Thursday, 7 December 2017

NSW North Coast Nats blame Turnbull for their re-election fears but refuse to look at the state government blunders they support

Image courtesy of Clarrie Rivers

This was The Daily Telegraph on 5 December 2017:

NATIONALS backbenchers have thrown their support behind NSW leader John Barilaro’s comments that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should resign by Christmas, with one MP saying he was reflecting the views of “the whole country”.

Tensions between the Liberal and National parties reached boiling point yesterday on both a state and federal level as George Brandis labelled Mr Barilaro’s words “the dribblings of some obscure politician who nobody outside of NSW has ever heard of”.

The comments — which were made to Sydney’s 2GB radio last week — have also angered state Liberals, with one senior figure telling The Daily Telegraph Mr Barilaro was “losing the support” of his colleagues….

However, NSW Nationals backbenchers backed Mr Barilaro, with Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis claiming his state leader was echoing the “views of NSW and probably whole country”.
“We’ve seen it month after month in the polls,” he said.

Mr Gulaptis said that while he conceded the comments were “unhelpful”, Mr Barilaro was “entitled to make statements like that” and had his full support.

Coffs Harbour Nats MP Andrew Fraser said they “had a history of going with what the electorate was feeling” and that voters were “frustrated” with Mr Turnbull.

“Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t seem to be engaging with the electorate,” he said.

Oh, all the gods on all the holy mountain peaks give me strength!

Yes, the Turnbull Government is a train wreck careering towards the precipice. Yes, the failures of Truffles & Co and their arrogant sense of entitlement will probably colour views in a number of electorates ahead of the next NSW election on 23 March 2019.

However, the NSW Nationals and especially the North Coast Nationals have also not been adverse to supporting punitive policy measures created by the Abbott and Turnbull governments which would impact on local people.

While they have almost invariably initially thrown their weight behind every hair-brained state government idea floated in far-off Sydney which would make life difficult for local communities, local government or damage the Northern Rivers environment.

From withdrawing state agencies or severely reducing their staff and slashing their budgets, through to the push to unsuccessfully impose super-sized regional councils the size of small European principalities, the failed attempt to rob coastal rivers of their water, the unsuccessful push to impose an industrialised landscape filled with gas fields on rural landowners or the current ploy to destroy a biodiverse, environmentally sensitive waterway and surrounding estuary land through a proposal like the Port of Yamba debacle – all of which were initially supported by some or all North Coast National Party MPs.

Communities on the NSW North Coast have always had to talk long, hard and very publicly before their erstwhile elected National Party representatives give them a decent hearing.

So these Nationals need to understand that calls to oust Malcolm Bligh Turnbull will not erase the memory of what their own votes in the NSW Parliament are doing to their electorates and the wider North Coast.

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