So, the budget has been handed down, the election has been called for July 2 and all the party leaders have made their initial pitch. The problem for us in Murray: none of them seem at all interested in our electorate.
The Liberal's budget has very little in it for our communities. Small businesses will get a maximum of $10,000 from the cut to business tax - a help for those with a turnover of $2 million, but not enough to hire another full time worker.
An extra $6 per week in the pockets of those earning over $80k is a token gesture, and will only benefit 6% of residents in our electorate. The effective tax cut of at least $3,600 given to those in the top tax bracket will benefit us less.
Barnaby Joyce said a few weeks ago that the Nationals' seats are some of the poorest in the country, yet he has said nothing about the fact that the 'goodies' in the budget are aimed at upper-middle income earners in the capital cities.
If 'trickle down economics' worked, we'd all be doing fine, but we're struggling. All it seems to do is increase government debt. There's a reason why, when Labor wanted to stimulate the economy at the start of the GFC, they sent money to lower income earners; because we'd spend it. We'd keep local shops open, we wouldn't put the extra cash in the bank and forget about it.
That money could have been spent on lowering the deficit. It could have been spent on raising the pension and/or Newstart. It could have been spent on supporting our dairy farmers who have just been hit over the head by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra, but no. It will be spent on tax cuts.
The Liberals have preselected a former staffer to Ted Baillieu, whose father has a pretty good CV, but I'm concerned that his connections to the IPA mean he'll be all about the ideology and not about the people - hardly a fitting successor to Sharman Stone at all.
From the Nationals we have Damien Drum, based in Bendigo and without much to show from his time in the Victorian Parliament. It seems that Labor won't even field a candidate, say what you like, at least the Greens have bothered to do that!
The real choice in Murray is between the Independents and minor parties. Whilst nominations won't be finalised until next month, at this point we have Robert Danieli of the Australian Country Party, Independent Nigel Hicks and myself.
Both Danieli and Hicks have both stood for state or federal parliament before and - whilst it's early days in the campaign - don't seem to have anything productive to say. Their focus is on old style protectionism, rather than innovative ideas for the future.
I want to work with the people of Murray to fix our problems, support our vulnerable and build stronger communities within our electorate. I plan to take our ideas to Canberra, get advice from the experts and to put them into action - be they legislative or simply borne out of our people working together.
I see illicit drugs, jobs, educational outcomes and water as being the immediate issues across our electorate. The Federation, Marriage Equality, equitable taxation reform and removing the discriminatory provisions in our Constitution are major issues for our nation, whilst Family Violence, sustainable community development and our treatment of refugees are concerns close to my heart. All of these are discussed on my policies page and on this blog.
I ask all of you to please think carefully about who is best to represent one of the most diverse electorates in the country - people whose roots in our region stretch back millennia, those who have been farming here for generations, those who were born and raised here and those who have lived here for a short time. At the very least, lets #MakeMurrayMarginal and stop the Coalition taking us for granted.