Thursday, October 21, 2010

O'Farrell, the Herald and new states

While I was in Newcastle last weekend, I heard about Liberal leader O'Farrell's response to a question on the Tillegra dam. His suggestion that the dam should be cancelled and the money transferred to a Hunter infrastructure fund shows that he had not been properly briefed; there is no money to be transferred since the dam is to be paid for by Hunter rate payers. His answer to a follow up question made the position worse.

All this led the Newcastle Herald to come out with an editorial complaining about the Hunter's treatment. The editorial made some fair points. Despite this, it's hard to see just how the situation might be properly turned around in the absence of a New England state. However, that's a longer term solution.

In the short term, the very revival of new state agitation could help because it will force people like Mr O'Farrell to focus on Northern issues. The editorial did not mention this. Despite the comments over time of some Herald commentators, I think that the paper itself has still to get its mind around the way in which it might use the new state cause to further the interests of the market it serves.

At the most recent Newcastle new state meeting, a key issue was ways that we might use the next NSW elections to get the question of another referendum onto the political agenda. We have to get the politicians from all parties and groups to focus on Northern needs, not just their electorates on one side, state power on the other. New ways of thinking are required,

The advantage of campaigning on the need for another referendum is that it is a simple issue that then has flow-on effects. Those opposed to self-government have to justify their stand on the benefits to be offered by the existing system, while those of us who want self-government have a simple central immediate goal to work towards.    

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