Yes, it’s eight months until the next NSW state election, but in the vein of my last post, I thought I’d give the state election a go, too. It may be over six months before the campaign officially begins, but I already have deep misgivings about the state election. I may as well voice them now, because after the first week of advertising, I’m likely to just throw up my hands and declare, “Screw it! Death warrants for all!” and leave it at that.

I find myself now in the state electorate of Burrinjuck, which—thanks to repeated redistribution—very nearly manages not to include the village of Burrinjuck itself. In contrast to the last federal election, only three candidates stood for the state poll.

Given the Christian Democrats’ and Family First’s absence at the last outing, it mightn’t be too great an exaggeration to describe Burrinjuck (the electorate) as “God-forsaken”, and I guess the region doesn’t quite figure highly enough into Queen Elizabeth’s plans for world domination to interest the Citizens’ Electoral Council. Ah, but she’s a wily old minx…

Country Labor: Not too long ago, I had one of those Parry-esque epiphanies that enabled me to discern the difference between Country Labor and regular Labor. I mean, they caucus together, they believe in the same platform and they hardly form separate blocs in parliament. Hell, the words “Coke” and “Pepsi” have a greater semantic difference than “Country Labor” and “Labor”—but there’s still some subtle difference between the two.

Sadly, however, that moment of kensho passed, so we’re going to have to assume that they’re the same thing. In summation, then, if it walks like a goose, and honks like a goose, then the only way it’s getting my grain is if pâté de foie gras is on the menu. Yes, I’ve been in the country too long; I’m making animal metaphors.

Granted, Kristina Keneally’s easier on the eye than Barry O’Farrell, but were that any saving grace, then I might cut Getaway‘s hosts some slack, too. (Hint: Mim finds Getaway pretty unbearable when I’m in the room. She’s not too keen on it when I’m out of the room, but my presence—and ranting—apparently makes it worse.)

And, really, do I have to state why I don’t want Labor back in? The succession of Carr, Iemma, Rees and now Keneally have turned NSW from the pride of the Commonwealth into an embarrassing, bankrupt wreck. Labor has failed NSW across every single portfolio, although, it should be said, things may have already been on the downturn when they took office in 1995. By the time March rolls around, they’ll have had 16 years in office to fix it. They don’t deserve four more.

The Greens: Pretty much everything I said in my previous post applies to the Greens in NSW; however, I’d like to make special mention of Lee Rhiannon, who’s stepping down from her position in the NSW Legislative Council to run for the Senate. After doing a sterling job holding the other parties to account, she went and misused NSW parliamentary resources to promote her federal campaign—and then claimed it was all a typo. Which is a bit like running down children at a school crossing, and then trying to shift all the blame onto your brakes.

Shenanigans aside, the big problem with the Greens is that they’re so far from being a political power in their own right that none of their campaign commitments are actually accountable to the voting public. Even if they do have the secret recipe for environmentally friendly, yet socially responsible and economically viable governance, they’re not likely to find themselves with the keys to the spice cupboard in the near future anyway. And so, whilst they can claim that nine of the eleven secret herbs aren’t in fact lard, all anyone else can go on is face value—and the taste of grease.

The Nationals: My sitting member is the Nationals’ Katrina Hodgkinson. To be honest, I wouldn’t know her from a bar of soap, although I suspect that if I rubbed Ms Hodgkinson all over myself in the shower, I’d probably need serious counselling and a regimen of further showers before I ever felt clean again.

I’ve always wondered what (apart from desperation, maybe) keeps the Nationals in the Coalition. They’re stuck in the unenviable position where, if they agree with their senior Liberal partners, then their members see them as selling out for the promise of an occasional reach-around—but if they disagree, then the Libs start baying for National blood and nothing gets done in parliament as a consequence.

As far as policy goes, the Nats would be better off hooking up with the Greens’ more moderate members and spinning off the rest to either reinvigorate the left wing of the Labor Party, or to join their comrades on the lunatic left fringe. Hell, given Labor’s marked shift to the right in recent decades, the Nats could just as easily become the centre-left of the ALP.

For the time being, though, the Nats and the Libs have an uneasy, morganatic marriage, which means that during election time, the Nats dance to Barry O’Farrell’s tune. Barry isn’t too bad a bloke, when he’s not pretending that his duty as Opposition Leader consists solely of contrarian bitching and gaming the system, but most of his talent is in the Legislative Council and not on the front benches of the Legislative Assembly, where he sorely needs it.

What really soured me on the Coalition (and by extension, the Nationals)—more than eight months out from polling day—was Shadow Attorney-General Greg Smith’s announcement that under a Coalition government, graffiti vandals could look forward to having their Learner’s Permit or Provisional Licence periods extended if caught.

I could understand it if Smith suggested putting graffiti vandals on chain gangs to clean the graffiti up, but even in my mid-thirties, I still don’t see the connection between spray cans and poor driving, and can’t imagine how a teenaged or early-twenties offender might make that leap of logic, either. If anything, I’d expect their artistic endeavours to improve their spatial perception, and not require them to gain additional experience before driving on a full licence.

This policy also presupposes that, having already committed property crimes by spraying their tag in a public place, offenders will suddenly find themselves in awe of traffic laws. Perhaps they’ll stop swearing in public, too, huh? To make matters worse, Smith’s gripe seems to be that graffiti offenders are avoiding punishment entirely—in which case, all his policy does is allow police and magistrates another avenue by which to not prosecute these crimes.

Finally, Smith made his announcement alongside the Liberal candidate for Kiama, Cr Gareth Ward, who—as a consequence of his albinism—is legally precluded from driving a car. Now, either Smith was too stupid to consider this oversight ahead of time, or he proceeded regardless, making Cr Ward and the entire Coalition look like hypocrites in front of Kiama’s constituents.

For what it’s worth, Cr Ward has been a good friend to both Mim and myself for many years, and it pains me to see such an intelligent, talented and dedicated public representative tarred thusly by Smith’s inept brushstrokes—but I guess we can’t expect much from a man who used to loudly assert that his imaginary pal’s claim to women’s uteruses extinguished those of the women themselves.

In effect, then, a vote for the Nationals is a vote for Smith’s heedless, half-baked brand of jurisprudence and for the people who enable him. I think I’ll pass.