LETTER: On balance, it’s Mildura first

If we are going to get a decent deal out of the government of the day, we need the right sort of leader. We need a leader who has the guts and wherewithal to put our electorate first, especially if they hold the balance of power. 

In the past 20 years, Mildura has held the balance of power twice. Once in 1999-2000, with Russell Savage, and then from 2010-14 with Peter Crisp – and both times the opportunities were wasted. 

In 1999, Mr Savage said he would use his power for the whole state, not just Mildura. Last Saturday, Mr Crisp confirmed it was the same thinking that prevented him crossing the floor when it would have made a real difference – espec­ially to our students, who were ­copping the worst cuts to rural education in 25 years. 

That’s what sets me apart from Savage and Crisp; if I was elected on November 24, I would be a par­ochial advocate for our electorate.

I understand we are citizens of Victoria and everyone matters, but the facts are that for all Savage and Crisp’s polite deference to the whole state, Mildura remains the only electorate with a privatised public hospital and the only major regional centre without a passenger train. 

While regions like Morwell get $85 million to build state-of-the-art sporting complexes, our leaders squabble over who threw us the biggest crumbs. Last weekend, Luke O’Sullivan rightly pointed out that The Nationals’ $10 million promise to the Mildura South Sporting Precinct was more than Labor’s $3 million commitment, but it’s still chicken feed when you compare it to what’s being splashed around in marginal electorates. 

The spat between Cr Glenn Milne and independent candidate Steve Timmis is another symptom of our safe-seat addiction, where the chronic scarcity of resources creates unhelpful tensions between people and projects. 

Every politician needs a game plan for the balance of power ­because the consequences for the community can be immense. If Mr Crisp held the balance of power again, we know what he would do with it. My game plan would be ­different and it’s very simple: ­Mildura first.

When luck goes our way, we are entitled to take advantage of it.

 Ali Cupper, 

Independent candidate for Mildura

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