We’re about to vote in a by-election. Our sitting local member resigned (thankfully) over a rather sordid issue. For many years, our electorate was a very safe seat for one party. During the last state electoral cycle, it became much more marginal – a two percent margin after a 9.5% swing against the sitting member.
And here we are, back at the polls again on the 22nd of May. It’s been an interesting few months. Australia’s political scene, both at the state and federal levels, have been rather volatile, due to a spate of sex and abuse scandals.
But after many years of our electorate pouring money into the state coffers, with very little of it returning to the electorate in the form of infrastructure, roads, education and health support or even grants from the ‘royalties for regions’ fund, pretty well every party has now promised us the earth.
There have been sudden grants/funding from the existing state government. Provided with the proviso that they have nothing to do with the upcoming election of course. Which doesn’t strike any of us as suddenly remarkably coincidental in their arrival just before a by-election at all.
And pretty well every major state political leader has been seen in town. A couple of weeks ago one was in my local favourite cafe. Last week, the premier and deputy premier were in town. Today, another party leader was at the shopping centre (complete with photographer) chatting to various people, while waving at their candidate.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many politicians in our small town in the entire nineteen years we’ve lived here – let alone all within so few weeks.
Of course, when you have the opportunity to become a minority government, hold the balance of power, or end up in an excellent bargaining position, I suppose you want to maximise the chances.
But it really makes me rather cynical. They’re all promising the same things – the things all of the previous incumbents have promised for at least the last nineteen years. Basically, all the things the electorate has been promised over years and years, but never received.
I hope several things.
Firstly, that the election is a squeaker. I hope that if our new incumbent knows they only made it in by the skin of their teeth, they’ll work hard for the electorate in order to gain re-election at the next state election in 2023.
Secondly, that each and every state government of the future will never take our electorate for granted, ever again.
Thirdly, that whoever we elect is dedicated to the electorate, and is actually a resident. We have one candidate who appears to live elsewhere, which seems completely ridiculous to me – how can you possibly represent an electorate if you don’t live in it – particularly a rural one?
Anyway, I’ve already voted in the pre-poll period, so my part in this election is done. But I’m still feeling just a tad cynical.