We have a huge problem, and the problem is this. We are governed from the top down, rather than from the grassroots up.
I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again.
The dominance of two party politics means that our members of Parliament represent their party to the electorate, rather than represent their electorate to the Parliament.
When viewed in this light, the recent defence of Liberal government spending in the Bass electorate by our own MP, Ken Smith, begins to look like standard party politician behaviour, which is basically acting as a salesman; hawking their party’s product to the consumer, often largely by slinging off at the negatives of their opponent’s product or position, rather than by promoting the positives of their own.
For a Liberal, it is usually the Labor Party that has got everything wrong.
But in this case the opponent is a Bass Coast Shire Councillor, Claire Le Serve, running for State Parliament as an independent. So the Bass Coast Shire Council comes in for a bit of a kicking, just for a change.
So what does this top heavy political process mean in terms of representation?
It means that in the rare instance when a local issue arises which the party-based MP has no choice but to take to head office, then the outcome will be decided purely in terms of whether it can affect the next election.
And if it is deemed that it can, then the decision will be based upon whether the party can afford to jettison the affected seat/s in the short term, to win it/them back later by either throwing around allocations of public money if the party is in power, or through promising to do the same if it is in opposition.
The wishes, needs and general welfare of the communities which make up the electorate are thereby reduced to a statistical analysis in purely electoral terms.
If the government of the day needs to hold/win your seat, then you’re probably going to be okay as regards funding allocations. If it doesn’t, then who the heck did you think you were, imagining that public welfare somehow stood apart from electoral votes?
And it is the electoral picture over all that decides priorities.
In this case, Ken’s party sees a state-of-the-art road tunnel linking the east and west of Melbourne as its main priority. Meanwhile, our local roads are an accident waiting to happen for four-wheeled motorists, and potentially far worse for those on two wheels, who we’ve seen more than a few of over the last week.
It must have been a wake-up call to the international biking community to find that the wealthy and progressive state of Victoria was offering potentially life-threatening roads as its best advertisement.
But, of course, Ken didn’t mention roads when it came to justifying his party’s spending priorities.
Can you believe, that after offering his regrets that funding for the Wonthaggi Hospital, Wonthaggi educational precinct and the Phillip Island Penguin Parade has unfortunately not eventuated as yet, he then “predicted” that this funding may be promised to us in imminent election announcements?
Well thank you for that, Ken, but I won’t be hanging my hat on a politician’s prediction of politician’s promise from a party that has cost me hundreds of dollars in front-end repairs to my car over the course of its four-year term.
I am actually wondering if Ken is also predicting that there will be an announcement regarding funding for the three hubcaps I have lost in the same period, each one the result of a Liberal party pothole. And if any Labourites are thinking of using that line, then in many cases it was your desal trucks which broke the back of the roads in the first place. Brilliant governance all round, guys.
So the cause of the problem is two party politics, and the answer will only be found once it is gone. And the only way to achieve that is with independent, community-based MPs. So I’m sorry, Ken, but if the prediction of a promise from Spring Street is the best you’ve got for me, then Claire Le Serve just got herself a vote.
Because she’s coming from the grassroots area, and you’re not. So, does the phrase “it’s time” mean anything to you, because it means a hell of a lot to me right now.
Roger Thorrowgood, Inverloch.