Opportunity to influence will be taken responsibly
Posted November 03, 2017
If ever there was a time when being local, effective and independent mattered, surely it's now.
(This opinion piece first appeared in the Border Mail, 3 November 2017)
What has changed following the High Court’s decision? In terms of the government numbers, not much. The Coalition is still able to pass legislation in its own right. I am one of three cross benchers who will provide supply and confidence over the two sitting weeks before the situation is resolved. I do not have the sole power or a strong call from the electorate to push the nation to an early election.
What has changed is the opportunity to influence. Through two weeks of Parliamentary sitting before the New England by-election on 2 December, the cross bench has an even more important role to play in providing vision, leadership and clarity.
With each cross bench member committed to taking each piece of legislation on its merits, this is the ideal time to have an independent representative. Regional people’s voices are more influential than ever before. Now is the best time to speak up about the issues that matter. Every voice counts, and your voice is being listened to.
In keeping with the values on which I was elected, my intention is to use that opportunity responsibly.
In the 2013 and 2016 elections, I promised to work with the government of the day, to represent the voice of the community. To promote the values of respect for individuals and the electorate. To be “our best selves”. The community wanted a representative to act on their behalf and for the long term. The policy priorities were clear. The people of Indi want investment in rail, better telecommunications, more humane treatment of refugees, and a coherent regional development policy.
The way the electorate wants it done is also clear, with transparent, proper processes to get sustainable change rather than short term political deals. In this week’s Border Mail online poll, 75% of respondents said they wanted me to stick to this approach.
My call in the last two terms of Parliament has consistently been for good governance. Do things properly, and sustainably. There has been huge support for my push with the other independents for a Federal Independent Commission against Corruption, a Royal Commission into banking and better oversight of Parliamentary entitlements.
Good governance also means acknowledging the productive relationship with the government, a relationship which must continue to be productive after 2 December. Important work currently under way is at stake – marriage equality, continued momentum for a regional development policy, following through on improvements to the NBN rollout, and higher education legislation to be negotiated.
Nothing has changed in my way of working with the government. Every piece of legislation will be considered on its merits and in the best interest of Indi, as I have always done. My voting history can be viewed here.
This approach has delivered in $100 million for the North East rail line, funding for 38 mobile phone towers, momentum towards better higher education policy, funding for local government and the establishment of a national inquiry into regional development and decentralisation.
The call to the people of Indi is to keep your voice strong. Continue to lobby – write, email, call, and be solutions-focused.
Be inspired by the success of the Indi way. North East Victoria is thriving as more organisations, groups, communities and people seek their own solutions, make plans and take effective action to get results.
My promise to you is to continue to be the strongest possible voice to represent the electorate, and to stay true to the values and the agenda with which I have been entrusted.