By FIONA PATTEN
I am not going to sugar coat it. No skating around the issue here. The last couple of weeks have been tough for the new Reason Coalition. Pretty, pretty tough.
Member for Mildura Ali Cupper and I were in tense negotiations on the state of emergency extension bill.
We had said we would not vote for the bill in the form it came to us – and we did not.
In fact, Ali voted against it twice, whilst we made the decision to support the Bill in the Upper House with significant amendments. We stuck to our word. Not that you knew that if you read the paper, listened to the radio or read social media.
You certainly wouldn’t have thought we got significant amendments across the line if you listened to the Liberal National Party. They spent thousands and thousands of dollars dropping flyers across the electorate spreading misinformation about Ali and the Reason Coalition.
Despite the fact her own party wanted to extend the state of emergency, Liberal MP Wendy Lovell, not often seen in Mildura, paid for social media posts that said the Reason Coalition voted to ‘lock you in your house and destroy your business’ (at this stage please imagine I just eye-rolled significantly).
I know this isn’t what people in Mildura, or anywhere in Victoria, want to see their politicians doing.
It’s our job to represent and advocate for our constituents and that’s what Ali, Reason and I are doing. We believe that people, particularly the people we truly represent, have had enough of the negative campaigning. You are far more effective when you talk about plans to improve the lives of everyday people and society.
The backlash to the Liberal Nationals misleading flyer drop should have given them pause for thought but it would seem they are tone deaf to what Victorians really want. As to their support for small business in the Maliee region? There was no ‘going local’ for the I.NP flyers – all printing was done in Melbourne by one of their big business mates.
You won’t see Reason dropping negative flyers across Northern Victoria intended to do nothing hut denigrate our political opposition. We have better things to do with our tiny promotional budgets than to spend it on flinging crass personal insults and making misleading statements designed to scare and confuse the public.
If that’s the space the Liberal Nationals in the region want to inhabit, then go right ahead.
The Reason Coalition want to talk about the issues and concerns of Victorians everywhere, and in particular those in the Maliee region. We want to do things like lobby for a bigger hospital for Mildura; make a case for the return of a passenger rail service; fight for a desperately needed drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for the region; get action on the vexed issue of regional rate disparity and keep pushing the government to fix country roads.
Ali and I will keep doing what we believe is the right thing for the community. The political whingers on the other side can just take a hike.
Fiona Patten MP is the Member for Northern Metropolitan and Leader of The Reason Coalition.