THE easiest thing to do in politics is just say no.
It does not take a lot of imagination or insight to simply point out what you do not like, or to find the flaws in another party’s policies.
Far more difficult is to offer a positive alternative, to say what you would do in power rather than what you wouldn’t.
And that’s why it’s frustrating to see the Anyone But Nats campaign simultaneously building momentum in regional NSW while also squandering the opportunity to effect real change.
Anyone But Nats has been holding a number of community forums targeting seats held by the Nationals and seems to be striking a chord among disaffected voters.
The timing appears right: After shock by-election losses in Orange and Wagga Wagga during the current term of parliament, the Nationals clearly can no longer rely on the support of even previously rusted-on voters.
But the message is confused. If not the Nats, then who?
Are we really to believe that the Anyone But Nats campaign would be as comfortable with a vote for a Labor or Greens candidate as a vote for the One Nation or Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party campaign, as long as the vote did not go to the Nationals?
And what about a vote for a Liberal Party candidate in those seats being contested by both Coalition partners? Does “anyone but Nats” still apply?
The real tragedy is that by not offering an alternative, Anyone But Nats is undermining its own campaign.
With momentum for the campaign growing, there is an opportunity to paint a picture of the world they would like to see, particularly in regional NSW.
That picture needs to extend beyond the negative politics of listing their grievances with the Nationals to actually incorporating positive policies on changes they would like to see introduced.
And that would naturally extend to nominating the candidates in each of their targeted seats that are best placed to deliver those changes.
It’s fine to call for change in politics, but whenever one politician is ousted another must take their place.
Anyone But Nats has apparently tapped into a vein of dissatisfaction in many parts of the bush, but it could have achieved so much more. With five weeks to run until the election, though, there is still time to do so.