People in NSW will be heading out to vote on the 23rd of March in the State election, about two months before the scheduled Federal election. Just like their Federal counterparts, the NSW Liberal and National government has been a corrupt disaster from the start, with Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian having spiralled the state – and Sydney as Australia’s most ‘international city’ – downwards.
Privatisation and corruption are the hallmarks of a Liberal or National government, and while the Coalition on the Federal level has been plagued by numerous scandals in the last couple of months – is anyone going to be called out on that? No, business as usual? Ok – the NSW government has been equally as dodgy. It says it all when the previous Premier, Mike Baird, resigns solemnly over private family issues requiring his attention but then swiftly swoops into a high position with NAB – one of the Big 4 banks that recently got slammed in a Royal Commission for, surprise, corrupt and illegal/unethical behaviour.
Mike Baird was also responsible for the lockout laws and helping destroy Sydney’s night life, except for a precinct where casino billionaire James Packer had major investments, which no doubt boosted the number of people going to his establishments. That and other ties to Packer gave Baird the nickname ‘Casino Mike’. His successor, Berejiklian, has followed in his footsteps of destroying culture with the crackdown on festivals for drugs (because I’m sure no rich people do cocaine at casinos), and got caught up in the whole Opera house being used as a billboard affair, something that again aided the gambling industry, and should not have occurred at all anyway.
The usual pushes towards privatising healthcare, education, the prison system, etc. are all on display, evident in the damning funding cuts and cushy relationships with private companies. There is also a lot of hype about the demolition and reconstruction of that stadium, which is so far planned at $2 billion but, know the Liberals, will probably explode beyond that. No doubt either that if this goes ahead and the stadium is rebuilt, the pretext of safety and structural integrity will be blatantly thrown aside. In all likelihood, it will be rebuilt to low standards and required continuous maintenance that will also come out of the taxpayer’s wallet. I’m sure the crumbling public school infrastructure in the state could use that $2 billion for much more worthwhile projects.
On the Nationals side, well, is there anything else to say other than mentioning the full blown corruption and intentional water mismanagement involving the Murray-Darling and cotton farming? Yes, the party that purports a deluded image of being the voice for rural Australia and farmers is also the one, in the middle of a nation-wide drought, has the audacity to allow criminal amounts of water to be allocated (or in some cases probably stolen) to industries that practically should not exist in Australia, being such a dry continent. Nationals leader John Barilaro surely wouldn’t lie to the people about his motives, right?
A friend of mine who lives in Coffs Harbour asked me some questions about the election, because she had no idea how the voting system worked, what the parties were, and who was running. And I don’t blame her; even I, as informed as I try to be, do not know the names of all my local politicians. I know my Federal Coalition MP, State Labor MP, and I think the name of the ALP candidate for the Federal election. While I was mildly surprised she didn’t know the parties, again I can’t criticise that because, other than Labor, the Nationals, the Liberals, and the Greens, few other parties receive much mention, and Independents are rare and generally unknown. This stuff really needs to be taught in schools: how the voting system works and how to vote (the process, not literally explaining who to vote for), a general overview of what the parties are, and what your vote actually means and what it does.
A bit of searching though, and I sent her a list of candidates for her State electorate as well as explaining how preferential voting works. Coffs Harbour has been a Nationals seat for quite some time now, and the current member is resigning. The new candidate, Gurmesh Singh, is a board member of Oz-Group, a co-op owned by farmers of various berries in the region. This co-op also received over three million dollars (across three grants) from the Federal government in 2018, at the end of which Singh was selected as the new Nationals candidate. While the grants themselves may not be particularly concerning on their own, they become rather suspicious when one of its top people ends up running for a safe Nationals seat in a State election. A conflict of interest and questions about the relationship between the government and Oz-Group are potential implications.
If there are indeed strings being pulled in the background between the Coalition and close business ties, it is a quick example of why one needs to be wary of the Liberal and Nationals members. Whether it is State or Federal, they cannot be trusted with the economy, with public services, or with the environment. If it isn’t obvious, yes, I have a bias against the Coalition parties, but let me assuage that concern by saying when a Labor government is in power – like they are in QLD where I live – you can be sure I’ll trash talk them as well. But at least it will be on a lesser scale – it matters which major party is in power, enough to make sure you pay very close attention to the results of the upcoming elections in March and May.
Berejiklian and Barilaro are not working for the people – they are working against them. Show them what you think when you vote.
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