It’s official: Australian politics has jumped the shark. If you’re not familiar with the phrase, it’s a reference to an episode of Happy Days where The Fonz, complete with leather jacket, jumps over a shark while water skiing.
It was a cheap, desperate attempt at publicity that marked a deteriorating standard and we’ve seen the same from our political masters this week.
When Pauline Hanson decided to wear a burqa into the senate on Thursday, she had a strong affinity with Milwaukee’s coolest dude, jumping squarely into a silly stunt to grab attention.
But while Hanson was parading about in conservative garb, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian did everything she could to avoid the spotlight on Thursday morning.
Following a loud outcry from the Griffith community about the state of public health services, the government decided to hold a cabinet meeting in the western Riverina city.
However, that same community decided to press the advantage and protest outside the Exies Club, joined by a crew of council amalgamation protesters from our side of the Riverina.
The result was hundreds of people eager to give the Premier a piece of their mind when she arrived on Thursday morning, but instead of fronting up to the throng, she slipped in through the rear car park.
For those who’ve never been to Griffith’s Exies Club, there’s a lovely driveway at the front door which would lend itself to a visiting dignitary.
So why on earth did our Premier skulk in through the rear? The official version will likely be that it was a matter of security, or that it was where the car was parked, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that this was a tactic to avoid dealing with the angry crowd that had gathered to protest the Premier.
People across the Riverina are upset at what they perceive to be a government out of touch with community expectations. There’s still real anger about forced amalgamations and the growing gap between city and country infrastructure spending.
Sure, the triad of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong hold a lot more people and therefore should get more money from the state government, but we’re right to question the value for money that expenditure is getting.
The announcement of an additional $500 million for regional areas is great, but you know what would be even better? Listening to the real concerns of the people.