Those regular readers of Ernesto's Manifesto would be disappointed if there was no election commentary in the week before the Federal Election. Indeed some readers have been asking for my take on the goings on especially in relation to local issues, so here goes.
The electorate of Murray, now renamed Nicholls (after a redistribution) has long been a conservative stronghold.
For years we have had prominent local people calling on the electorate to break this nexus and "make Murray marginal".
The message appears to have been heard at a state level, with some encouraging results but change at a federal level, from the likeable incumbent, Damien Drum to an independent or ALP member is probably a bridge too far.
But let us look at the candidates challenging Damien Drum or more importantly their parties policies an a few key areas.
The One Nation candidate Rikkie-Lee Tyrrell was unable to attend the Shep News/CFGS forum but I understand she shares my concern with the policy that enables some of our precious water to be owned by overseas companies and then get sold back to us at ridiculous prices. See Ernesto's Manifesto of 24/04/2019 . Watergate anyone?
But apart from that she belongs to a racist, homophobic, climate denying party who sent their members to the USA to solicit funds from the NRA to undermine our strong gun laws implemented by John Howard.
Last place on the ballot is too good for One Nation!
What about Stewart Hine from the United Australia Party? He wants the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) plan abolished but offers no alternative. Make no mistake, Stewarts party, run by Clive Palmer is a real threat to Australian democracy. This is a party run by a bloke who owes taxpayers and creditors hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to the collapse of Queensland Nickel Refinery, yet can miraculously find $30 million and more for an advertising blitz to buy influence in parliament. Last time he was in in Parliament he only attended 19 of 202 senate "divisions".and of those 19 attendances 13 of them were related to the abolition of Labors Carbon Price and mining tax. This party has very few policies and this tilt at parliament is, I believe, solely designed to support a right wing government that will look after the fossil fuel industry and in this case, his interests in the Galilee basin.
I wonder what the wants in return for his preference deal with the Coalition?
Please don't fall for the "I'm gonna stick it up em " and vote for the UAP, remember, that same attitude got us an interesting character for a few years on Shepparton council and we are still paying the price.
Its a pity there aren't two LAST spots on the ballot paper.
Now we turn to the independents of which there are three.
Nigel Hicks seems to have his head screwed on the right way with the problems of the MDB plan. Certainly the ability to trade water outside the area is part of the problem, but can he influence the major parties policy ? Only if he gets elected and holds the balance of power. Number 4 for you Nigel.
This is the problem for all of the independents of course altho I will relegate Jeremy parker to 6th position on the ballot due to his call for a pause on renewable energy and return to trusted sources of power ( read Coal and Gas).
Andrew Bock comes across as very focussed on the water problem and keen to see action on climate change, so despite his stated intention to support the Coalition in a hung parliament I rank him worthy of number 2 on your ballot paper.
That brings me to the Coalitions representative, Damien Drum.The incumbent is an all round top bloke who has, according to the flyer deposited in my letterbox the other day, achieved a bit of funding to come to this electorate. I don't know how much funding is dependent on a coalition victory but I do know that for too long we have been disadvantaged by being a safe seat.
But lets look a little at the LNP's recent record, a complete mismanagement of the MDB plan resulting in alleged corruption, stolen water, massive untaxed profits to companies registered in the Cayman Islands, countless communities unable to even bathe in the Darling River water and millions of fish killed due to the low flows and putrid condition of the remaining water. Damien says we cannot prioritise fish stocks over the lives of our people. Well I reckon if the fish are healthy then the river and surrounding environment must be healthy and therefore so is the human population that relies on the river-you can't wash in cotton!
An editorial in the Shepparton News a couple of months ago questioned the National Party's commitment to its traditional constituency, instead, favouring big businesses, especially the Coal lobby. During the NSW election campaign the leader of the Nationals, Michael McCormack was interviewed on "The Panel". Waleed Aly asked him to name a single big policy area where the National Party have sided with the interests of farmers over the interests on miners and McCormack said "Um... well not straight off the top of my head".
To see the Coalitions links to the fossil fuel industry watch this (scary) video from journalist Michael West and the Greenpeace investigation unit.
The Coalition has plans to "reduce green tape" which is another word for environmental protection, this the day after the UN sounded a warning on mass extinction on the planet.
There are no jobs on a dead planet!
Environmental concerns aside it would be in the interest of electors in Nichols to at least reduce Mr Drums margin so much that we are taken notice of in Canberra.- Im putting Damien Drum at Number 5.
Nick Freeman is the Greens candidate. I agree with Nickee that we probably need a Royal Commission into the MDB Plan and that adequate water is available to keep the system healthy. It is obvious that water in the basin has been over allocated and the solution is complex so on this point she is pretty much on the same page as other candidates except for call for a scrapping of the limit on buybacks for the environment.
Not a lot of other info about what Nickee's beliefs are.
I have a bit of a blank when it comes to the Greens as I remember it was the Greens who voted with the Liberals (just after Tony Abbott deposed Malcolm Turnbull) to scuttle Labors Emissions Trading Scheme back in 2009. Had that got through the senate we would have seen far more progress on emissions reduction in the last 10 years-now the cost of abatement will be so much higher.
The Greens lack of credibility from this one act makes me relegate them to third.
That leaves Bill Lodwick ALP sitting in the top spot (surprised?) He supports a royal commission into the MBD fiasco and his party has a stronger (but still inadequate) Environmental policy platform than the Coalition.
The other issues that make me endorse Labor are
- Their intention to increase funding to the ABC and SBS (remember the Liberal Party's Federal Council voted to sell the ABC last June). No ABC would be devastating for regional (and Metropolitan) Australia.
- The promise to phase out the cruel live export industry.
- The promise to tighten land clearing laws across Australia
- the promise to set up an anti corruption commission.
Labor is not, by any stretch of the imagination perfect but if the ALP is elected federally on Saturday, this electorate will be in a much stronger position if we elect Bill Lodwick as the Labor member for Nicholls.
If the Coalition are elected we would probably be marginally better off with Damian Drum..
On Saturday you have a chance to make a difference, please don't waste it.