We might think we’ve come down to the Liberals’ David Bowie versus Labor’s Beatles, but in reality it is more John Farnham versus the Skyhooks.
Would anyone be paying attention to this lot if they weren’t their own, politicians only a mother could love. Which is rather fitting after this last week in which our media decided to go personal, seemingly dissatisfied with the elevated discourse, hoping for more ‘Ditch the Witch’ than ‘Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent …’.
As we enter the final week both Bill Shorten and Scott Morrison struggle to establish the dominant narrative. Will it be the Climate Change Crisis coming to destroy our natural environment as we know it; or the Great Tax Armageddon coming to impoverish Australia. If this correspondent had to take a guess, even with Labor ahead in the polls, I’d be backing Bill Clinton’s nose “It’s the economy, stupid” for voters following hip-pocket self-interest, making for an unreadable result eight days out from election 2019.
Ex Prime Minister Paul Keating made a welcome entrance into the campaign last Sunday until it wasn’t so welcome. His comment that Australia’s intelligence agencies were being run by anti-China nutters caused an unusual response from Labor, which generally genuflects at all his utterances. Labor’s team were seen to be walking fast in the opposite direction. It is hard not to imagine Keating being filthy that his response was compared to President Trump’s dismissal of intelligence, it is a rare moment when the man who gave us the ‘dessicated coconut’ swings and misses so completely.
If politics is communication, advancing the conversation of a community in an effort to advance its interests, bad faith contributions are targeted toxicity, killing worthy efforts. In Cowper we are dealing with pollution in the electorate’s conversation about the Coffs Harbour Bypass, a project desperately needed to alleviate the heavy traffic within the city centre.
In short, the Bypass route was chosen recently from three different route options, moving the conversation forward to the next contested point. To traverse the coastal range on the edge of Coffs Harbour the community is concerned at the likely noise pollution from the new agreed route. As a concession to these and other concerns the NSW Government in the lead up to the State election agreed to explore the option for three tunnels instead of a greater incline and cuttings through the hills.
Naturally tunnels also require an Environmental Impact Study. This is where the conversation is currently being poisoned by Labor’s Andrew Woodward’s contributions. His language approximates the desperation of a politician searching in bad faith for an issue to beat up.
Woodward can be found splitting hairs on the meaning of Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s “the design will feature tunnels”, and going on to contrive inconsistency in the State’s Roads and Maritime Services’ recent statement on the forthcoming Environmental Impact Statement concerning those tunnels. It is hard not to wish on behalf of the community that Labor Headquarters would restrain the rot he is determined to introduce to get noticed.
Maybe his Bad Cop routine in comparison to independent Rob Oakeshott’s Good Cop routine will self-implode and do Coffs Harbour and Cowper a greater service. Labor has shown next to no interest in Cowper unless you count their recent announcement about the Eastern Seaboard High Speed Train with possible stations in Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. One Billion dollars used to signify a serious commitment but on this project it looks little more than fairy dust, or political smoke and mirrors to match the Coalition’s future bankable surpluses.
On actual contested points with real significance the Bypass has more than enough. To the west of Coffs centre is Coramba Road. The Bypass will have an intersection with this important secondary route between Coffs and Grafton. It will also provide the quickest route to the centre of the town from either Sydney or Brisbane once the Bypass is complete.
The Bypass can therefore be expected to have a significant increase in traffic on a road already under considerable stress from those commuting from beyond Red Hill and the coastal range (a road with few options for enlargement). It is plain to the eye that this great advancement for the community will cause a new problem requiring its own solution.
On the bright side and pertinent to the discerning reader, commuters from the South or the North will come to have far easier access to one of the best low key country pubs going, the Coramba Hotel, from this new intersection.
Everyone should do themselves a favour and grab a drink of choice or a meal from the Broadaxe Bistro and head to the beer garden to enjoy the delights of the Orara Valley. It is said that when settlers first came to Coffs Harbour, when having many areas to choose from, they crossed the coastal range and settled in the Orara Valley, an area of brilliant natural beauty and the most agreeable weather that can be found year round in Australia.
On the wider campaign, the United Australia Party’s Lex Stuart has left the reservation with his claim that he cured his children’s illnesses with Vitamin C, making a play for the fruitiest of voters in Bellingen, while GetUp is apparently determined to play a part in Cowper’s election. At the moment it has only caused a little fancy footwork from Oakeshott who is keen to claim no connection with the organisation while pressing home their right to get involved (conveniently preferencing him in their efforts).
The Prime Minister and his media entourage visited Cowper yesterday for morning tea at Port Panthers. Scomo, stepping up to deliver the Bingo call for the Legacy widows and assorted guests, will be hoping his one-man band brings home the numbers next weekend, delighting more than just the old ladies who ventured to Settlement City, and allowing retiring member Luke Hartsuyker to ride off into Cowper’s political sunset.