I was interested, though not surprised, to see Tony Windsor (an ex-National) make some similar points to my last blog post – basically that the Coalition (which is to say, in this context, the National party) has little to do with supporting the needs of country people. Here’s the last half of his speech from yesterday.
The final thing that I’d say … and you’ll all go and look at my maiden speech after this because, and I hadn’t looked at it for quite some time, it’s not really worth reading. But I’ll go to part of it that I think was because I think it’s very pertinent to today’s decision.
Obviously many people would have thought the electorate of New England, given its history, the member would possibly vote for the coalition.
When I first came into this place and when I was in the State parliament, one of the fascinating parts about the political process was how country people never took advantage of their vote. Their vote was always sidelined and in a sense the National Party, until recently the Country Liberal party was seen as the representative of country people.
What has happened through the amalgamation, or the coalition of the Nationals and the Liberal Party, is that the country vote and the same applies to country Labor and the Labor Party, the country vote has been subsumed into the two major parties which are dominated by the city based majority.
And the elections have been fought in the Western suburbs of our major cities, so that country issues haven’t really come to the foore in relation to the policy debate because they’ve been assumed by one side and taken for granted by the other.
And the fact that there are country independents in this building indicates that country people have had enough of that … particularly over the last 15 years, where the two major parties are actually virtually the same in terms of policy, a few minor changes on the side and we saw that at the election where Tony Abbott went to the polls with the union movement’s industrial relations legislation. And Julia Gillard went to the polls with the Liberal Party’s boat people policy.
So we’ve seen this merging of philosophies in a sense, and in that there is an enormous opportunity for country people through their representatives to deal with either side of the parliament and actually take political advantage of that moment.
And that’s exactly what we’re doing here, exactly what we’re doing here, is actually taking advantage of that moment and sending a signal to country people that if you wanted to be taken for granted in the future, go back to the old ways because that’s exactly what will happen to you.
The admission by both parties through their various documents … the admission is that they have neglected country Australians and they are attempting through this process because of the way the numbers have been crunched to try and rectify that particular situation.
So I make this plea to country people, some of whom who don’t agree with the Labor Party, this isn’t about philosophy. Philosophy, in terms of both these parties, died about a decade ago or probably longer. This is about using the political system to advantage the people we represent and those people in regional Australia.
I do conclude, my vote will be going to the Gillard government. I won’t support trivial no-confidence motions, I will support supply and I will reserve the right to represent my constituency on any vote in parliament, I also reserve the right to move a no-confidence motion in the government as I see fit.