition came to power in 2013 it removed the $50 million Clean Energy Hub which was designed to help transition those in the Latrobe valley, who work in the coal industry, into other streams of employment in recognition of the eventual need to transition our power source from coal to renewable energy.

What is to happen to these workers in the future, when the world can no longer support highly polluting brown coal power stations?

Who will the Nationals blame then?

The Australian electorate is getting so tired of the constant bickering, one-upmanship and all round dishonesty, that it is little wonder we have had an election result like the one we have just had, yet it is still amazing that both these historically dishonest parties secure such a large proportion of the vote.

Why don’t Gippslanders try and give the Nationals and Coalition a strong message by electing another party … any party, or an independent?

A swinging seat gets more attention than the safe ones, and you can’t get any safer than Gippsland.

If you read the Herald-Sun and derive your opinions from it, you are always going to vote for the Coalition, and if you enjoy brain washing that much, give me a million dollars, give me a million dollars, give me a million dollars … or maybe it’s time we stop compulsory voting to reduce the vote of those who cannot think for themselves.

In Gippsland, we face the threat of coal seam gas mining, which has the potential of contaminating aquifers (it cannot be undone) and destroying the image of Gippsland’s great agricultural industry, one of the best and cleanest industries in the country and in the world.

The Nationals want to put this at risk for the sake of a few quick bucks.

If the Nationals really represent the farming community, why then do so many of its retired members now work for the mining industry which bulldozes over the needs and concerns of the farmers they claimed to represent?

While this sort of behaviour is not limited to the Nationals (both major parties do it), they are the only ones that simultaneously claim to represent the farming body.

It is worth noting that the Nationals’ largest donor is the mining industry.

This could be why they will never tackle climate change seriously or rein in mining licenses now 87 per cent of Gippsland is covered by mining licenses.

Despite some of their biggest and most loyal supporters repeatedly telling their representatives that they don’t want a coal seam gas industry here, and repeating themselves, over and over, meeting after meeting, protest after protest, they feel they are not being listened to.

They confide in their local member in anguish, that they don’t know who to vote for if they can’t vote for the Nationals (at a state or federal level) the loyalty for them is so strong.

While the Nationals did help put a moratorium on the CSG industry, I am sure they are hoping the state Labor government will allow the industry to begin drilling, so they can wipe their hands and say, “We didn’t put it in place”.

But you can be guaranteed they will do nothing to stop a CSG industry once it is up and running, nor will they object to it in the parliament, because it is want they want to keep the money rolling in from the mining sector.

We Gippslanders are so stuck in our ways despite National representatives placing us fourth or fifth in their list of priorities (first is to the faction that allowed them to be elected in the Nationals, then the lobbyist that gives money to the party, then the National Party, then the Liberal party, then you get a look in, as long as your views don’t clash with any of the above.

Maybe, one day, Gippslanders will see an alternative to the National party ruling in their name, but with a 15.8 per cent margin, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.