IF YOU are sick and tired of seeing dud candidates, lawyers and career politicians elected to State and Federal Parliament, you’ll have the chance to change things this year if you are a voter in the Victorian electorate of Bass.
You might even consider throwing your hat into the ring as a candidate!
The opportunity to elect a new Member of Parliament locally arose at the weekend with the announcement by Ken Smith MP that he would not be contesting the next election on November 29, 2014.
At 69 years of age, with more than 25 years of service in State Parliament behind him, including a tumultuous three years as Speaker, it’s a good time for Mr Smith to be going.
If, as indicated, he also steps down as Speaker when Parliament resumes on February 4, it will help clear the fetid air that’s been hanging around Spring Street for months as a result of several unseemly clashes between Mr Smith, the Member for Frankston and the ALP.
Hopefully it allows the State Government to get on with the business of governing our challenged State, albeit with its slim majority of one, because goodness knows we could do with a period of stability.
What we do not want to see in Bass, however, is the Liberal Party abusing its 12 per cent margin in the seat to parachute in some party hack, Sophie Mirabella style, and for this person to use the people of Bass as little more than a doormat for establishing a personal career.
That’s why our MPs make so many mistakes; they aren’t properly rooted in their local communities.
The Libs are odds-on to win the seat if they don’t do something stupid at pre-selection time but the community should stand ready to ‘take them on’ if they come up with some wet-behind-the-ears dud who is incapable of connecting with the local community.
There are two types of candidate who would be acceptable – one would be a competent local person who has the runs on the board when it comes to working with the community. The other would be someone with leadership potential from outside who is prepared to relocate here and commit fully to the growth and sustainable development of this area.
Because what we desperately need down here is someone who can put this place on the map for all the right reasons; someone who recognises the area’s potential and advocates successfully on our behalf.
We’ve been neglected for too long.
Our needs include the revamping of the Wonthaggi hospital as a proper sub-regional centre, the establishment of an education precinct at Wonthaggi, integrated health services on Phillip Island, for the State Government to take our concerns about the impact of the new Port of Hastings on Westernport seriously, better public transport and roads… among other things.
We appreciate that the State Government needs people with business acumen who understand the economy and the State’s finances and other MPs with vision for health and education services and the capacity to second-guess the excesses of the State’s bureaucracy.
But if the Liberal Party wants to transplant one of these sorts of people into Bass, they better make sure the community is on board with the idea and the candidate knows that he or she has to be a good local member first and foremost.