For decades the National Party has relied upon the image that it is of and for country people to secure support. This perception has worked well for the Nationals with many country areas of Australia reliable voting for them at every election have a peek at this site.
One such electorate was the regional NSW seat of Orange, which has been held by the Nationals since 1947 but now looks as though it could fall to the Shooters, Farmers and Fishers after the by-election at the weekend.
The disastrous result in Orange prompted the National’s leader Troy Grant and his deputy Adrian Piccoli to stand down to be replaced by John Barilaro and Niall Blair to allow the party to heal from a clean slate. The problem is simply shuffling the furniture isn’t going to save the Nationals from themselves.
The reality is that the Nationals are no longer the party for country people but rather the party for themselves and the puppets of the Liberals. In NSW, under Troy Grant the Nationals blindly followed Mike Baird like lemmings on issues such as council amalgamations and the greyhound racing ban. Instead of standing up for their constituents, the majority of the Nationals blindly went along with policies which were toxic in the electorate.
If the Nationals were no longer representing regional interests were they really the party for those in the bush? This is their dilemma.
The Nationals have become irrelevant over the past decade or so. Strong independents have ousted them from safe seats as the electorate becomes tired of Nationals being nothing more than Liberal puppets. In 2015, the NSW seat of Ballina which along with its predecessor Byron had been held by the Nationals since 1927 was won by the Greens.
In Queensland in 1998, five Nationals seats fell to One Nation.
With an increasingly volatile electorate and a tendency to put the Coalition before the views of their country constituents the Nationals risk becoming irrelevant and losing even more support. No longer can they rely on being the country party by default, they need to start representing regional Australians.
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