I have just returned from a weekend in my home town helping out a friend standing as a candidate for Federal Parliament. I grew up in regional NSW in a great part of the world. Despite moving to the city four years ago I still feel connected to and passionate about rural and regional Australia.
For many people living in the city, life in the country is hard to imagine. And I know in many cases it’s not because city people don’t care (although I’m starting to realise some of our city politicians don’t give a damn) but because they haven’t experienced it. They haven’t had to pay to see a general practitioner because bulk billing is available, they haven’t had to travel for hours to visit a specialist or travel to a capital city and be away from their family and support network while they undergo cancer treatment and they haven’t had to experience the heartbreak of drought. It is for all these reasons and many more that I feel so strongly about the bush and rural and regional people having services on par with their city cousins.
So yesterday I spent the best part of six hours handing out how to vote pamphlets to voters in the Riverina at various locations around the electorate for The Nationals candidate Michael McCormack. Michael is someone who is committed to the region and will work hard to represent the interests of the rural and regional electorate he now represents. He will fight for his constituents, ensure that services and funding continue to flow to the region and represent their best interests.
It was a great day; there was no animosity or rudeness at the booths, despite the fact the Liberal Party also decided to stand a candidate running the risk of splitting the conservative vote. All of the volunteers were there because they believed in their candidates, National, Labor, Liberal, Green, Independent and so on and what they in turn stand for. So whether you agree or disagree with their political views it's impossible not to admire and respect them.
After the polls closed, the waiting for the results began. While the rest of the nation was on a knife edge (and still is) the news came through in just under two hours that Michael McCormack had been elected the new Member for Riverina.
You might be asking why I would go back home to help out on in an electorate I no longer live in. My hubby and I are country people at heart. We both care about rural and regional communities, particularly the ones we grew up in and where our family and friends live. One day we may return to live in the country and I’d like to see this part of Australia continue to grow and flourish. We need more people to stand up for these communities and understand the issues that they face. And finally I wanted to support a friend who has always supported me in my endeavours.
It was a tough campaign but at the end of the day, the people of the Riverina chose to elect a candidate they believe will stand up for them and fight for their interests in Canberra. I know Michael will do just that. Looking around the campaign celebrations last night I was inspired. Inspired by the former Member for Riverina Kay Hull who has dedicated the past 12 years of her life to the region and has delivered above and beyond, inspired by the new Member for Riverina who is full of enthusiasm and so committed to doing the best job for his region and finally inspired by the tireless volunteers who have worked so hard for this result. It was impossible not to be inspired, to believe and to be united by hope for the future.