Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed has called on the National Party to get back to its grassroots representation of country people, for which it’s known.
This call came on the back of a heated debate in Parliament overnight, calling for a joint sitting to swear-in the newly-nominated member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan.
“The capital and goodwill of the parties in this place are being continually eroded by this sort of debate and discussion. We are not getting on with the business of this place, and we are not representing the people of Victoria by engaging in all this argument.” Ms Sheed said.
“It will come as no surprise to me, to see Parliament populated by many more Independents after the next State election,” she said.
“Members have spoken about the fact that the failure to swear in the new National Party member to the other place will result in Northern Victoria Region in the Legislative Council being without representation.
“Well, it should be remembered that Northern Victoria Region has been without representation in the other place since May 27, 2016 and no attempt was made to fill that vacancy in June when it could have happened,” Ms Sheed said.
Ms Sheed said she feared the National Party, has lost touch with the region it represents.
“The single most broad-based issue that affects the people of northern Victoria is the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin plan on our Murray River-dependent northern communities.
So when do we hear debate and discussion about the Murray-Darling Basin plan in this place from those representatives? We never do. The only time I hear in this place about the Murray-Darling Basin and the social and economic impacts of it is when I ask the Minister for Water questions about it,” she said.
Ms Sheed said she won the seat of Shepparton District from the National Party almost two years ago, because the Party was absent when it came to the issues facing the electorate.
“Nobody understood what the issues were.
“The issues in our electorate included health; we needed a new hospital. Other issues were that we needed better rail services and the fact that we have some of the poorest educational outcomes across the whole of the state of Victoria.
Who is talking about that in this place (the Legislative Assembly)? Well, there is a deafening silence on so many of those things,” Ms Sheed said.
“I have sat here for nearly two years, and I find it outrageous that we have a National Party who sits in this place, who should be representing us and who, quite frankly, I would be happy to sit with if they did the job they were meant to be doing. I am not prepared to sit here and be silent any longer.
“You are all people who have been elected by your communities, you are capable of being good representatives and indeed you all have the skills to do it, but instead you sit in opposition with a city-centric party.
We have city-centric parties on both sides of this place, and the time has come for the Nationals to actually stand up and have a think about sitting on the crossbenches and about having the integrity and strength that it takes to actually represent the people and the electorates that you come from. The time has come for that.”
Ms Sheed has defended her decision to vote against the joint sitting overnight, calling for the Special Minister for the State to also be reinstated.
“When it comes down to this particular debate, if we are depriving representation of a whole group of people in Northern Victoria Region of a representative for a period of time, I would say it is probably about the same length of time that the people of South Eastern Metropolitan Region have been deprived of their representative.
The penalty and the time has been done by Gavin Jennings, as far as I am concerned, and it is time for everyone just to get back on the job and start governing,” Ms Sheed said.
Sueanne McCumstie 0428 743 880│firstname.lastname@example.org