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Eden-Monaro By-Election a chance to reject Coalition Government

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Cartoon by Mark David/@mdavidcartoons.

The political class acts as if the Government should be taken seriously, but it's grossly incompetent, corrupt, deluded. That the Opposition can’t beat them is a calamitous failure.

Voters in the coming Eden-Monaro By-Election have the choice of people who could actually represent, and govern.

There are some things the Federal Government could be doing in response to the rapid-fire series of disasters still unfolding in Australia.

The Government could establish long-term funding to ensure we are prepared for future fire and pandemic emergencies, instead of continuing in "panic and neglect" mode. It could properly fund the public universities, as we used to do, and remedy their dependence on the fees of wealthy foreigners, particularly those from Asia.

The Government could ask First Australians how they would like to proceed with treaty negotiations, how they would like to manage the challenges of poverty, drugs and incarceration, and how to constructively police their communities.

It could promote the fire-resilience of our landscape. This could involve promoting a rapid adoption of cultural burning, particularly in forests, which also promotes healthy ecosystems. It could promote regenerative farming practices that re-hydrate the landscape, restore health to ecosystems and increase drought- and fire-resilience.

These actions could be complemented by insisting the states stop clearing bushland and logging native forests (at a loss), stop allowing the theft of river water, stop approving coal mines and any further fossil fuel extraction and, of course, stop all subsidies of fossil fuels.

The Government could upgrade the national electricity grid, scrap Snowy 2.0 and replace it with a string of far more viable medium-scale pumped hydro storages. It could promote a hydrogen economy instead of idiotic schemes for gas pipelines and the nuclear and carbon-capture zombies.

The Government could recognise that the unemployed are not there because of indolence but actually want to work and continue paying a living allowance. It could then change its policies to support full employment, as we used to do, when unemployment averaged 1.3 per cent in the postwar years.

The Government could, of course, get serious about rorts and corruption throughout our society, reduce inequality and release a surge of constructive energy in the population. 

The Government will not do any of these things because the Coalition is fatally corrupt. 

It has been captured by miners, arms dealers, banks and others, according to independent journalist Michael West. Ministers, members and staffers directly come from these industries, and they will use their powers to rort the public purse.

Scott Morrison’s unexpected win in the last election was due to a campaign of gross deceit, with the media complicit in comprehensively failing to point out its long record of failures and scandals.

Labor is only marginally less odious. It is also corrupt. It swallowed the neoliberal snake oil a generation or two ago and ever since has dissipated itself being "Liberal-lite". It presented a dog’s breakfast of contradictory policies at the last election and the people weren't inspired.

The old parties have dissipated most of their energies over the past decade or so fighting themselves and each other. Governing is routinely torqued to reward mates and wedge opponents. 

We are fortunate in Australia that we, the people, still have one avenue through which to retrieve our Parliament, the heart of our democracy.

We can stop voting for the old parties.

We can vote for people who plausibly can actually represent and, in alliance with each other, govern, or require the Government to govern.

There is in Eden-Monaro already a small zoo of candidates to choose from. Some of those would divide us rather than bringing us together. We Australians have shown ourselves through these seasons of trials that we can pull together and accomplish amazing things, helped by good leadership.

There are candidates who would build on that.

New Liberals candidate Karen Porter, the Greens’ Cathy Griff and Science Party’s James Jansson have constructive policies. Porter may be the most promising wild card, a small businesswoman with a record of accomplishment, plus good values and policies.

Each of these candidates rates action on the climate emergency as a high priority.

If you don’t live in the electorate, then you can still help these good candidates by spreading the word and with donations. They are up against a system heavily skewed to favour the old parties.

Some maintain the belief that a vote for a minor or an independent is a waste. But we've got a system of preferential voting: vote for who you would really like, preference your usual tribe if you wish.

Look at the good independents already in the Parliament — it can be done. Even short of winning, a strong vote for alternatives gives the old parties a clear message and warning.

The Eden-Monaro electorate has been triply traumatised by drought, at least six huge fires and the virus lockdown. No one knows how people will vote, so nothing should be taken for granted.

Dr Geoff Davies is a commentator, scientist, and author of Economy, Society, Nature and The Little Green Economics Book. He blogs at BetterNature Books. You can follow Dr Davies on Twitter @BetterNatureOz.

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