Thursday, 28 April 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: vote for us or the hospital gets it

Meme found on Twitter

Former Liberal MP and current Liberal candidate for the seat of Indi, Sophie Mirabella, once more demonstrates why she is considered by many to be unfit for office…..

The Age, 23 April 2016:

Those who hold public office in our democracy are vested with the high responsibility of public trust. As elected leaders, they must faithfully determine not just the direction of our nation, our states and neighbourhoods but the funding and delivery of vital community services. Their duty to serve the public is non-negotiable, and it takes precedence over all other concerns. On that, they must be held to account.

The Age raises this in light of astounding comments by the former Liberal member for Indi, Sophie Mirabella, that offer rare and dispiriting insights into dishonourable, cynical tactics that political parties adopt in election campaigns. During a community forum on Thursday, Ms Mirabella declared that the people of Wangaratta had been denied funding for an extension to the local hospital because the independent candidate, Cathy McGowan, had trumped her in the September 2013 election.

Ms Mirabella was responding to a question from Brendan Schutt, a local businessman, who is the chairman of the board at Northeast Health Wangaratta, which operates the local hospital. She said: "I had a commitment for a $10-million allocation to the Wangaratta hospital that, if elected, I was going to announce the week after the election. You know that." (Mr Schutt nodded and appeared to say, "Yes".) Ms Mirabella then said: "That is $10 million that Wangaratta hasn't had because Cathy got elected."

This is stunningly arrogant and remarkably gormless. Ms Mirabella's comments might be infected with rivalry and spite, but they also raise serious questions about how funding allocations are determined by governments and exactly what behaviour Ms Mirabella considers acceptable. Let's break it down.

Firstly, we find it strange that any political candidate would wait until a week after voters had made their decision before announcing they had secured from their party a multimillion-dollar commitment for a much-needed expansion of a busy hospital. Why keep it secret?

Promises such as these are traditionally deployed before an election to garner voter support. It's called pork-barrelling, a term that has become so hackneyed that its use almost normalises the objectionable and craven bargains it depicts.

In this case, a sitting candidate, whose party has promised funds for good deeds in her constituency, loses her seat. By her account, her party – on winning office with a thumping majority – backed away from it. Why would that be?

We suggest it has nothing to do with Ms McGowan being a first-timer MP and an independent, as Ms Mirabella contends. Nor does it have anything to do with Ms Mirabella's networks, contacts and knowledge; the money, by her version, would have been forthcoming from the Coalition if she had won.

No, this smacks of filthy payback by the Coalition. The funding was denied to the people of Wangaratta because the triumphant Abbott government was spited that a longstanding Liberal MP was dumped…..

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