Home Roland Rocchiccioli NOT until I came to live in Ballarat did I recognise the...

NOT until I came to live in Ballarat did I recognise the depth of the Federal and State governments partiality for matters urban.


The lack of consultation – real, not perceived –for those decisions which affect the daily lives of those living in regional areas, is deeply galling. The calamitous changes to the Ballarat Public Transport system, and the proposed, ill-conceived development of the Ballarat Railway precinct, are two major examples. It is incomprehensible, that those responsible for the changes to the transport system made certain a bus stop was moved to be in close proximity of the Lake Wendouree caravan park, which has been closed for 20-years! It makes you wonder if those designing the changes actually came to Ballarat and drove the proposed routes. The litany of thoughtlessness, and lack of vision, surrounding the Ballarat Railway station development is overwhelming, and must be halted.

Peter Beattie, a former Labor Premier of Queensland, has written a most excellent former, insiders opinion piece, for the on-line news website, The New Daily – a site which does not have a pay-wall, and is delivered free to your computer, or wherever, twice daily. Mr. Beattie, who bore the full impact of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation at the 1998 state election in Queensland, reflects on the demise and rise of Hanson, and questions whether, or not, she is any different from other self-serving politicians, and political parties, who are more concerned about staying in power than they are about good governance. The obsession with a photo opportunity, or a sound garb for television, takes precedence over all else.

Mr. Beattie wrote for ‘The New Daily’: ‘All political parties are the same, it seems, except Pauline Hanson, and her party, pretend to be something different; she appeals to voters on the platform of being the anti-politician who speaks her mind. That claim is rapidly proving to be political fraud. Until recent questionable unethical behaviour, I believed that the revived Pauline Hanson One Nation party would determine who would win the next Queensland election due later this year. Indeed, I thought that over the next two federal elections they could end up holding the balance of power in the Senate. I don’t believe that any more. They are slowly but surely undermining themselves from within like a Greek tragedy.

But why is the One Nation party polling at 17 per cent primary vote in Queensland? It is almost as high as the 23 per cent primary vote it received at the 1998 Queensland election when my opposition team just stumbled over the line into government and One Nation won 11 state seats. Six of them from Labor and five from the Liberal/National party. It can be summed up in one word: “disillusionment”. A disillusionment with the policy failures of the major political parties and their senseless political point scoring which is so much a part of modern Australian politics.

In addition, regional communities are suffering from job losses and insecurities post the mining boom and are looking for a new political voice. Someone who would represent their concerns and talk about their problems and fears and not play mindless blame games.

They initially found it in Ms Hanson with her attacks on both major parties, her protectionist views and her attacks on refugees, migrants and Muslims who she scapegoated for everything from terrorist attacks to threatening our way of life. Her position strengthened on the back of regional Australians feeling abandoned by the city “elites” and their staggering new wealth accumulation in their houses in Sydney and Melbourne. These people see Australia as two distinct zones: the cities versus the regions, with the latter increasingly missing out. No wonder they are understandably fertile ground for Ms Hanson.

Both major parties have struggled to deal with Ms Hanson, with Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten finding it difficult to win back these disillusioned voters. This partly explains why the primary vote for both major parties is in the 30s.

The Coalition government has largely benefited from the One Nation votes in the Senate but that has not eroded Ms Hanson’s support. It is One Nation’s questionable and unethical behaviour that is now doing that. It will surprise many in Sydney and Melbourne to discover that Ms Hanson’s supporters are by and large not racist.

As I said earlier, they are ordinary Australians abandoned by the policies of the major political parties and struggling to survive in a world of job losses and fears about the future for their families. They are also honest and hate dishonest, gouging politicians who are just out for themselves and their party. That is why Ms Hanson and One Nation are now at the crossroads. A significant percentage of their supporters will hate the fact that One Nation even discussed making money out of the Queensland election, soliciting donations to a personal bank account and failing to properly disclose the use of an aircraft bearing One Nation signage but which supposedly had “nothing to do with the party”. She is proving to be just another politician, and One Nation just another political party.’

Perhaps, if there were a viable alternative in Victoria, and I do not believe Hanson is the solution, the two majors political powers, the Liberals and Labor, would treat the major regional centres with more consideration, and listen to the voices of those who live, and vote, in these important centres. Roland can be heard each MONDAY morning on 3BA at 10.30.Contact: rolandroc@bigpond.com