On the back of bushfires and in the midst of a global health pandemic, with hundreds of thousands of people forced into unemployment, the NSW Liberals and Nationals have spectacularly spent this week focused on themselves.
In a bizarre but collective decision, the governing National Party decided to resign from their responsibilities, but keep their jobs and salaries and perks of office.
It showed not only how self-interested this group has become, but how deeply ignorant they are of what 'government' is, how it works, and the obligations they carry as ministers of the Crown.
This isn't new. For years, the National Party has pushed anti-science rhetoric that weakens and divides communities, damages the environment, does little to create new jobs and undermines people's faith in government.
Their hysterical style of politics now seems devoted to the absurd proposition that only large, corporate agribusiness and multimillionaire owners of land and water matter; and the interests of school teachers, nurses, tradies and the unemployed do not.
The National Party's version of 'looking out for the bush' includes decimating TAFE, hospitals without doctors, overcrowded schools, and some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, particularly among our youth. Not to mention overseeing the worst land clearing rates in the developed world.
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If you ever mention these facts to a National Party MP, just watch their faces go red and explode. Angry is their answer to everything. But the self-inflicted crisis this week proves once and for all: the National Party believe they are entitled to powerful elected positions without feeling the need to actually do the job. That won't come as a surprise to many communities in regional NSW. Bewildering, though, is how simply this could have been avoided if we had a government committed to telling the truth.
It took an impending constitutional crisis for the Liberals to finally admit that the National Party's ridiculous attacks on environmental policies are "a pack of mistruths". In John Barilaro, the Liberals created a monster they could no longer contain.
All of a sudden, sensing their own demise, Liberal MPs were more than happy to reveal the truth: the National Party is filled with environmental vandals. The sad reality is this - the Liberals may have won this battle, but when it comes to the environment, the Nationals always win the war. The 2023 election can't come soon enough.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington is the NSW Labor environment spokesperson
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