Goulburn and Crookwell voters give Hume election thoughts

FARMERS: Kim and James Weir on their Crookwell district property, 'Pinewalla' say water and biosecurity are big election issues. Photo: Clare McCabe.
FARMERS: Kim and James Weir on their Crookwell district property, 'Pinewalla' say water and biosecurity are big election issues. Photo: Clare McCabe.

It's been dubbed the climate change election but the issue isn't top of Kim Weir's mind.

As voters go to the federal poll on Saturday, the Crookwell district grazier, says biosecurity and water security are much more crucial to the agricultural sector.

Mr Weir and his son, James run Pinewalla Stud, a mixed sheep, prime lambs and certified seed potato enterprise on the road to Goulburn. While not revealing which way he was voting, Kim Weir said the Coalition's $30,000 instant asset write-off was attractive for landholders and business.

"That's the attraction with the Liberal policies - to grow small business and give them the opportunity to employ more people," he said.

"Without small business there is no future employment and growth in the economy."

But with animal activists coming on to farms "unannounced," he was also keen to see tighter biosecurity controls.

"That's raised a huge concern for us," Mr Weir said.

"At the end of the day, being farmers we're just going about our day to day lives and making our livelihood and these issues are going against our way of life. Both parties claim they will take a firm stance against it, and I'm hoping they will."

He's also been watching the Murray-Darling River debate with interest. Mr Weir said water allocations must be done fairly. Overall, he called for strategies to harvest water from rivers in peak flows to offset all farmers' challenges.

Mr Weir did not doubt climate change was happening but questioned whether the current drought was "just another cycle."

He said at the end of the day people needed to eat and significant emission reduction targets, like New Zealand's, would have a "huge effect" on what farmers could produce.

Meantime, Crookwell businessman Floyd Davies said from a small business perspective, there wasn't a great deal between the major parties.

"As a small/medium business owner its always good to be politically "sitting on the fence" so that you can make up your mind on what's on offer at the time," he said.

"For this upcoming election from a small business owner's perspective there's not a lot between the major parties so I think my vote will probably come down to who is addressing climate change and which party wants to look into the future (more than three years ahead). Tax cuts for our generation won't mean much to the next generation if we don't address future climate issues."

Mr Davies said small businesses were the backbone of places like Crookwell but over the past 15 years they'd been "immersed in red tape." While both parties had focused on tax breaks and asset write offs, the "real fix" was to introduce measures to make businesses financially independent quicker, with less compliance work.

Floyd Davies (centre) pictured at a 2017 business award ceremony for his IGA Supermarket Bakery. Photo supplied.

Floyd Davies (centre) pictured at a 2017 business award ceremony for his IGA Supermarket Bakery. Photo supplied.

But as far as Goulburn man Stewart Thomson is concerned, none of the Hume candidates deserve a vote or taxpayer money.

"I can't support any of the current regime," he said.

"...No parties represent good value for the average punter, nor do they deserve the dollars attached to each vote.

"Each of the majors have something to offer, which is negated by their associations to industry and the National Party or unions and zealots within the Green movement."

Mr Thompson said it was "nonsense" for Labor and Liberal to rely on minor parties for support. He believed optional preferential voting should apply at the federal election and above the line voting scrapped.

Business owner, Cody Jafrrey from Crookwell said "we need a straight-shooting parliament.

"I don't like our current political system that it can be hung or blocked by the other party. Their policies should be set or they're not," he said.

He had hoped to see more policies which focused on the ageing population, the health system, and jobs by the incoming federal government. "I'd like to see better job security, and the benefits of our resources (natural gas for example)," Mr Jaffrey said.

He is concerned about water security. The money generated by licenses would be better spent on securing water, in piping networks or desalination plants, he said.

In Goulburn again, 20-year-old Shernoah Evans said young voters are disengaged and distrustful. She thinks that if the voting age were raised young people would cast a more informed vote. It would also ease pressure felt by young voters just out of school.

However, "I'm not interested," Ms Evans said, "I don't believe a lot of things they say; they promise a lot and don't follow through, and they mask a lot of things."

Out at Dalton, a resident who did not wish to be identified for privacy reasons, said he was still undecided about his vote.

Six years ago he installed solar panels on his cottage so he wasn't dependent on the grid.

"People assume I did it because I was concerned about the environment," he said.

"I do have very big concerns about it but I did it because of the grid's unreliability and the cost of electricity. You only have to look over the past 10 years to see how much electricity and gas prices have gone up."

The man said when he did the figures, going off grid was more cost effective and offered a more reliable supply.

What will make a difference to me is a massive change in the way politicians conduct themselves

Dalton voter

While Dalton was without electricity on two separate days over the past fortnight due to scheduled maintenance, solar kept the lights on at the man's house.

He's in the process of installing a more efficient system.

But he's also unconvinced that more wind and solar farms are the answer to the country's problems.

"How will renewables keep the trains running in Sydney and the aluminium smelters operating or are we prepared to sacrifice those businesses?" he asked.

While he believed something needed to be done about gas and coal fired power plants, he argued there should be more investment in new power generation technology.

The man described himself as a swinging voter who was disenchanted with the major parties' offerings.

"What will make a difference to me is a massive change in the way politicians conduct themselves," he said.

"We don't have leadership and they play the person a lot and that reflects on the community."

He noted the large number of voters pre-polling and said this was either because people had made up their mind or apathy.

A total 19,039 people out of 116,469 eligible voters in Hume, or 16.3pc, had pre-polled, the AEC confirmed.

Goulburn man Phil Thompson wants to see a review of rental assistance and more affordable housing. Photo: Louise Thrower.

Goulburn man Phil Thompson wants to see a review of rental assistance and more affordable housing. Photo: Louise Thrower.

Elsewhere, climate change isn't a major factor in Goulburn man Phil Thompson's (no relation to Stewart) political thinking.

"It's a factor but I don't think it affects Australia as much as what people, including The Greens, are saying," he told The Post.

"Droughts come and go but I don't think Australia's overall effect on emissions is that much."

Mr Thompson says the cost of living is much more important to him.

He's been calling for a review of government rent assistance payments for years. In a letter to the editor, he stated that the level hadn't changed in 28 years.

"There are a lot of older people in Goulburn," he said.

"There are a lot of people out there renting at high prices and they're finding it hard.

"Overall, I'm not a climate change fanatic. At my age, 70, I need to think about myself and the cost of living."