Monday, August 12, 2013

Election 2013: Letter From Sophie

Last week we received our first letter from an Indi candidate. It was from our current sitting member, Sophie Mirabella, and was part of an application for postal voting. Unfortunately my wife tossed it in the fire before I had a chance to scan and comment on it. Luckily our second letter from Sophie arrived in the mail today.

First of all Sophie, I understand that the official rules regarding the use of official letterheads in electioneering material are still unclear, but it's not a good look. Having taxpayers fund the stationery you use to plead for our vote just smells bad.

I can't see anywhere on this letter that actually indicates which side you barrack for. You say you're a senior member of the Coalition team, but weren't Labor and the Independents in a coalition in this last parliament? You seem to indicate this in the second paragraph. Maybe that's one of the rules of using your official letterhead, that you can't use the words Liberal Party. Or Tony Abbott.

Apparently this election is about giving us and families in the Murrindindi region a better future. So what do you think will swing our vote?
  • More jobs
  • Fix roads
  • Better broadband and mobile phone coverage
  • Bushfire detecting and monitoring technology
 Let's look at these in a little bit more detail.

More jobs
You say you will build a sustainable local economy, thereby creating more jobs. That's nice. In what areas? And how? With what money? Apparently getting the budget back in to surplus is one of the top priorities of the Liberal Party. That means cutting programs, not creating new ones. Is it the company tax rate cut of 1.5%? That won't help many businesses in the area that are set up using alternative structures. Changes to employment conditions? That has already been categorically ruled out by your leaders.

Building a sustainable local economy has less to do with government intervention and more to do with individual and collective initiative. How will you help us create new business ventures and projects? Eliminate the carbon tax? That will do nothing. Stop the boats? Ditto. I've read the Liberal Party Pamphlet (Real Solutions for all Australians) and there's nothing in there about how to build a sustainable local economy.

Fix roads
The corner of Watsons Road and Jorgensen Parade is starting to develop some serious potholes here. Can you get that fixed? Local government issue I hear you say. What about Kinglake-Whittlesea Road? Whittlesea-Yea Road? Melba Highway? Which "local" roads can you secure money for fixing? Or doesn't this apply to our region?

Better broadband services
Does this mean the Liberal Party now supports the NBN? Or are you talking about Turnbull's alternative plan, with fibre to the node? Will there be a node near where we live? Who pays for the connection to my house, which is about 100 metres from the road?

Improved mobile phone coverage
Does the Liberal Party want to nationalise the mobile phone networks and improve our coverage directly? Or will you fund the infrastructure required to eliminate the black spots in our region? Or is this simply talking to Telstra, Optus et al to get them to do the heavy lifting, where you'll then take the credit?

Bushfire detecting and monitoring technology
Forgive me for sounding just a bit jaded here, but Black Saturday would have occurred even with the best bushfire detection technology available. This smacks just a little of retrospective caring about what happened in 2009. How is this supposed to win my vote?

Is this the best you've got? Are these the only issues your focus groups have indicated as important to our region?

Not that I'm entirely surprised. According to the 2011 the Shire of Murrindindi has just over 10,000 people eligible to vote, which would be less than 10% of the total voting population of the electorate of Indi. Why would you spend serious time dealing with the southern end of Indi, when there are rural cities such as Wangaratta and Wondonga that provide a greater opportunity to reach a critical mass of voters?

One final point, Sophie. Having an old photo and a quote from Fran Bailey endorsing you does not, in any way, help you to reach out to us. You may as well put a photo of John Howard on your letter with some fake quote from him for all the good it does.

I am now eager to receive letters from other candidates for Indi to see if they have the same level of connectedness about what issues matter to voters in the Murrindindi region.

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