With NSW holding its local government elections just six weeks from tomorrow, now is the time voters truly need to be assessing candidates who possess the ability to look ahead, not party candidates who merely toe the party line forever and ever.
What we really need, because of the abject failure of the great majority of party pre-selected candidates in our three tiers of government in the past 25 years or so, is massive change and an agenda leading eventually (sooner rather than later) to a new two-tier system of government that eliminates duplication of federal and state government departments. That means, in short, out with the states, and in with enlarged regional local governments. And, now is the time as enlightened voters focus on the NSW elections in six weeks' time - especially those who have been subject to the failed amalgamations. Why now, you ask?
Let me tell you what Senator Malcolm Roberts of Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party told members of the Bowen Chamber of Commerce: "Australia is facing major problems brought about by successive federal governments, both Labor and Liberal, who have failed to protect rural and regional Australia"; hardly a wrap for the Nationals.
Former Wagga mayor, Bruce Hedditch, said Senator Roberts hit the mark with businessmen in Bowen, and it must be said from reports to FOMM from correspondents around eastern Australia, in particular, that if we want change in this nation, we need it sooner rather than later and it would help if we got it, as many commentators are now saying, through local government, which is the closest to the everyday action.
For example, why, during this COVID plague, has there not been a solitary call by any government or major party, or an MP of one, questioning why metropolitan cities and developers are letting over-crowded suburbs evolve?
John Sutton of Lyneham, ACT, in The SMH, wrote: "Has anyone calculated what it costs per year to run six state governments and two territories, including MPs and associated state public sector employees? Other countries with much higher populations manage with two tiers of government".
"Currently, each state is coping with COVID-19 in its own way and they are squabbling with each other to everyone's detriment. This serious matter should be dealt with by a central government and we would know whom to hold accountable for success and failures".
A future federation inclusive of regional councils as its second tier, taking responsibility for education, public works, health, courts, police forces (one national police force is sufficient), right down to things such as libraries et al. and, not forgetting, that vital resource - water and the conservation of it, never again to be entrusted in the care of a state government, is another way to get people into the regions.
Other ideas and observations to hit the FOMM suggestion box in the past fortnight include: from the column's Central Coast contact, former Wagga resident, Allan Norris: "I try to keep smiling but I have never been more frustrated in my life, not helped by being in a lockdown but it is incredible how the state governments have shown absolutely no compassion for families suffering all sorts of privations trying to visit dying relatives, for example, yet the media were allowed into St Vincent's hospital to film a COVID patient for the nightly news".
We voters must start questioning the credentials of candidates beginning with the local government elections ...
From a Wagga reader: "The government is sinking fast; however, Alby and company are not doing anything positive (still no policies). Is it possible that Western Australia may now even think of seceding?".
However, this gem from the 30-year veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery, Paul Bongiorno, in Melbourne's The Saturday Paper, says it is all about the attitude of major parties and especially the Coalition leader, Scott Morrison, rapidly closing on Tony Abbott as its worst ever leader: "Morrison showed more urgency in campaigning for Mathias Cormann to become secretary-general of the OECD. At that time, he made 50 phone calls to other world leaders; he made not one to the head of Pfizer".
We voters must start questioning the credentials of candidates beginning with the local government elections on September 4, don't give them an easy ride. Instead, remember this "reference" a great Canberra Press Gallery journalist, Jack Waterford, gave Morrison a fortnight ago: " ... Morrison has pretty much squandered his credibility, his authority and his moral credit with voters".
Let's make sure we start the Federation change at Wagga in six weeks by electing those who are attentive about others, not themselves.