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Labor fails to ring voters' bells in Eden-Monaro

Graziers Howard and Anne Charles herd their sheep in for drenching on their property outside of Nimmitabel.

Graziers Howard and Anne Charles herd their sheep in for drenching on their property outside of Nimmitabel. Photo: Jay Cronan

Eden-Monaro Road Trip:

Graziers Howard and Anne Charles are craving a free trade agreement with China but not even Kevin Rudd's mandarin or farming roots can prompt them to vote for him.

Jane Cay the founder of online fashion store Birdsnest in her factory and store in Cooma. Click for more photos

Bellwether roadtrip

Bellwether roadtrip. The Canberra Times visits the electorate prior to the 2013 election. Photo: Jay Cronan

The pastures are a bit dry around their Nimmitabel homestead and the ground also appears parched of votes for Labor.

In the bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro the incumbent MP Mike Kelly faces a tough challenge getting farmers to vote for him because of a title he held two years ago.

"Mike Kelly was parliamentary secretary to Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig when they decided to ban live cattle exports to Indonesia," Mr Charles said.

"That decision really upset the Indonesians and it reverberated south."

Beef producers say a larger supply of cattle on the domestic market is still dampening prices.

"I sold 12-month-old calves recently for $560 a head - before I was getting $760," Mr Charles said.

Many farmers, while recognising the need for animals to be treated well, have thought it was a knee-jerk decision mostly made for political gain and with no thought given to the affect on Australian producers.

While farmers in the Eden-Monaro electorate tend to be mostly conservative voters, it is not true to say that at the end of each long, dirt driveway is a die-hard Liberal voter.

Labor scored about 40 per cent of the two-party preferred vote at the Nimmitabel polling booth in 2010, and other booths across the interior of the electorate recorded similar results in places such as Berridale and Jindabyne.

Mr and Mrs Charles, who have grazed their sheep and cattle in the district for decades, say much of their area has been turned into untouchable national parks by the federal government.

The couple said their paddocks had been overrun by kangaroos and weeds, caused partly by the parks and partly by restrictions on culling and the use of sprays.

Most of all, the Charles' said the Labor government lacked integrity, citing the controversy surrounding embattled MP Craig Thomson as an example.

They also said the Snowy Mountains hydro scheme started in 1949 was a paragon of immigration policy and were disappointed by the current policies of both major parties in regard to asylum seekers.

"The comparison of this story and of the boat people today should make us all feel ashamed,'' Mr Charles said.

Then there was another foreign policy issue that irked them.

For eight years Australia has been trying to strike a free trade agreement with China, six of which were with a Labor government heading negotiations, and they said action was long overdue.

Cooma farmer and swinging voter Michael Green has happily voted Labor in the past but said Dr Kelly had "knifed his commanding officer in the back" when he supported Mr Rudd's coup over Julia Gillard.

Because of this he said Dr Kelly should not be re-elected so he could go on to become defence minister for Labor. "He should have supported Gillard," Mr Green said. "He should have resigned."

Mr Rudd, who grew up on a Queensland dairy farm, has already said Dr Kelly would become defence minister if Labor won the election.

Mr Green said red and green tape was restricting the agricultural industry and country towns.

''The dam being built at Nimmitabel was originally going to cost $500,000 but now that has blown out to $4 million and two-thirds of that is red and green tape,'' he said.

The discovery of threatened species has slowed the project which was supposed to provide a secure water supply for a town that can experience severe water shortages.

7 comments

  • Farmers in Western Australia suffer similar red tape costs to their small businesses .The costs of live exporting a sheep,via air has quadrupled ! Gillard/ Rudd have added fees and charges to destroy the once profitable business.Sheep languish in the paddocks and farmers slowly go broke ! All Rudd cares about is zipping here and zipping there ! It's time for change .

    Commenter
    Frank WA
    Date and time
    August 26, 2013, 9:10AM
    • Wayne Truss said it correctly yesterday, the only way Rudd has seen the country is at 30 thousand feet flying to another country.

      Commenter
      Red Dog
      Location
      Cooma
      Date and time
      August 26, 2013, 11:08AM
      • MR AND MRS CHARLES SHOULD BE REMINDED THAT THE TAXPAYER SUPPORTS THE CATTLE TRADE TO THE TUNE OF SOME $50 MILLION A YEAR AND EVEN THEN IT COULD NOT SELF-REGULATE AND MANAGE ITS BUSINESS PROPERLY. ALSO THE INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT ALREADY HAD PLANS IN PLACE TO BECOME SELF-SUFFICIENT WHEN THE TEMPORARY SUSPENSION WAS PUT IN PLACE - MILLIONS OF AUSTRALIANS DEMANDED ACTION. IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT THE SNOWY MOUNTAINS SCHEME (LIKE THE NBN AND FOR THE SAME REASONS) WAS BITTERLY OPPOSED BY MENZIES AND THE CONSERVATIVES.. AS FOR THE USE OF SPRAYS I RATHER THINK THAT THE NSW GOVERNMENT HAS SOMETHING JTO DO WITH THAT AND A FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH CHINA IS STILL A LONG WAY OFF AND THAT IS NO FAULT OF ANY AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT.

        Commenter
        TERRY
        Date and time
        August 26, 2013, 12:01PM
        • Are you a Labor Party member?

          Commenter
          KevinC
          Date and time
          August 26, 2013, 8:26PM
      • Australian agriculture needs a new business model. Neither side of politics over many years has shown any initiative to this end. Most farmers are small businesses forced through Federal statutory arrangements to pay levies to huge ($100m plus) bureaucracies to undertake generic research - a minute amount of the levy - and generic marketing which is costly and largely ineffective. Compare the MLA 'eat more beef' campaigns with the Angus beef marketing initiative through McDonalds and Coles. Increasingly Australian agricultural marketing occurs through individual supply chains and research and marketing should be related to specific supply chains rather than on an industry basis. Small farmers have little or no say in the allocation of industry levies because voting in these organisations is undemocratic, votes being allocated on the basis of throughput - the big guys have all the say. This doesn't happen in other small businesses - don't treat farmers like idiots. They are quite capable of making their own decisions on how they allocate funds to research or marketing to suit the needs of their own marketing channel. Those that see value in the MLA's and AWI's of this world should be free to make their own contributions on the basis of their view of the performance of these bodies, but don't require everybody to do it - socialism gone mad. It was MLA that failed to do their job in Indonesia - it would never have happened if they had done their job properly over the years with our levies. I agree, get rid of the red tape and bureaucracy and foster innovation in business and marketing practices in agriculture though competition among the private sector information and service providers who can compete for our scarce dollars rather than waste them on big inefficient bureaucracies.

        Commenter
        Looking for Value
        Location
        Thailand
        Date and time
        August 26, 2013, 1:37PM
        • Mr and Mrs Charles might be interested to learn that the Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro, Peter Hendy was chief of staff to then-defence minister Peter Reith during the time of the "children overboard" affair. So any thought they have in supporting Mr Hendy might be tempered by that given their obvious sympathy for Refugees

          Commenter
          Roger
          Date and time
          August 26, 2013, 2:05PM
          • Remind me again - how many electors are there in Eden - Monaro? More than two? You're joking, surely.

            Commenter
            MJM
            Date and time
            August 26, 2013, 4:41PM
            Comments are now closed

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