The Nationals leader Peter Walsh has released his wish list for 2021; and there is a strong focus on getting regional Victoria a better deal.
Mr Walsh said the pandemic has been a glaring example of how little the capital city-based powerbrokers truly don’t get regional life in general and cross border communities in particular.
“The past year has delivered utter chaos and financial calamity to border communities and the latest decision by the Andrews government, to close the borders with NSW, is a classic case of trying to force a one-size-fits-all policy in areas where it has no hope of working,” he said.
“So I have produced my top five wishes for the new year and hope the government has the common sense to read them.”
- Like all Australians I hope for a national resolution to the pandemic – like major global illnesses from the plague to Spanish influenza to AIDS, it would appear it is something we will need to live with. We cannot keep throwing the economy under a bus and hammering our collective mental health with isolation, financial ruin and ongoing uncertainty of where, when and how we will be able to lead our lives the next day, week, month or year.
- If ever Federal and State politicians needed a better example of what makes border communities tick, COVID-19 has been the one. Citycentric decisions from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne have hamstrung communities for no good reason other than this naïve belief one-size-fits-all policy really works. It doesn’t. With that in mind I would be pushing even harder for a new national approach to all border communities, not just the ones in my electorate or state.
- A Royal Commission in Victoria is high on my list. So many questions have been ducked, dodged, deflected and disallowed and, at the very least, the families of the hundreds who died as a result of bungling by the Andrews government deserve an explanation – and an apology when someone finally admits it was their decision. Claims by ousted Minister Jenny Mikakos need to be publicly aired and faces behind changing testimony be held accountable. A disaster of this proportion cannot be excused by professional amnesia.
- The number one priority for Canberra is a solution for the Chinese boycott. In the short term it must be resolved for our farmers; in particular. It has also provided a spectacular lesson about the rush to sell off the farm as fast as we have been doing it for the past decades. Australia, like every other country, needs to have a weather eye on food security, and not be dependent on foreign owners to access our own production. It is also a lesson with regard to our non-existent manufacturing industry – the success of Foodmach in Echuca is a prime example of what can be achieved by Australian owned and Australian made.
- Finally, The Nationals have been pushing for years for Victoria to become a state of cities, not a city state. We must decentralise as Melbourne is more than big enough and is draining money and resources needed by the whole state. We back that decentralisation with a fast rail service connecting those cities and world class IT speeds; enabling Victorians to live and work anywhere in the state – but particularly in regional Victoria.
Footnote: It didn’t make my top five; but didn’t miss by much. I really want to see Geelong win the AFL flag in a season where home and away means exactly that, not away and away in a hub somewhere with a game that barely resembles the sport we have all grown up loving (actually, if push comes to shove I don’t care when or where it is played so long as we win it).