THE sums just don’t add up: the second biggest city in the electorate + a campaign with 10 candidates = zero political promises for Griffith.
Just two weeks out from the federal election, locals could be excused for wondering if the city was even included in the campaign.
Of the 10 candidates representing the Riverina, not one resides in Griffith (although one is based in Queensland and another in Papua New Guinea) and none of them have made any commitments to the hub of the MIA.
With the two main players – Michael McCormack for The National Party and Tim Kurylowicz for Labor – based in Wagga, Griffith has largely been ignored.
The Riverina is a notoriously safe Nationals seat but Democratic Labor Party president Paul Funnell – also based in Wagga – said that needed to change before the region would see any federal investment.
“The community appears disconnected because nothing is happening to engage them,” Mr Funnell said.
“They’ve been ignored for decades and I really feel for Griffith.”
Mr Funnell pointed out the desperate need for freight terminal funding, mental health facilities and protection for citrus farmers in the region – none of which have been addressed by local candidates.
Former independent Riverina candidate Tom Marriott also acknowledged Griffith “misses out”.
“But we have to look further than what we’ve got in our electorate, otherwise we sacrifice the whole wellbeing of the country,” Mr Marriott said.
“I think it’s a pity there are so many candidates for little special interest parties that are not going to go anywhere.”
Despite being an open Liberal supporter, Mr Marriott said he was disappointed in the Coalition’s lack of support for water policy.
“I’m terribly disappointed with the Coalition – with respect to water, it hasn’t done anything so far.”
NSW Farmers Griffith branch president Helen Dalton was also disappointed in the lack of attention paid to local needs and said the big political heads had failed to address “the F-word” – farmers.
With farmers constituting a significant proportion of the local electorate – and contributing 18 per cent of GDP – Mrs Dalton said the campaign needed to focus more heavily on important issues.
“We’ve got Kevin Rudd talking about gay marriage when what we really need is to get this country’s productivity up,” Mrs Dalton said.
“They’re fluffing about with issues that are important to some people but aren’t going to get this country on track and create jobs.
“The attitude of people in the cities has got to change.”
Mrs Dalton said beyond the local campaign, federal politicians needed to address water buybacks, food labelling and better deals for primary exporters.
“A lot could be done that wouldn’t cost them a lot,” she said.
“Most organisations are shaking their heads – agriculture is a good word but farmers, we are the forgotten lot in all of this.”
What our candidates should be talking about:
* Freight terminal funding
* A fairer basin plan
* Headspace for Griffith
* Road funding
* Incentives for regional aviation
* University campus for Griffith
* Anti-dumping laws
* The supermarket duopoly
* Faster roll-out of the NBN