OPINION: Can pollies turn rust into trust?
THE US and many other countries have their rust belt - regions where industry produced goods that rust - steel, cars, cans and the like. We don't. We have rust spots instead. Think Geelong, Wollongong, Newcastle, Whyalla and multiple smaller towns and cities on the coast and inland. Some are towns with mines or that built export terminals or similar boom then bust jobs.
In the past it was easy to keep the rust spot people employed, happy-ish and fulfilling their civic duty of voting for the incumbent. Chuck in millions in subsidies and all will be well.
Unfortunately big overseas companies pocketed subsidies, cut jobs and are now cutting out the last bits and running.
All good things come to an end and the incumbent party in each rusty electorate has to do something a little different. Such as think. Or listen to the people. Or, hardest of all, change.
Yes, change is upon us. Your friendly local politician is about to be just that. Friendly and local. No longer will she or he be disconnected, lazy, isolated and unavailable.
And as they say in China where our jobs are now, "Be careful what you ask for, you just might might get it".
So it will be our civic duty from now on to put up with MPs. Just imagine answering the phone on Monday to hear "Hi, it's Freda Bloggs, your friendly local member. Got anything I can open, any ribbons I can cut, any certificates I can hand out?"
Or worse, they just turn up, unannounced with a gaggle of media experts to twist things to look good. No longer is the family barbecue safe. The problem used to be food poisoning because of dad's non-belief in hygiene. Or Uncle Albert would get a skinful and try to fondle the wives of his nephews.
Now it's the smell of burning meat that draws politicians like flies. Or does it draw flies like politicians? Never mind, they're as popular as each other for similar reasons. Maybe some PollieGard is the go. A quick spray that keeps them away.
I tried scattering empty beer bottles across the lawn. It works on dogs. But it has no effect on my local member. Unseen for years, he finally found the keys to the car, ventured beyond his three usual haunts and has been seen in action. Well, in motion - the car's on cruise control and he's on autopilot.
He came to my family barbie uninvited - with some beer company's insipid attempt at an apology for gay marriage. Or for opposition to gay marriage. Or for a gay marriage poll. Or for getting caught with their pants down. Figuratively, of course.
But we can see the change. Politicians and parties are doing things. Worthwhile things. It's good to know that at least one Coalition member will be comfortably elected as a result of buying a huge number of jobs building submarines. And the bill only came to billions of dollars. Great value, really.
And the politicians aren't neglecting their real job. The Libs are ripping into Bill Shorten. Voters apparently think Shorten stinks more than Malcolm Turnbull.
But that plan could backfire. Just imagine the panic if Labor throws away its agreement to not roll the leader unless it's just after an election. Or Bill takes one for the party and resigns.
Oops. The Coalition might just have created a real Opposition. One with a credible leader. An electable leader.
What was that Chinese saying again?
Pollie Tickled is a satirical column.