OPEN LETTER TO SHEPPARTON CANDIDATES
Congratulations to each of you for nominating. Sadly only one may win, so best of luck to each of you. I attended the ‘Meet the Candidates’ at Eastbank, but time was limited and I was unable to ask my question during the open forum. As a voter of many years and elections, it is understood and accepted that each ‘party’ represents a certain sector within our community. A hard-working independent will try their best to sample everyone – these are given facts.
I am a 50+ year old, Caucasian, Australian born male. My children have grown up, so schools aren’t big on my radar. I don’t own a house, so I can’t access solar power, or negative gear it. I rent my accommodation, which I share, and my ‘part’ of the rent consumes 72 percent of my fortnightly income, so I can hardly even contribute to the local economy, except towards my landlord’s 5 houses. Regrettably, after 30 years of working shift work for Government departments, I am unemployed, and have been for so long, that I now have the degrading title of being “a long-term unemployed person” by every politician (Federal or State). I have battled depression, financial hardship (using community outlets for food on occasion). I make use of payment plans for my utilities, so therefore, I never truly have a zero balance on them, and as a result, I cannot transfer to the cheaper energy providers without further compromising my financial position. As stated earlier, I can’t contribute much to the economy, often juggling between utilities, medications, but I can’t even afford to use our improved train/transport system. I am not a land-holder, I have no assets, I don’t have an ABN, I can’t afford health insurance, I can’t afford household insurance, and I am hardly a great-catch for a successful woman. Everyday I am unemployed, I become more unemployable. I don’t even qualify for the State Government’s new ‘free’ TAFE courses.
Each candidate spoke towards climate, solar, water, CFA & schools. Each spoke well, a couple were very candid, some didn’t impress towards some topics – that’s politics.
So, I guess, my questions are these…Who is capable, willing to advocate for me, and people in similar positions? Who should I vote for? Who, if elected, would offer me a job in their electoral office?
TAXI TRUTH UNTOLD
I am writing in response to Debra Barnes’ letter to the editor in The Adviser last week (Confidence in legal system eroded). Unfortunately, the legal system isn’t solely to blame for this tragedy. It’s the government who are vicariously to blame.
The taxi industry being deregulated has caused a ‘jungle’ environment whereby it is every man for himself. Not only do they have to put up with fair-evaders, drunks or people under the influence of illicit substances plus those who verbally and physically (abuse) the driver in an attempt to stand over the driver – the list grows. Society is creating animals on two legs (a beast of a different nature). But for Mr Jatinder Panesar it is more so the case that taxi drivers work very, very long hours leaving them sleep deprived and exhausted which can be a danger in itself if truth be told.
Unfortunately, because the industry is deregulated and now Uber is coming in the ability to earn a living becomes a marketplace for savages. This doesn’t take away the deaths of respected people in our community at any age. But if you want someone to truly blame, blame the politicians who can’t be trusted in creating safer work environments. Free-market neoliberalist ideology demonstrating failure in the business arena again.
WHAT CAN BE ACHIEVED WITH AN INDEPENDENT VOICE
There is an extraordinary momentum underway across the Shepparton District and a great sense of growth and optimism is apparent.
We are now seeing more government investment than ever before. Over $660M is now being spent on major health, education, rail and road projects. On the back of this investment confidence has lifted and we are experiencing investment right across the district. New and innovative agricultural, transport and support industries are growing.
The Shepparton District is now being held up as a shining example of what can be achieved with an independent voice in parliament.
Regional communities across Victoria that have been neglected for so long are recognising that to thrive they must be prepared to make a change from their traditional political values.
Shepparton District realised this four years ago at the last election and while we continue to face some challenges, particularly as a result of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the current extended dry, we are now starting to reap the rewards.
We are developing the fundamental building blocks needed for our community to thrive economically, socially and culturally. Funding is committed and works are underway. Yet there is still much to be done to truly establish ourselves as a community where more people will want to come to live, work and grow their families.
Once again it is now up to us to decide. As we head into Saturday’s state election, I am asking you to re-elect me as your independent voice so I can continue to stand up for the needs of our community and continue to attract the ongoing investment needed truly realise our sustainable future.
Independent Member for Shepparton District