It’s Monday night and the predictable lineup of politicians, artistes and thought leaders are on ABC TV’s Q&A. Host, Tony Jones, is looking especially delighted in anticipation of a robust debate in the wake of the announcement of a September federal election by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
And it takes about ten seconds before the inevitable arises – the question from a Western Sydney voter that focuses on how the government’s policies will go down with other voters in Western Sydney and why the government is not popular there. It is then re-phrased by Tony Jones, as follows:
“What is it about the Labor Party and its policies that you feel is so suddenly unattractive (as she put it) to Western Sydney communities? Where do you believe you have lost touch with us?” The questions about Western Sydney dominated the discussion for the following ten minutes, before ‘broadening’ to a discussion on the NSW Labor Party, for another seven minutes, before finally moving onto a national issue – a question on why the coalition is reluctant to release costings of its policies. It is worth remembering that Q&A is a program of the taxpayer-funded national broadcaster, the ABC.
It’s like a bad dream. Just when you think it’s all over, here comes the monster/boogey man again. And again. And again. So with apologies from the start to all the worthy citizens of Western Sydney, young, old and in-between, but it really must be stated once and for all – the rest of Australia really couldn’t give a flying toss about how you are going to vote, your traffic problems or ‘how tough’ you are doing it.
WE ARE DOING IT TOUGH AS WELL!!!
Especially those living on the pittance called the Age Pension!
It’s going to be a horribly long seven months if the 95 per cent of Australians NOT residing in Western Sydney have to view the election debate through the filter of Western Sydney problems. Sure, there are issues affecting all Australians which are also being experienced in Western Sydney. So a discussion on rising household costs and poor transport infrastructure are important and necessary.
But if we use Bankstown and Parramatta as a prism for election policy discussion, we are in deep trouble. Sadly, because most of our public and private media is headquartered in the Emerald City, our morning papers and nightly news bulletins are full of Sydney-centric news. In times past, news organisations would have reporters in all capital cities, regional centres, and many country towns. We would hear more about concerns in the Murray River Basin (water rights), Katherine (indigenous health issues) Perth (managing the rights of local ratepayers with a Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) work force) and Grafton (yet another flood – which level of government should do what to prevent ongoing hardship from these natural disasters?).
And then there are the ‘big ticket’ items – such as funding superannuation, climate change, education and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – all of which deserve serious consideration and debate. So let’s encourage our media to move their collective sights from the hullabaloo in Western Sydney and report on the national issues of concern to all and sundry across this sunburnt land, from the far, far west to the capital in Canberra.
What do you think? Is there too much media focus on the voters and their particular issues in Western Sydney? Or is this a fair thing given the swinging seats there?