I don’t have time to read all of this!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheNationalsVic/
Themes: Better infrastructure and more money for regional Australia. Very, very tough on crime. Strangely obsessed with fishing.
With friends like these…
The Group Voting Ticket
Basically, see my comments on the Liberal Party. Because the Nationals are the other half of the Coalition (something many people, including the Liberal Party, often forget), they share a group voting ticket. So we have the same array of conservative religious parties (hello, DLP!) and pro-gun parties (let’s hear it for the LDP, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, and the Australian Country Party!) at the top of the ticket, with all those lefty environmentalist types placed firmly at the bottom of the ticket.
I’m somewhat less irate at this ticket coming from the Nationals, however, mostly because guns actually make somewhat more sense in rural areas (i.e., there are actually some reasonable uses for them) and this is something their electorate is likely to want, whereas I suspect most urban Liberal voters like gun control nearly as much as I do. So where it feels like sleight of hand coming from the Liberal Party, it feels appropriate coming from the Nationals. I mean, I wouldn’t vote above the line for them, either, but at least it is consistent with their brand and stated beliefs.
(I also have a bit more tolerance for the Nationals’ preferences because they are the junior party in the Coalition, and probably got less say on the preferencing anyway.)
The Body Politic
Policies, Snark, Terrible Theme Songs and Other Observations
The National Party is another party I won’t be spending a lot of time on, because it’s pretty easy to find out about them from the general news media. I’ll spend a little time on their slogan, and then see if anything unexpected jumps out at me from their policies.
Their Victorian election slogan is ‘A better deal for regional Victorians’. This is pretty straight down the line and plays into a common (and, I suspect, well-founded) feeling among regional Australians that most governments govern for the cities, and neglect regional areas. The National Party, however, will fix all this.
After four years of city-centric Labor Government, The Nationals will deliver a decentralisation agenda that bring Regional Victoria the services, infrastructure, investment and opportunity we deserve.
This is an argument that would carry a lot more weight if the Federal government were also Labor. But we’ve actually had a Coalition federal government for several years now, and they have done very little for regional Australia, which doesn’t really sell the idea that they would be willing or able to do more if they were in government in Victoria.
The Nationals are in a bit of a bind, politically speaking. They don’t get enough seats to form government on their own, or even comprise a particularly large voting bloc, so their odds of being able to effect change if they go it alone are slim. If they are in Coalition with the Liberals, they at least have some possibility of getting the Government to act on their issues, but even there, they are very much the junior partner, and they need the Liberals more than the Liberals need them. And they haven’t shown a lot of ability or willingness to advocate for their base. (NBN, anyone?)
This is, of course, why we have been getting so many new small parties over the past few years who are trying to fill that gap.
The Nationals’ policies reflect what our communities tell us are the most important issues – safe roads; good schools; health and hospital services where and when we need them; jobs and business opportunities in rural and regional centres; a fair go for farmers; safe communities, and more.
Let’s do a quick zip around and see what this means.
Water, Agriculture and Environment
There are few surprises here. Farming is prioritised over environmental policy, and they want to scrap the renewable energy target. They want to make sure farmers get their fair share of water, and they want a special police task force to deal with rural crime, including livestock theft. Slightly unexpected policies include:
- A Carbon Innovation Institute in the Latrobe Valley, which is confusing and I can’t tell if it’s talking about more mining or not.
- Onshore gas exploration is fine, but not coal seam gas, and profits should be shared with the farmers who own the land
- Return of firestick burning. ‘a project that will study and use traditional fire management practices to restore the health of bushland and reduce fire risk for Victorian communities. Indigenous fire management, sometimes referred to as ‘cultural burning’, is understood to promote healthy landscapes and boost biodiversity with ‘cool’ low-intensity burns.‘
Also, about half their links to the full policies don’t work, which is why I haven’t provided them.
In addition to the Regional Crime Squad, they want tougher penalties for basically everything, tougher bail laws, and mandatory minimums for family violence offenders, child sex offenders and home invaders. They have a lot of family-violence-specific laws, and better support for victims of crime. They also want to look after firemen and CFA volunteers
This is an incredibly long page, and also very poorly proof-read, with broken links and titles which have been copied and pasted and left unchanged. I think some of their policies are there multiple times, but it’s hard to tell, because they are all about being tougher on everything. And they are all in an apparently random order, with no sort of grouping, so it’s very hard to tell.
I probably shouldn’t judge someone’s ability to govern based on their ability to create a sensible website, but I’m judging them anyway.
Rail and Roads
Rural Victoria should have more of both. There are no surprises here. But the Nationals do want a better deal for boaties and fishers, and a new Great Southern Ocean Bike Trail running from Melbourne to Adelaide, to promote tourism. I have to say, I would ride that bike trail.
Cost of Living
Mostly cutting power bills by getting rid of renewable energy targets, but also releasing more housing lots to make housing more affordable in rural areas, and free flu vaccines for kids. And cutting payroll tax, as is traditional. And more support for fishing.
Better schools for rural students, and none of this Safe Schools malarkey. Standardised curriculum, more sports, and no mobile phones in classrooms. Free schoolbooks for secondary students, and a network to be founded to connect students moving to the cities for tertiary education with students who have been there and done that.
Actually, with the exception of the Safe Schools stuff, this is a pretty good set of programs.
Upgrading rural hospitals, free parking at hospitals, increased funding for rare disease, palliative care, allergies, and more. Better respite care, more support for home care for people with chronic illnesses.
And they want to bring back ‘Life. Be in it!’ to encourage health and fitness.
Oh my – and they want to make the contraceptive pill over-the-counter after consultation with a pharmacist! How unexpectedly modern and feminist of them! Though they will still need to get their first script from a GP, and GP scripts will cost less than over the counter ones. Still. That’s an interesting choice to make for a party that puts the DLP second on their ballot so often…
For too long Melbourne has been the focus of successive Victorian governments but that must change if we are to deliver Regional Victoria its fair share of services, infrastructure, investment and opportunity.
Lots of the usual stuff here, like decreasing payroll tax in regional areas, and moving various services to regional Victoria. They want a Minister for Decentralisation, regional sittings of Parliament, more infrastructure, better mobile phone coverage, and more funding for Regional RSLs and the CWA. And also better fishing across Victoria. The Nationals are weirdly obsessed with fishing.
Here’s my favourite, though.
A Liberal Nationals Government will contribute $155,000 to 32nd Annual Australian Sikh Games.
The funding package will enable the Sikh community in Victoria to hold the Games, which will be a great way for the Indian community from all over Australia to celebrate their culture while showcasing their skills on the sporting field.
Which is lovely, but strangely specific, particularly for a section on decentralisation.
Also… the games are already being held in Melbourne, or at least, in Cranbourne, apparently, so I’m not entirely sure what this changes, especially for Regional Victoria.
Look, there’s nothing here to really hate, apart from the Safe Schools rubbish, but there’s nothing truly earth-shattering, either. And you probably already knew where you were putting the Nationals on your ballot anyway.
But at least you know now that Australia has an annual Australian Sikh Games. I think we are all richer for this knowledge. Maybe I should put that in my calendar for next April?