Dear Prime Minister,
It is gratifying to have a Prime Minister who doesn’t make us feel embarrassed. It is heartening to hear you speak with optimisim and that you encourage us to be positive and to grasp and embrace the future.
But as you stride confidently forward with gracious smiles and articulate speeches, may we make a small suggestion?
Don’t Forget The Country!
Rural and regional Australia needs positive, creative, heartfelt practical support.
We hear your plans for the cities, for big business, for international co-operation, for innovation and economic reform.
But please, don’t forget the country.
Outside those cities where new plans and projections to move them into the next century are being exercised by bright and clever brains, please think of your country cousins. Not the big landholders, international pastoralists, the mining companies plundering sacred lands, the foreign owned investments reaping the riches of our soil and waters, but the average Aussie Joe, from wherever he or she may come.
In towns and villages, in isolated rural communities, on farms and in orchards, in deserted manufacturing plants, on properties which look productive but are in debt and drought, too many people are struggling.
Not everyone is asking for a hand out or to be bailed out, or want to move away as their lifestyle and their work is no longer viable.
These are people who actually like the bush, the small towns, the isolation, the simple lifestyle, the challenges of life outside a city. If more city and suburban families and businesses came to the country, they too would discover the benefits of a small community, the sense of peace and connection to a beautiful and serene landscape.
Country people feel they too contribute to our (somewhat diminished) once great nation. That does not mean they like to go without, to feel marginalised and overlooked as largesse is showered upon others apparently considered more worthy and who bring more votes.
But away from the media gaze and under the radar of even effective politicians, you might not have noticed the decline of businesses, agriculture and townships, and that doing it tough is more the norm, that kids can’t find jobs, and services are slow to eventuate while costs rise. For the suicide of every despairing farmer, there are families going without in proud silence.
There are those who care for others, and there are thinly spread support systems, but country people don’t want handouts, they want the opportunity to prove how productive, resilient and creative they can be, and have been.
We all sense change is in the air. There is a small sense of hope that now things may change for the better – but not at the cost of others.
We all want to do our bit to be proud to be Australian. To help ourselves and our grandchildren.
Country people have vision and ideas and energy too. Perhaps you’d like to come and listen and see for yourself. Perhaps you could visit our neighbours in Gloucester and out on the Liverpool Plains and see what we are losing under an ill conceived Chinese coal mine and CSG exploration.
The Manning Valley has a great community spirit. People power has helped us fight corporate greed and wasteful unnecessary infrastructure, while our Councils battle to repair roads and provide jobs and a future here for our children.
Below is the letter sent to you by a member of our community. We hope you read it and respond.
And you are welcome for a cup of green tea at any time.
Warm wishes from The Manning Community News.