Twelve years of being taken for granted. It could have been so different. 

Myall Lakes has been a safe National seat for too long. Why should they bother actually doing much for the area when they know a majority of locals will dutifully go along and vote National. ‘Cause they always have. 

Has no one noticed that we only get crumbs and general grant handouts to keep us quiet, even though we’re told how fabulous this grant is, how lucky we are to be given this sand bucket of funds. They smile for the photo op and disappear till the next handout to keep us quiet. 

Meanwhile has no one noticed the Big Nats are filling their coffers with funds from fossil fuel projects et all? 

What farmer really thinks the Nationals care about what’s happening to our agricultural land, our farms and forests, our welfare, while they lobby for fossil fuel profits and bigtime jobs abroad. 

We had a chance here. The grumbles were getting louder then suddenly we had a new contender in the field as a caring Independent. 

It’s a tough gig to return home after working in Sydney and run to be our State Member. To be known, heard and met in the massive Myall electorate, to gather the funds, helpers, and meet as many people as possible, to get your message across about how you see the future and what you’ll do about it. 

Dr Jason Bendall moved back home, a breath of fresh air, honest and smart. A local boy who truly cares. We hope like heck he sticks around for the next time around. Given what he faced though, one can’t blame him if he runs a mile. 

Said former Mayor Taree Greater Council, Paul Hogan   “ I believe we will see Dr Jason Bendall’s name in the future as a local MP. He is a man who genuinely cares for his community. His campaign ( against a well funded Party machine) was genuine and caring,  conducted with the values he stands for – integrity, respect and empathy for his community. We hope to see more of him in the future.”

Running the Gauntlet

Major polling booths were a war zone. Running the gauntlet of in-your-face flapping leaflets, red-faced shouts and in some cases, shoves, was daunting. 

Occasionally there was a slanging match between those handing out How to Vote leaflets for various parties, which, while some might have been good-natured if stinging, some were downright aggressive and rude. 

Witness the following exchange. 

Man. ‘So who are you supporting?’

Woman. ‘I’m wearing purple, who do you think? Read my shirt.’

Man. ‘So? What’dya stand for?’

Woman. ‘We stand for Integrity and Honesty.’

Man. ‘Bah. You don’t make money that way.’

The skirmishes started early with the disappearance of some candidates’ corflutes (posters) and nasty social media.

One old fellow was busy counting as he stood in a queue to vote.

‘Can I ask what you are doing?’

‘Counting all the green and yellow Tshirts, bunting, signs on a building, flags and banners. I’ve added up a heck of a lot of money. And then there’s the donations. Plus the busloads of old folk from the nursing homes they bring in.’ He shook his head. ‘How can local candidates afford all that? These old people want better conditions in Aged Care, yet they keep voting for the same mob.’ He shook his head in some dismay.

“Cause Our Family Always Voted That Way”

The demographics in our electorate are slowly changing, with millennials and city people working from home who want a better, hassle free lifestyle with perhaps a view, a nice back garden, a few chooks and good internet. (Good luck there.) This means people who don’t necessarily vote National.  

With local grumbles about the roads, hospital, aged care, jobs, somewhere to live, the over development and loss of environment, all starting to be heard down south, we had a parade of senior National Party/Liberal leaders spin through our towns from (former) Premier Perrottet and Ministers down. 

But now Myall Lakes is stuck with a party out of office and where Head Office don’t seem to give much of a stuff about us up here in no doubt what they consider, the boondocks. 

I did not meet candidates for the Legalise Cannabis Party, the Sustainable Australia Party, or the National Party. I did meet Independent Dr Jason Bendall, Labor candidate Mark Vanstone, and Eleanor Spence, the Greens candidate, whom I found to be decent people who ran in the election to help their communities, mostly funded from their own pockets and credit cards. Hopefully they scored enough votes to help recompense them. 

After twelve years, there are fears we are in for more of the same where the new National Party representative, Tanya Thompson, the former staff secretary to the late Stephen Bromhead MP, promised in her TV ads to carry on his work and plans.

At least the leash from the Nationals has been loosened somewhat with the Party no longer in office. But how far down the food chain are we?

In Myall we need new thinking, clever ideas, more care of our environment, help for people doing it tough, inventive business opportunities to provide more jobs. We need a more caring, efficient and up front council who can admit when there’s a stuff up, and move to fix the problem openly and frankly. 

We hope Tanya will keep a watchful eye on them and now make Manning Base Hospital the priority.

A vote, a say in how we see our community run, is a precious gift. Not to be taken lightly. 

Let’s hope Labor will break through the crumbling walls of fortress National and do what was promised. 

And let’s give Tanya a chance to break out and do things perhaps rather differently. 

We’ll be watching.


(Tanya Thompson was approached for a comment but did not respond before going to press.)

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