Politics: Hung Parliament and Rob Oakeshott

Rob Oakeshott has been the member for Lyne, a coastal electorate in northern New South Wales that borders Windsor’s electorate of New England, since 2008. He’s the youngest of the three conservative independents, at age 40, and the only one with a blog (I think I like politicians who blog). He started his political life at the NSW State level in 1992, as the National Party member for Port Macquarie, and left the party in 1998. This seems to have been partly because he was pro-republic and partly because he felt that property developers were having too much of an influence on the party. He describes himself as economically conservative and socially progressive, which is promising.

Reading his website, I rather like the sound of him.

Having entered the Federal arena in September 2008, I have also chosen to invest heavily in committee work – which is the often overlooked ‘engine room’ for effective Government. Because of this belief, I am involved in the Joint Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade including each of their four sub-committees (Foreign Affairs, Defence, Trade, and Human Rights), the Joint Committee on Cyber-Safety, the Joint Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, the Joint Committee on the Parliamentary Library (…don’t laugh – it’s an awesome library!!), and the House Committee on Education and Training.

I also participated in the House of Representatives Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government inquiry into the global financial crisis impacts on regional and rural Australia, and remain concerned about the amount of investment money which was lost in 2009 by statutory and semi-statutory bodies, councils, and non-government education and welfare providers, and potentially how little is being talked about the truth of just how much was lost and its future impacts on service delivery as a consequence.

Along with a Labor MP (Graham Perrett MP) and a Greens MP (Senator Sarah Hanson-Young) I have helped re-establish the Parliamentarians Amnesty International Group, and am currently a co-convenor. We have developed a good strategy to focus on world-wide MP’s and/or candidates for office who are being held against their will and to advocate and lobby for those specifically within the political process. Sadly, throughout the world today, there are many, and this A.I. group is therefore a busy one.

I am also currently serving as the Australian Parliamentary Representative on the all-male (10 blokes from different Parliaments within the region, Chaired by Dr Puka Timu, Deputy Prime Minister – PNG) Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Group of the United Nations Development Program that is working on strategies to minimise violence against women and girls within the region – from a male perspective. This has come about due to my involvement as a White Ribbon Ambassador within Australia, and due to my ongoing involvement with the Australian Parliamentary Group on Population and Development, and a belief that it is men who have to “man up” on matters in relation to domestic violence and more often than not it is men who have to address underlying cultural sensitivities associated with this throughout Australia and its region – where DV rates are some of the highest throughout the world.

So, Oakeshott likes libraries, has worked with the Greens and Labor, is involved in social justice stuff, and wins the approval of my inner feminist. A very good start. And he has an Arts degree and is concerned about tertiary education for rural Australians. Yes, I’m definitely inclined to approve of this one.

Oh, and praise the gods, he believes in climate change! In March, he called on the Rudd government to act on recommendations made last October in a seminal report to government about the impact of climate change on coastal communities. He is particularly concerned about coastal erosion and the effect of this on houses and properties in his electorate.

In terms of which way Oakeshott is likely to swing, it’s hard to say, He is strongly in favour of the Labor’s school computer program, which he says has made a real difference in his electorate, but he is also in favour of the Coalition’s policy on Veterans. I’d like to think his concerns about climate change would push him towards the Greens and Labor, but he is in classic National Party territory, and his electorate may not thank him for going against the Coalition. This, of course, applies to Windsor and Katter, too.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Surely someone this apparently sane can’t *want* to work with Tony Abbott?

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