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EDITORIAL: Pondering the value of a vote

A declaration from Horsham district’s Claudia Haenel to stand as an independent in next year’s Federal Election has raised a hoary old question about what’s politically best for the Wimmera-Mallee.

Many suggest being in long-term politically safe federal and state electorates, regardless of which side of politics is involved, automatically applies the brakes on a region’s growth and development. 

Their argument is that there is little need to impress people in these electorates to win votes, so investment or investment promises go elsewhere.

Others, on the other hand, argue just as strongly that having a sense of solidarity and a consistent presence reflective of on-the-ground representation is far better in gaining influence, investment and growth.

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They argue that it’s better to be in a position where a representative has opportunity to be part of government.

Apply party politics and persuasion, and suddenly there is an extra complexity to this electoral melting pot.

So in steps the idea of independent candidates to, in theory at least, try to get the best of both political worlds in a hope of controlling the balance of power and – to use a line from Democrats’ inaugural leader Don Chipp – ‘keep the bastards honest’.

There is legitimacy in all these points of view but we can’t help but wonder whether, in the end, it all really comes down to how we consider or perceive individual candidates.

Call it human nature or something different, but people, despite being armed with clear knowledge about what it means to vote in a particular way, will often simply vote for someone or something about a candidate they know, like or respect through association.

In years of covering Wimmera elections, perhaps the most common response from people asked why they voted a particular way goes something like, ‘because I like her, or him, more than the others’. So much for tactical political manoeuvring.

With federal and state elections looming next year we can expect a bombardment of political messaging to start growing on various media platforms as we enter a new year.

We should never take our democratic right to vote in a democracy for granted – some people around the world don’t have the privilege of having high levels of self-determination.

So when it comes to the polls, regardless of whether you live in a ‘swinging’ or ‘safe’ seat, continue to consider the people putting up their hands. But also think about the broader options, which should be based on platforms and policy.

The entire December 8, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!