When New South Wales’ founding fathers named our parliament they chose to use the words ‘Legislative Assembly’ for the NSW Lower House as opposed to ‘House of Representatives’ as they later did for the federal parliament.
Shame really, as the title ‘Representatives’ does serve as a constant reminder of the true role of a politician.
It appears that our state members forgot the importance of being a representative for their constituents. They also seemed to forget how their job security depended on their effectiveness in pursuing the interests of their electorate.
Coal seam gas (CSG) is not the only issue in our area but it consistently rated as the most important by voters.
In an area where 87 per cent of the people voted against CSG in numerous polls and a very comprehensive plebiscite it seems rather preposterous that anyone let alone astute politicians could envisage surviving an election unscathed on a pro-CSG stance.
The net result of course was that a serious drubbing was delivered to both Lismore and Ballina National Party representatives.
How was it that neither of these members saw it coming or at least if they did they failed to convince their coalition members in Macquarie Street that this was serious?
How was it that the Nationals could say that they were the ones fixing the CSG problem when their election promise was to ban CSG in the suburbs of Byron and Ballina but allow it in Clunes and Bexhill and Federal and in our water catchment areas?
And at the same time Labor were trying to convince us that they hated CSG as much as we all did. They outlined their proposal to inflict it on farmers a few hundred kilometres south of us but we were to be spared in the northern rivers. Did they think we would buy such a cynical political promise?
Thomas George in Lismore just survived and his new mantra is that if you don’t have a voice in government you don’t achieve for the community. It will be interesting to see just how he plans to use that voice as it has been quite muted over the last four years. Adam Guise of the Greens waits in the wings building his network and his team as a strong community based representative.
In Ballina things are even more interesting. Tamara Smith won a convincing victory. She now has the challenging job of proving that despite not being a member of the governing party she can make gains for the people of Ballina. Those who know Tamara and her values, enthusiasm and commitment are confident she can.
So we are in for a fascinating four years.
Are we to witness a demonstration of my personal belief that in a regional electorate such as ours it is all about the quality of our representative?
The one that shows the best values, the most energy and the highest commitment to community representation is that one that will win our trust and respect regardless of whether they are a member of the party currently forming government.
Politics in Ballina and Lismore has suddenly got interesting and we all should be the winners.
Tony Gilding, Knockrow