Answering call of the bush

Many rural voters in western NSW fear their votes are being taken for granted.

NEWS that northern NSW farmer Penny Blatchford will run on the Greens’ Senate ticket in NSW should send a timely reminder to the Coalition – and specifically The Nationals - that it cannot afford to take its heartland for granted.

The Greens last week beat the Coalition and Labor to the punch as the first party of the campaign to unveil its ag policy – and having a farmer on their Senate ticket can only help their bid to be taken seriously in the bush.

Of course Mrs Blatchford isn’t alone in turning her back on the Coalition.

Peter Mailler, the former chairman of Grain Producers Australia, is also having a tilt at a Senate seat, in his case for Katter’s Australian Party.

Both hail from safe Nationals electoral territory.

Yet both are also unconvinced of The Nationals’ ability to look after rural interests and not be outmuscled by their bigger city-based Coalition partner.

The results at the last election and potential for another tight result should give the major parties cause to pay closer attention to the bush. But that doesn’t mean they will.

Of the 14 rural seats in NSW, the Coalition holds eight.

Just four of those are held by the Nats, with margins ranging from 9.27 to 18pc.

All are considered safe or fairly safe seats. In fact two - Riverina and Parkes – are among the Coalition’s 10 safest seats in the country.

It’s little wonder then that many rural voters in western NSW fear their votes are being taken for granted.

That’s not to say they don’t have faith in their local members, who enjoy incredibly strong electoral support.

But nor do they expect their electorates to be paid much attention by Coalition or Labor powerbrokers, either in the way of personal visits, policies or promises – especially not when there are key seats to be won in western Sydney or the seats of two retiring Independents up for grabs.

However, Nationals MPs clearly aren’t ignoring rising political frustration levels in the bush, as demonstrated by this week’s heartening response to one of rural Australia’s most annoying themes – mobile phone reception.

The bush will be genuinely pleased by the Coalition’s promise of $100 million to address black spots in the mobile phone network.

May there be many more practical responses to the political challenges mounting up in regional Australia.

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


20/08/2013 4:11:04 AM

Whilst we have political parties that all have the common driving force in them of lust for the raw power of governing, there will be no improvement in the performance of our major parties. There needs to be more regard for the good of the nation and its people, a lot more altruism and less rough and careless handling of the facts. Pretty utopian hope. I reckon they should hand out free Mogadon during election campaigns to help the long suffering public get through it.
20/08/2013 6:09:49 AM

The Libs and Nationals have been married so long. The Libs fart in the bed... and the Nats don't even notice.
20/08/2013 9:35:23 AM

The libs keep making noises about Labor getting cosy with the Greens et al to form a coalition of sorts to govern. Without the Nats in coalition they could never form a government but when they are elected conveniently forget the bush until another election is due then throw a few crumbs and hope we don't make too much noise. You never see or hear Truss until an election is called!!
20/08/2013 11:50:03 AM

On Sept 7 anyone who is in a safe National seat needs to walk in to the polling booth - grit their teeth hold the pencil tight with both hands (to stop it shaking) and vote for ANYONE but the Nats. The election is in the bag, we don't have to worry about another 3 years of Labor. Now is the time for rural Australia to do something to get Canberra's attention.
20/08/2013 4:18:24 PM

Well said "'qlander"hope this suggestion goes viral. Wouldn't it be a hoot if a few Greens got up in safe Nats seats and made them have to get their snouts out of the trough and actually represent their constituents. lmao!!!
21/08/2013 6:03:55 AM

Ideally I would like to see the Nats just squeak over the line in a marginal seat. They have become fat and lazy on easy votes- it's time to put them on a vote diet.
21/08/2013 9:49:55 AM

Both major parties (Lib and Lab) are solely focussed on Western Sydney. That means they have created a wealth shift from regional Aus to cities. As one example, the Colesworth duopoly gives cheap food prices to cities at the expense of most farmers. So where the bloody hell are the Nats? Meekly submitting to their Liberal masters. I agree with qlander but would rather see them fall just short, cos they won't get the message if they squeak over the line.
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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