Refreshing change

The decision made by four first-term State Government backbenchers last week to oppose their party’s position and stand up for their communities is a refreshing change in big party politics.
Crossing the floor was once more common in Australian politics, but has become increasingly rare.
In the Labor Party, opposing the party’s position during a division is all but a death sentence, with rogue MPs sometimes expelled for breaking ranks.
The Liberal Party, on the other hand, allows its members to vote against party lines – but as wholesome as this sounds it can have serious ramifications on their political careers.
The actions of Dan Cregan, Fraser Ellis, Nick McBride and Steve Murray do not represent major disunity within the party, but rather highlight a conviction to stick to promises made to their rural communities.
It may not have an impact on the final outcome of the legislation review, but it will allow more discussion about an issue that has the potential to affect the livelihood of thousands of people and the economic future of the State.
Their willingness, after only a few months in the job, to potentially compromise their political careers in order to advocate for their communities is highly commendable and shows they are willing to do what they were elected to do – represent their constituents in Parliament.
At a Federal level, politics is experiencing a widening of the crossbench, with thousands of voters abandoning the major parties in favor of independents who are not tied to a party line.
This direct representation model is gathering momentum.
While there are still many who vote for the ideals of a particular party, no party’s policy can completely appeal to every sector of its voter base – such as this latest skirmish which has vastly different perspectives in regional and metropolitan communities.
This highlights the appeal to voters of an MP who is prepared to devote themselves to the interests of their electorate.
Perhaps this shift will place increasing pressure on major parties to allow their MPs to put their constituents ahead of party lines and crossing the floor may become commonplace again.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.