On the ABC TV election special last Saturday night a Liberal commentator when first referring to results from Coffs Harbour acknowledged that the bypass issue was important but then went on to say that local voters didn’t realise that they were already going to get tunnels because ‘land bridges are tunnels’.
By the Editor
About 10 days before the State election COB, a wise commentator who appears often here at Outlook, said to me; ‘You watch the next thing that will happen with the bypass debate is that they will play semantics with words. They will say tunnels have a roof. So do land bridges have a roof. So ipso facto land bridges are tunnels.’
How prescient, as always, COB.
Yes, on Saturday night on the ABC’s election coverage that is exactly what was argued by a Liberal Party commentator when discussing election results from Coffs Harbor and the issue of the bypass.
Yet the National Party in Coffs Harbour ran hard on saying only they could deliver a bypass with tunnels.
More than just a few of their voters would have voted for them because of that promise. In fact that promise may even have been crucial locally.
Clearly National Party research showed it was an issue to be neutralised and addressed in the Coffs Harbour electorate. Otherwise signs like the one below would not have occurred.
In an election that was strangely status quo in many ways, even though the National Party was forced to preferences in Coffs Harbor for the first time in ages, one notable feature was the swing against the National Party. Especially west of the Great Divide. Water issues and the Murray Darling no doubt had a lot to do with that.
But another reason more broadly undoubtedly is that the National Party is seen to have deserted its base over the past six years in particular. Mining and other special donor interests are seen to have taken priority over farmers and regional communities. Many of whom are now their former voters.
So before summarising what successful National Party candidate Gurmesh Singh needs to do over the next four years let’s just consider some definitions first;
A land bridge, in biogeography, is an isthmus or wider land connection between otherwise separate areas, over which animals and plants are able to cross and colonise new lands. (Wikipedia, 2019)
A tunnel is an underground passageway, often bored through the surrounding soil/earth/rock and enclosed except for entrance and exit, commonly at each end. A pipeline is not a tunnel, though some recent tunnels have used immersed tube construction techniques rather than traditional tunnel boring methods. (Wikipedia, 2019).
And guess what? It’s the latter people in Coffs Harbour want. Largely because of noise and aesthetic reasons.
So, to Gurmesh Singh, warmest congratulations on your win last Saturday.
Now the hard work starts. If you want to differentiate yourself then fighting for and succeeding in enforcing your promises is going to be crucial.
The bypass will be one of your biggest tests. Voters are saying they don’t want the National Party to be a mere appendage to the Liberal Party.
Here is an issue for you to differentiate yourself early on. Do what you told the Coffs Action Bypass Group’s election forum and fight for real road tunnels.
Prove that Liberal Party commentator wrong and that semantic arguments such as theirs wont ‘cut it’.
On the other hand taking note of your former Federal leader’, Barnaby Joyce, and his latest suggestion might be more problematic. See: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/barnaby-joyce-says-nationals-must-shift-to-the-right-to-counter-shooters-threat-20190325-p517go.html