Hartsuyker's Reelection was an Expensive Mistake for The Nationals

Hartsuyker's Reelection was an Expensive Mistake for The Nationals

The Coalition had no plan to give Luke Hartsuyker a portfolio in this parliament, but when he threatened to become an Independent MP, the Prime Minister caved and gave him the title ‘Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister’ in order to protect the Coalition's slender majority. 

Supporting Young People in Cowper, there's a long way to go.

Supporting Young People in Cowper, there's a long way to go.

Political work does take a long time to land, but we now have the $110 million local hospital extension at Port Macquarie, and I've received great feedback from many who have used it, and those that work there on a daily basis.  We also now have the two University projects - Charles Sturt and the University of NSW expansion in Port Macquarie - complete and operating.  Both are expecting to expand within the region at great pace.   There is no question that these decisions, and this work, from nearly a decade ago is now bearing great fruit.

But it is wrong if the community now rests on this prior work, and merely celebrates the opening of buildings with the misplaced thinking that all is complete.  It's not. 

Patting each other on the back and fancy ribbon-cuttings does not secure our future as a region. We have a long way to go in order toproperly support young people in our area.

Coffs Harbour, a city I have yet to represent but am very keen to partner with, has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country.  Port Macquarie, a city I know well,  has failed so far, to deliver basic transport links between its new University and its CBD.  And together, both Coffs and Port can do so much more in integrating transport networks throughout the entire region, bringing the Macleay and the Nambucca much closer together for so many more locals. 

If we want to keep young people engaged and involved in our Mid North Coast communities, then integration of services, and collaboration on events and opportunities, is the glaring unaddressed challenge we all face.

Some local Councils are working hard to combat these problems and have ideas on solutions. However, I don't know about the current batch of wall-to-wall National Party Federal and State MP's within the area's former 'safe seats'. If elected outside of the Nationals monopoly, whenever the next election occurs, I am very keen to see young people front and centre of the future growth strategy of our region.  Because by doing so, we all benefit. 

The work of getting more University engagement within our region was long and hard.  Over the coming month, we'll once again see the ribbon-cutters come to town, to cut the opening ribbon on the new University buildings, say nice things, and then go again.  The lingering question for those of us who remain is, what's next?  How do we maximise the opportunities from these new education facilities?  How do we make sure the student experience is the best in the country, and we become an attractive area for students from around the world to come and study?  

These are the questions that keep me engaged and wanting to do more, because if these questions are left unanswered, the whole point of a decade long campaign to get the facilities to our local region will be lost.  And then we're in trouble.

It is great that we have the buildings, and it is a case of 'so far so good' on University growth.  But without further hard work and planning, without further resources and investment from Federal and State Governments, the journey gets hard quickly.  And with the education strategy now central to future economic growth for our region, we all deserve better than some "build it and they will come", "cross the fingers and hope" community plan for young people.  Sadly, this looks like what we are getting from Governments at the moment. 

And this is why I invite all to listen to the attached piece of journalism.  Young people from the region talking with other young people, about the problems and challenges we face.  Please listen and share.

The Narrative of Chaos & Dysfunction

The Narrative of Chaos & Dysfunction

Cover ImageJulia Gillard, brought to you by Rob Oakeshott from The National's Don't Risk Rob Facebook page. According to their narrative, the rejection of Tony Abbott in 2010 (before he was rejected again by his own party in 2015) was a recipe for chaos & dysfunction. 

The local MP was successful in running on a platform where he claimed “stability” is owned by him and his party. As all can now see, less than 5 days after polling day, this is completely untrue.

He is now negotiating with independents and cross-benchers in a desperate scramble for power, showing the rhetoric of the previous week as empty.

By the very same logic of their own campaign, I could argue Luke Hartsuyker is now negotiating with the Greens, and Pauline Hanson. It was always stupid logic, and shows stability, chaos and dysfunction is in the eye of the beholder.  Politics is, and always will be, about talking with others, and working with others.

At one polling booth in Valla Beach on the weekend, I had one Nationals booth worker indicate “I loved you when you were in the Nationals, and I would love you again if you came back”.  Her logic was that she couldn’t love me now as an Independent, as I “got in bed” with that red-headed woman Julia Gillard, and she has a “horrible voice”.  It was a complimentary discussion, with a sting in the tail!

But now, by the same logic, the current MP is going to have to “get into bed” with a “red-headed woman”, whose voice is also her own.  He will have to do this to make this Parliament work in the national interest. 

By working with Pauline Hanson, it will not make Luke Hartsuyker a member of the Hanson Party, just as I have never been anything other than an Independent MP with a focus on the community.

The Nationals rhetoric on their “Don’t Risk Rob” posters on polling day is already proven false by their own actions now.

And rather than discourage Luke Hartsuyker from working with natural foes, I actually encourage him to do so.  Negotiating is where the national interest lies right now, and also where the community benefit is found.

I encourage Luke Hartsuyker and the Nationals to reflect on this, as there is $1.2 billion in opportunities for our community, and over $9 billion of opportunities for regional Australia in this Parliament right now.  It can all be done while maintaining a AAA credit rating for the coming three budgets, and achieving record private investment into Australia.

I look forward to Mr Hartsuyker beating these above figures, so progress and reform can be achieved for all of us.

Related Video: 03:19, "Chaos and dysfunction are defined by a Double Dissolution Election"

The Politics of Money

The Politics of Money

In this election campaign, I was attacked by the National Party for 'being in it for the money'.  They based this attack on the grounds that I am not a rich man, that I am studying Medicine and Surgery, an argument my contract work for the United Nations was not “real work”, and that a late entry into the campaign meant I 'wasn’t trying'.

To clarify issues of money - I have never cried poor to anyone, and I never will.  It was, in my view, a disgusting implication by the National Party to use personal finances as their key attack point.  The Nationals were strongly aided by The Australian newspaper in Week 2 of the campaign, when they wrote an extensive article suggesting I felt I was struggling on $70,000 per year.  This journalist knows my constant message during the interview was the complete opposite. Even today, at all times, I accept there are people better and worse off, and my family situation reflects nothing more nor less than normal life on the Mid-North Coast of NSW.

However, what this article played into was the major attack point from the National Party in the final week, in their effort to justify their claim for office. It was clever politics, and obviously damaging to my campaign.

Regardless, what this attack has done is raise a legitimate issue about this $2.60 of public money being attached to each vote, of every candidate in Australia.  This is something that needs reform so this attack cannot be made on anyone else in the future.

In my case, now first preference votes have been nominally counted for the seat of Cowper, the approximate figure for first preference votes is 26%.  If $2.60 per vote is the actual electoral return, this equates to $67,600.  This is based on home maths, and I am happy for the AEC to correct this figure publicly if necessary.

Sidebar: Major Parties actually receive a loading on top of the usual 'dollars per vote' ($2.68) that every candidate receives. As outlined in this video. I wonder who's responsible for passing those laws...

Last election, the National Party made over $4.1 million from this process.  It is unclear what they, or any other candidates, have gathered from this election.  They are welcome to reveal this figure.

As this has been such an attack point from the National Party throughout this campaign for Cowper, I accept the importance of transparency in clarifying my personal finances, over and above what any other candidate in Australia is being asked to do.

Today, I therefore release my campaign expenditure throughout the three week “low budget” campaign.  It is my understanding that under Australian electoral law I do not need to release this until February 2018, however, in the public interest, I do so today. 

In total, during the 2016 Federal Election campaign, I spent the following: 

 $5,000 on How to Vote cards

$3,500 on T-shirts

$5,700 on corflute posters

$24,000 on advertising (Television & Radio)

$1000 small expenses

$1100 on stickers

$3000 on events and bookings

$2000 on fuel

$2000 on social media advertising

$5000 on volunteer costs

Total: $52,300

As can be shown, I spent more than many in the community were led to believe by the National Party.  I would not have spent over $50,000 if I was not running to win.

It is correct that about $15,000 will be retained by our local campaign team as a consequence of how much was spent, compared to how much will come back as a return from the Electoral Commission.

Separately, we are still working our way through separate donors to the campaign.  Nearly 50 people made on-line donations throughout the campaign, with the most common figures being $25 or $50.  None of these donations are over the $13,000 threshold for public declarations as is currently the loose and flawed Australian Electoral law for public declarations, and it will take time to work through this list to confirm the legitimacy of each donation.  This is why it is not released in full today.

Importantly, the combination of the $15,000 public return and the community online donations will now be used in preparation for the next election, which will potentially occur sooner rather than later. 

I will be informing all campaign supporters to keep their T-Shirts, and placards, and stickers.  I will be asking campaign workers to be on stand-by for an election that could occur at any moment over the coming three years.  I confirm this is not, and never was, a three week campaign for office.  Instead, it is an on-going campaign for a better community. 

Rest assured, I will never attempt to explore, or smear, Mr Hartsuyker about his personal finances.  It doesn’t interest me, and shouldn’t be what politics is about.

But I will strongly question his, and the National Party's, public financing.  I now invite him, and all candidates, to be as equally transparent as I have been, and release a figure of full campaign expenditure for the seat of Cowper. 

Until he does, we can only surmise the following amounts was spent by the National Party during the 2016 Federal Election campaign;

$30,000- Purchase of Fairfax Media masthead (Port News) on final day prior to election, with unauthorised photos throughout the community.

$150,000 - 4 mail-outs to every household throughout the campaign, including a closed envelope, unauthorised, campaign letter from the Prime Ministers office.

$300,000 – print, radio and TV advertising, involving both State and Federal MP's, as well as community members unaware they were being used.

$250.00 for the purchase of domain names www.robertoakeshott.com.au, and www.robertoakeshott.net.au

$50,000 – internal, unreleased, phone polling conducted by the National Party office in Week 2 of the campaign.

$50,000 – automated phone-calls to every household for four nights, using the voice of Prime Minister Turnbull.

$5,000 How to Vote Cards

$5,000 on Social Media Advertising

$200,000 on Corflutes, including blanket “Don’t Risk Rob” election day material

$30,000 FIFO accommodation and meals for Young Nationals and others

$3,500 on T-Shirts

In addition, we can surmise the following: 

State MP’s flyers to households ($100,000) public money, visit from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott ($5,000) public money, and visit from Premier Mike Baird ($10,000) public money.

Excluding the State costs, the estimated costs of the Luke Hartsuyker for Cowper campaign over the past eight weeks is well over $750,000, or three-quarters of a million dollars.

Mr Hartsuyker will receive 46% of the primary vote at $2.60, which equates to $119,600, plus major party loadings.  I understand there is also “public education” funding that will also be received by each political party, but this figure is not clear at this stage. 

What is now unclear is what private donations were received to pay for the rest of the campaign that we all saw hit our letterboxes, radios and televisions last week.  Until clarified, it is alleged major corporate donations in mining, gambling, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and private health, are the major sources of money to contribute to this obscene level of spending.

The further public interest question is what the National Party gave up in public policy to receive donations of this size, allowing expenditure of this level.

Now is the opportunity for this to be clarified while the campaign is fresh in everyone’s mind.  Not, as the political party’s would prefer, in February 2018 when all is forgotten.

I invite and welcome further discussion on this issue.

Election Liveblog

Election Liveblog

On July 2, Cowper went to the polls. It was a long day full of action and we've done our best to collate what happened on the blog below that was updated throughout the day. 

Mitch has shared why he voted Oakeshott at the Westport Polling Booth. 

The Nationals Party have started playing dirty, and their wallet is dusty with coal.

The Nationals Party have started playing dirty, and their wallet is dusty with coal.

Mysterious flyers have begun popping up in Sawtell...

...and the ads on television are nothing but negative... 

Because the Nationals have no positive plan for our area, and no achievements to call back on, the only tool they have left in their arsenal is to make personal attacks. And they're using money they receive from mining and gambling companies to do it.  

Here’s a run down on some of the things I achieved for my electorate, please feel free to copy and paste these into your own conversations online:

  • Over 3 years, I was able to secure $1.2 billion in funding for my electorate and $10bn of investment in regional Australia
  • I was able to fast-track the build of the new Pacific Highway between Port Macquarie and Kempsey
  • Port Macquarie Base Hospital received a new wing and emergency department at $110m
  • Kempsey hospital was completely rebuilt at $80m
  • Port Macquarie, Taree and Kempsey received $19m worth of Airport upgrades
  • The Manning region received a roads and bridges package
  • Bucketts Way, between Gloucester and Taree, was extensively repaired at $19m
  • I helped establish the Joint Health Education Facility (now called the Shared Health Research and Education Campus) with $20m of government funding which hosts medical and allied health students from the University of New South Wales, Newcastle University and the North Coast Institute of TAFE
  • I facilitated the establishment of a Charles Sturt University campus in Port Macquarie, which will grow from 1000 to 5000 students in the next 5 years
  • Wauchope, Bonny Hills and Crescent Head surf clubs were completely rebuilt, and others received upgrades
  • I secured funding for Old Bar Beach Sand Replenishment and an off-shore reef study
  • I secured funding for the extension of the Port Macquarie indoor stadium (near complete) and a second hockey field in Port Macquarie (to commence building next month)

I’ll leave it there for now. 

This election could have been a battle of ideas, a comparison of track records or a discussion for the benefit of the Mid North Coast. Instead we’ve received grubby attack ads and smear campaigns. That’s not what our region needs or wants. Don’t let the Nationals Party scare you out of voting for someone who will fight for your community. 

Don’t risk being bullied. Don’t risk being ignored for another 3 years. Vote Community, vote Oakeshott. 

Barnaby Joyce thinks campaigning should only be for the rich

Barnaby Joyce thinks campaigning should only be for the rich

The Australian newspaper on Wednesday morning reported that Barnaby Joyce has suggested that my 'Oakeshott for Cowper' campaign is all about me making ‘a quick money grab’.

This is a leader of a party that benefits from large corporate donors in the industries of mining, gambling and tobacco.  A party currently in a scandal around the use of public funds to do base political work and data collection on people, a Coalition party where at least 10 MP's have resigned in the past three years in NSW, including a Premier, due to questionable dealings with money in politics, and with a federal party leader mentioned in an offshore tax evasion scandal, known as the Panama papers affair. 

The only conclusion that can be drawn from his comments on my legitimacy as a candidate is that I have somehow crashed the party of snouts in the trough.  Yes, I have, and will happily continue to expose it. 

The implication from his comments is that the National Party now firmly believe politics is a rich man’s game. I fundamentally disagree with that. 

When the Nationals suggest that an average man on the Mid North Coast should not be running for office, they position themselves as the party of the rich.  They have now chosen to harness votes by dividing our community based on wealth.  Sorry, but that gives me all the more reason to stand and stare it down. And it now invites voters to stand with a suburban man from our region, or to let the rich talk with the rich in politics, and ignore regions like ours.  I'm no mining magnates' "pistol and boo" lapdog, and I don't covet a chairmanship of a mining company post-election.  The leader of the Nationals cannot say the same.

I will be standing for Cowper so that our electorate has a strong, independent voice that isn’t influenced by party politics and corporate donations. 

This will be my seventh campaign. I have always been transparent on all electoral funding matters and always will be. 

Follow the campaign on Facebook or by following #Oakey4Cowper