The shockwaves of voter discontent look like they could be heading Wagga’s way. After a caning at the Orange by-election, the Coalition government is facing down the barrel of a repeat performance in Cootamundra if the Shooters and Fishers can find the right candidate.
Shooters’ MP Robert Borsak has made it clear that the party is gunning for Nationals power players like Adrian Piccoli, Troy Grant, Paul Toole and John Barilaro, which begs the question: If they’re targeting the Nationals, can the Liberals be far behind?
What we’re seeing is a state version of what we’ve seen at a federal level and indeed around the world. Disenfranchised voters who feel that the major parties no longer act in their best interests are looking for alternatives.
In the United States, that voter anger resulted in the election of Donald Trump and one of the most dysfunctional administrations in that country’s history. In the United Kingdom, the “Brexit” vote destabilised European markets and it threatens to cost the Brits a lot more than they expected.
Closer to home, One Nation has risen again, riding a new wave of populism and conservatism while left-leaning voters are finding the Greens more and more attractive.
It’s a beast created by the major parties themselves: A power vacuum left in the rapid rush to the middle of the road, with Labor and the Liberals spending so much time arguing over who should occupy the mountain, they lose sight of everyone else down on the plains.
The rise of an almost militant political correctness has also seriously damaged public discourse, to the point where everybody is so afraid of the way they say things that they forget to say anything of substance.
What we’re left with is a block of voters who feel like their voices aren’t being heard, their opinions left on the sidelines. And while it’s important to talk about things like same-sex marriage, closing the gap and immigration, most people are more concerned about power prices, jobs and education for their kids.
The next 18 months or so will be a major challenge for anyone considering a run at the next state election. If you stick to the talking points and play politics, you’re likely to lose out to a minor party maverick who may not have fancy words to sling about, but the ones they do have ring true with the voters.