Aslan Shand, guest editorial
Despite pressures to the contrary, it is your role to represent your constituents.
And it is not just about seeking funding on their behalf and lobbying for other local advantages. You need to represent their views on issues that affect the whole nation, such as health, education, and defence, and on volatile issues such as fracking, a ‘favourite’ in the Northern Rivers.
So when your constituents want a clear answer on your position on issues, from fracking to the Adani coal mine, they are not just asking about their own backyard. They are seeking reassurance that you will represent them accurately at the highest level of government.
The problem for Richmond MP Justine Elliot (Labor) in refusing to clearly state how she will represent her constituents on fracking and the Adani mine (and others) is that she is only allowing voters half the information they need to make a decision.
I want more
Yes, the Labor Party’s policy on climate change is better than the Liberal/National coalition’s, but I want more. I want an assurance from the candidates seeking my vote that they are not only going to support their party’s climate-change policies but that within their party they are going to put forward better policies.
That they are going to push for more change and stronger action. That when it comes to the environment they are going to be the activists within their parties to create the change that I want to see. Not sit on the backbench enjoying the pay, toeing the line, and waiting for a pension.
When I was at primary school we had to vote for the school captain and I remember asking my dad, ‘How do I decide whom to vote for?’ His advice is sound for all levels of politics.
He told me that I shouldn’t vote for someone because they were the most popular person, or because they were my friend.
He said, ‘It doesn’t matter if you like or don’t like the person you choose to vote for’.
‘The most important part of the decision is who will be the best person to lead the school.’
So what I want from the candidates running in this election is a clear stance (not just their ‘personal opinion’) on issues that are important to me as a voter, such as fracking.
And I want them to tell me how they are going to drive the issues that are important to me, not only by supporting their party’s proposed policy but also by driving change within their party to make it better, fairer, and more equitable for all Australians.
To win that essential swinging voter, MP Justine Elliot needs to tell her constituents what she represents at both a local and national levels. This does not mean she has to tell them she will cross the floor on certain issues (even if I’d like her to) but she needs to persuade voters that she will continue to fight for what is important.