Up here in National party heartland, I am still lamenting the demise of my pet peeved newspaper. However, things seem to be looking up with the arrival of the Port Macquarie News yesterday. Its front page headline, in big black letters, screamed Oakeshott in their sites. The sub heading stated that the NSW Nationals Conference had a clear message for Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott: “You’re next.”
John and I are both intrigued by having someone in your sites. Was this a geographical double entendre? Was Rob Oakeshott lurking with intent on some hallowed piece of National Party ground? Or was it simply that neither the National Party or the Port News sub-editors can spell? Subsequent Google searches have failed to reveal an answer to this conundrum. But intrigued, I decided to look at the National Party’s website to see what answers lurked within the reported conference.
The first thing I want to note is that the National Party is right up to date with its use of its website and the reporting of its conference (this must be read with sarcastic tone in voice). On accessing their website, I tried desperately to find out what had happened at the NSW National Party conference, held at Port Macquarie over the weekend. By following links about the conference, I finally ended up on their calendar. Thursday Oct 6, Friday Oct 7 and Saturday Oct 8 all began with:
2011 Annual General Conference
We are all looking forward to the 2011 Annual General Conference in Port Macquarie this October.
Trouble is, each of these days had exactly the same message beneath the above welcome. It is tempting to assume from this that National Party members are like the goldfish in a notable community Bank ad, and are incapable of remembering what they are doing day to day and need to be reminded with certainty that they are at a conference, with the same message every day. As diverting as this calendar was with its identical entries for three different days, I wanted to find something of substance from this conference. Where were the motions? The content of the speeches? The revelation of the sacred sites the Federal member had stumbled onto? Anything that was vaguely newsworthy?
Wherever the conference reports might have been, they certainly weren’t here. In desperation I tried all sorts of word combinations on Google to find them. The Port News had two articles, and the ABC Radio, one. The ABC reported that Labor wasn’t too fussed about the Nationals motions seeking to curb wind farms and limit National Parks. The Port News reported that the conference debated 70 motions from the floor.
Seventy motions????? Well, where are they and what are they? I have only identified two from the ABC. I guess siting Rob Oakeshott might be a third. National Party, what are you hiding?
In the meantime, the Port News also reported that the NSW Nationals' leader Andrew Stoner aka Mr 72% and our current State member is considering a move to Federal politics. The Port News seems to think he fancies being Deputy Prime Minister. Perhaps the seat of Oxley, with its complex problems of poverty, aging and indigenous issues is now too small an arena – or its problems too intractable. Not that it really matters. In this electorate, a shop front mannequin could be elected as long as the sign around its neck declared it to be a National Party Member.
Mr 72% continues in my bad books. He has not answered the request from the Wauchope Ministers’ Association for a meeting, though his Federal counterpart has and we have a time, date and place to meet with Rob Oakeshott. And despite my threatening Mr Stoner with a set of macramé steak knives should he continue to only address my husband when we have both written to him, the last letter (if you can call a photocopied piece of press release propaganda a letter) did just that. Business as usual continues in the party who appear to have a particular propensity to ignore the existence of literate married women.
It is time perhaps to admit defeat, and acknowledge that women like myself are just never going to be lucky enough to find ourselves in the National Party’s sites, web or otherwise.