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Nationals are dying a slow death

1 The junior partner in the Coalition, the National Party has been silenced and are no longer heard. The were known in my youth as the Country Party, and generally did what they were told .

All their leaders in my lifetime have been subservient to the Liberal leader. Now and then they made a bit of noise but the old slow talking fuddy-duddies stayed in the world of yesteryear and listened to Dad and Dave.

Nowadays they are unrepresentative of modern, highly technical , IT savy farmers who left Dad and Dave to contemplate the past while they got on with surviving in a vastly different landscape.

Then came a loud-mouthed water-stealing accountant who didn’t care who he offended so long as his voice and his self-interests were being taken care of.

After a period of time the loud-mouth was closed by louder voices who felt their voices were more important. He was replaced by “what’s his name,” oh well it doesn’t matter. His voice cannot be heard at all now. Mission accomplished.

But where are they now and what is their future? To say the organisation is old-fashioned would be an understatement. Seeing a bit of skirt at meetings would be highly unlikely.

But having put out to pasture the wrongs of Joyce the ageing male-dominated party has to ask itself just who it represents and just what its future might be.

Like their senior party, the Liberals, they have an identity crisis. What and who do they represent? They certainly don’t represent the image of the modern-day farmer. Certainly not the ones I see on television talking like scientists who know a bit about climate change. But first they have to overcome the outback ocker image portrayed by Barnaby Joyce and that can only be overcome with time. And time isn’t what they have.

They still have to deal with the accusations made against Barnaby Joyce by former WA Rural Women of the year Catherine Marriott.

It is believed that there are even more complaints to be made against Joyce. And WA leader Mia Davies, the lady who expressed no confidence in Joyce, is trying to overcome a party backlash because of her intervention. There are those like me who believe her intervention was part of a conspiracy to get rid of Joyce to give Turnbull a louder voice.

WA Nationals have never been represented in our National Parliament nor have SA, TAS or the ACT. Even their name is unrepresentative of who they are. It really is all a farce when you consider that they have 16 members in the House of Representatives with half the vote of the Greens, who have one.

The downfall of Joyce stands as a stark reminder that the Prime Minister couldn’t sack Joyce as a minister because he had signed a grubby piece of paper declaring himself a hypocrite for giving into Joyce on policies that he once so firmly believed in.

Like their senior party, the Nationals have very few people with any talent. Well, talent for effective governance. They even have one member in George Christensen who wants his party to quit the Coalition altogether.

The old Country Party is just hanging onto power by the crack of a stock whip on a cold morning. Many in the country are angry that their party never represented them with a fast NBN connection, and plenty of farmers feel let down by Nationals who have supported mining before agriculture.

Over the years it has often been muted that the two parties split. Maybe they should give it some more serious thought.

The Greens at the last election got 1.4 million primary votes, representing 10.2 per cent of the country for 1 seat.

Conversely, the Nationals got 624,555 (4.6 per cent). This delivers 16 seats in the House of Representatives.

2 Newspoll decided to hold off on its national poll until after the SA elections and Essential took a week off from their fortnightly poll. It puts back Newspoll’s 30th by a week. Yes, I’m looking forward to it, too.

My thought for the day

“On the NBN. The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow.”


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  1. Graeme Henchel

    Joyce is certainly a country member.

  2. Terry2

    John, that’s the nub of it, the fact that Turnbull as Prime Minister did not and does not have the power to sack a compromised minister who coincidentally was also our Deputy Prime Minister. He doesn’t even have the power to appoint his own Deputy.

    When a grubby political deal impacts on our constitutional arrangements and when we are not even permitted to see this dodgy coalition agreement then, something has fundamentally failed in our democracy.

  3. Pete

    I don’t recall seeing anyone actually explain just how this thing with the House of Reps seat numbers works and the Nationals getting so many more seats for so many fewer votes than the Greens.

  4. Möbius Ecko

    And you don’t mention the multi billions thrown at the Nationals over the years to buy their support in toeing the Liberal Party line, along with the pork to win National Party seats. Untold billions wasted for little to no return to the public good.

    The Nationals have always received largess and power way above their political and societal standing. Deputy PM/Premier for stuff’s sake, when was the deal for that woeful and undeserved role struck, and why has it continued?

  5. dc

    It’s because we don’t have ‘proportional’ representation based on population we have electoral ‘areas’.

    The House of Reps.
    The electoral ‘area’ provides a member from all the votes in ‘that’ area.

    I don’t remember the rules governing the Electoral Areas but there is a limitation on the physical size of the area vs the number of people. ie At a certain physical size an ‘area’ is declared regardless of how few people it may contain.

    So you have inner city areas with all their high rise & small house blocks having a huge number of people but only getting 1 rep in the parliament where an area in the bush has 20 people but covers a zillion sq klms and they also get 1 rep.

    The Senate.
    Works similar except the ‘area’ is the State.

    But even this is not proportional because each state has a ‘quota’ of seats regardless of it’s population size. ie

    Tasmania has 515,000 people
    NSW has 7.544 million

    Both get 12 Senate spots.

    Tasmania 1 per 42,916 people
    NSW 1 per 628,666 people

    There are no doubt many reasons why this was a good idea but I don’t think it is any longer.

    The usual argument is that if it was truly proportianal then people in the ‘bush’ wouldn’t get a say!
    Sure but if its based on every body getting a ‘say’ why haven’t we got an ‘Aborigional’ quota of reps?

    If we had a government system that ONLY concentrated on what’s good for the majority of people then maybe a true proportional system might work..
    but that would mean Reinhart and Packer got the same say as Mary from the poor suburb,
    Pffttt never gonna happen.

    standard disclaimer;
    Everything I say I could be wrong 🙂

  6. Freethinker

    dc, I agree with your views, my only concern it is if this system change who will look for the Tasmanian interest in the federal senate?
    may as well Tasmania merge with Victoria to have a good representation.

  7. Alpo

    Why was Joyce so blatantly “assassinated” by the Liberals, using the WA Nationals first and then the rest of that band of useless morons?…

    Perhaps because Joyce was starting to raise his head a bit too high? Was he becoming a little too cocky for what the leader of the Nationals is expected to be from the perspective of the Liberals?

    So it’s War within the Liberals, it’s War within the Nationals, it’s War between the Liberals and the Nationals…. and they are in government!

  8. tories out!

    @dc. you are partly right, the composition of the Senate is as you say, but, the House of Reps is not. There are 150 electorates and each electorate currently has approx. 150,000 people within its boundaries. (approx. 100,000 voters). the size of an electorate varies to accommodate that amount of people. boundaries are redrawn periodically as population changes or as per the seven year rule.

    @Alpo, assassinated you say? Joyce’s demise was more akin to him clearing a minefield by sticking his fingers in his ears and stamping his feet…

  9. dc

    but what is the “Tasmanian interest” and why is it different to some “other place interest”?

    We mostly all want the same things, health, education, roads etc etc if we try for an equitable society then that’s what we should get. Then what would we need the ‘dividing’ of the population into states for?

    Maybe because a divided population is much easier to control, divide and conquer as always been the way a few people can control the many.

    Shouldn’t government put the peoples interests first?

    I know, I know, dream on…. 😀

    Based on the number of votes req’d for Senate representative the the ‘Tasmanian’ interests are currently being way more looked after than the NSW interests.. you have 1 senator per 43k people..

  10. Freethinker

    dc, if there was no greed the distribution of wealth, good and services will be equal for all but as it is we do not have a hope.
    We just have to remember few moth ago how WA was asking for more……
    Yes, I also like to dream but so far we only have nightmares.

  11. dc

    @tories out
    Thanks for pointing that out. I woulda sworn… 🙂

    The only explanation then would be the Greens get a few votes in a lot of areas and the Nats get a lot of votes in a few areas..

    Hmmm, interesting, even in the House of Reps Tasmania is over represented..

    6.”Tasmania is guaranteed a minimum of five members under section 24 of the Constitution”

    based on population it would only be 3.

    I just keep dreaming of equitable..

  12. New England Cocky

    @dc: I think you could benefit form reviewing the Electoral Act and the relevant provisions of the Australian Constitution.

    The bicameral Parliament recognises the uneven economic development in states and the equal number of seats in the Seb=nate is the way that an equitable balance is maintained … at least in a perfect world.

    The “country gerrymander” perfected by Jon Bjelke-Petersen in Queensland was abolished by the Beattie ALP government, but recently re-invented in South Australia to give the LIarbrals an opportunity to pass public assets into private hands.

    The 1976 Country Party AGM was held in Armidale and 300/600 delegates resigned as they departed because of the name change to National$.

    It is easy to say that the National$ represent a 19th century dream, but there are still too many business persons in regional Australia who think the same way. Tamworth is the classic example, where it was the Tamworth business sector that promoted Joyce to the detriment of the New England electorate and Australian politics. Then in many regional centres, there are very many Barnyard clones who believe that the sun shines out of his anus.

    Still, it may now be said that “Women supporting Adultery support Joyce”, including McKenzie and Lamby, and extending that to a logical position of “Women supporting water theft support National$” and “Women Supporting Adultery Support National$”.

    Perhaps it is time for country women to gird up their skirts and take an active interest in Australian politics rather than rely upon their husbands voting for them.

  13. Keitha Granville

    This Tasmanian does not wan to join Victoria thank you.

    The Senate must always have the same number of representatives – otherwise the 2 giant states would ride roughshod over the rest of the country.

    In the lower house, the Nationals receive ALL the preferences from the Libs, that’s how they get in with such a tiny primary vote. The ONLY way to stop that would be primary votes only – first, second, third and so on – past the post. If you want to be totally fair and representative then adopt the Hare -Clark and each and every politician receives each and every piece of our vote. It’s complicated, but about as fair as you can get.

  14. Aortic

    Still love the Andrew Denton comment on how enamoured he was of the fact that abbreviations were now the norm. The Liberals are the Libs, the Nationals are the Nats and how sorry he was that the Country Party was not still around as the abbreviated name would have been so appropriate.

  15. wam

    Good morning LJ a clear cool day with but a little cloud over a possible replacement for marcus and there is still sad gaps where beautiful trees once stood. My family is still without power and $250 will be welcome.
    Funny odd that empty made no contact with us over the cyclone but, of course, the clp opposition has only two members and chief minister gunner is labor?

    Your regular musings on the differences between the greens votes and the nationals support has been both consistent and disingenuous.

    Whilst I have never been a fan of paddy manning(did you read his piece in the monthly??) but even he talks about the green/national split in a meaningful way.

    As simple look at the votes for the nationals show almost all of them receiving 700% of the green candidate.

    The proportional representation results from the senate have all but destroyed the greens power of veto. This must be a galling aspect to the boy’s of Di. Similarly was the Labor win in Batman. This should be an incentive to give brandt the treatment and win back melbourne.

  16. diannaart

    @ John Lord

    The Greens at the last election got 1.4 million primary votes, representing 10.2 per cent of the country for 1 seat.

    Conversely, the Nationals got 624,555 (4.6 per cent). This delivers 16 seats in the House of Representatives.

    Whenever, people from Labor or further to the Right, diss the Greens as never having enough support to ever make a difference, I think about the Nationals who manage to exert a very great influence on this “democracy”.

    Quite the conundrum…

  17. John O'Callaghan

    Turnbull bought Joyce’s loyalty for 30 pieces of silver,Joyce reneged on the deal and left Turnbull looking like a bigger idiot then he already is!

  18. Glenn Barry

    John Lord,

    Insightful and well researched article – as I have been wondering for some time – the Nationals have ceased to be of actual use to their constituents and now just serve as necessarily tolerated by the Libs to take power.

    If their constituents ever wake from their somnambulism the Nats are screwed

  19. wam

    The greens suck the cash out of every seat by having the candidates fund their campaigns except for a few who are given extra support. A bit like the phon rort??

    Dianaart and JL are happy to ignore the fact that the national vote is spread over a very small number of seats. Easily out polling the minor parties. Calare is a good example of a National win.

  20. RosemaryJ36

    I think the Country Party/Greens situation arises because there are a limited number of constituencies with a high proportion of CP supporters while there are Greens supporters in relatively small proportions in lots of constituencies. A case for proportional representation maybe.

  21. diannaart

    I agree, RosemaryJ36


    Not ignoring anything. Just pointing out inconsistencies.

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