By Growcom Acting CEO Richard Shannon
There is an old adage that suggests elections are more often lost than they’re won.
Another idea with some currency is that the voting public like swapping their governments every so often, even regardless of how the incumbent has performed. This idea was perhaps best and most explicitly harnessed by the “It’s Time” campaign run by Gough Whitlam back in 1972.
The question of whether there’s a climate of change in the bush this election is one we’re only likely to answer afterwards.
But in terms of a longer trend, the best analysis comes in the 2018 book Rusted Off by author Gabrielle Chan, who puts forward the view rural and regional Australia increasingly feel taken for granted by the conservatives and ignored by Labor.
Supporting this view is the fact that more electors are opting to vote for neither. Less of us are rusted onto one of the major parties. About a third of the population now votes for a minor party. We should expect to see this trend continue on Saturday.
So voters have got a couple of questions. Whether to change government with their vote in the lower house, and then whether there’s a minor party they’d prefer to hold the balance of power in the Senate.
Casting an informed vote is hard. Many voters will reduce the complexity of the task by simply opting for the party or candidate that best addresses just one or two areas of greatest interest and concern.
Producers and growers will give a lot of weight to policies and commitments concerning agriculture, but besides belonging to an industry we are also members of the public with many of the same interests and concerns as folk in towns and cities.
One of the best insights into the minds of rural voters came through the survey of Queensland Country Life readers just like you, and readers of other rural mastheads owned by Australian Community Media run in April.
In terms of their top policy priorities, almost half of all respondents ranked regional infrastructure (47.2 per cent) in their top three, closely followed by climate change (46pc), health and education (42.3pc), and then cost of living (41.3pc).
With another unseasonal rainfall event this past week causing widespread pain across key growing regions, it could well be the weather and climate change policy front of mind for many voters as they head to the polls.