In reference to your excellent article Liberal hold on Bega under further threat from proactive, focused Greens – Weekly Beagle 17/01/2022, I respectfully submit the following contrary view for your most favourable consideration:
The pre-selected Liberal candidate for the seat of Bega, Dr Fiona Kotvojs, is not struggling at the polls or elsewhere. A small amount of effort in researching Dr Kotvojs will immediately reveal that this is a knowledgeable, capable person whose achievements on the family farm and assisting and representing primary producers and industry are flawless and to be applauded.
That the sitting member, Minister Andrew Constance, quit his seat at State level to offer his loyalty and skillset to the broader community on a Federal level shows, to my mind at least, that he is ambitious. He has shown himself to be a person of integrity, is loyal to the Liberal cause, and is willing in his humility to serve as Member for Gilmore for all .
The Morrison government will most likely prevail at the upcoming federal election, and that the government of Premier Dominic Perrottet is still with us for a while, (this statement alone should get the mob howling). I posit that both of these Liberal candidates have much more to offer than their respective opposing numbers.
As we all know, politics is subjective, and what is a weed to one is a flower to another. The voter, the ratepayer, the resident, and the citizen make the distinction and votes accordingly.
We should all welcome and applaud Peter Haggar of the Greens for throwing his hat in the ring for the seat of Bega. He is quite correct that these are tumultuous times, yet he deviates completely from Greens polemic by adding, “Now is not the time for wishful thinking, faith based or ideological decision making”. Are these words not the essence of the Greens?
I am most interested in hearing what Mr Haggar has to share with us regarding his position on native forest logging. His primary opponent, Dr Kotvojs, is well documented in her position of properly managed, sustainable native forestry, including private landholders in the mix.
I would ask him “What role did our native forests play in the Black Summer fires?”, “How does Mr Haggar intend to safeguard both the environment and the community over and above the post-fire reports and recommendations of the RFS and other state agencies? All of whom have somewhat far more knowledge and hands-on experience in fighting and preventing fires than Mr Haggar.
I’m concerned that Mr Haggar seemingly fails to differentiate between the state and federal level of government with regards to the delivery of health services. The pandemic is a federal level issue, whichever way you approach it, and local/regional health services are a state government matter.
It is easy to carp and quibble about the minutiae of how the Morrison government has handled the pandemic. However, the shining reality is that as the incumbent government, they implemented structures and solutions that have, by and large, ensured that Australians are among the highest vaccinated people in the world – no small feat!
On the local level, the state government has promised to build and sustainably staff a new Level Four hospital in the Eurobodalla. Minister Constance was instrumental in bringing all the relevant resources and forces to bear to enable this to happen. Dr Kotvojs recently confirmed to this very organ that the hospital itself is being built to Level Four standard, and that the staff are being trained to Level Four standard. How good is this?
There is no existential housing crisis on the South Coast “created by the special economic rationalisation of the major parties”. On the contrary, a quick phone around of all of the local real estate agents in the area will clearly show that house sales are in fact robust, all rentals are fully subscribed, and the only shortage is in long term rentals.
However, given that the area (Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla, Bega) is reliant on tourism and property investment, the market is creating the long-term rental shortage, not the major parties. Therefore, if Mr Haggar does have a viable suggestion as to how the state government could assist with the construction of public housing to relieve some of the long term rental stress, I would be quite interested in hearing his suggestion.
The current TAFE system already delivers on what Mr Haggar suggests. One of the biggest issues any system would have would be the voluntary takeup of its offerings. If the local youth are disinterested in being educated and obtaining qualifications, is Mr Haggar suggesting press-ganging them into the classrooms?
Furthermore, and this goes to the heart of the subject, where are the actual jobs for all of the TAFE qualified graduates?
I have always welcomed the Greens voice at any table. As a landowner, primary producer and businessman, I readily see the strengths and the shortcomings of environmental issues. I’m the first to quietly practice sustainable primary production, support good governance and accept my neighbours as equals.
With unfettered respect to Mr Haggar, I suggest that there is only one nation on our continent, and that is Australia. The rest are simply visitors.
I think that Dr Michael Holland and our recently installed Councillor David Grace give much-needed prestige to a party struggling to find itself meaningfully.
As always, Lei, I applaud you.