OUR SAY: Barilaro, Coalition guilty of treating voters like fools

NSW Nationals leader and deputy premier John Barilaro.
NSW Nationals leader and deputy premier John Barilaro.

POLITICIANS often bemoan the fact they are not taken seriously by a large number of their constituents.

But while it is true most politicians begin their careers with noble intentions of serving the community, once elected it does not take long for petty party affairs to take over.

In that vein, the NSW Coalition government this week has done nothing to enhance the reputation of the political class.

A bill put forward on Wednesday by the Nationals MP for Barwon Kevin Humphries sought to have State Parliament throw its support behind the Federal government’s plans to upgrade freight rail infrastructure.

It should not have been a contentious bill as opposition MPs were ready to give their support.

But the final line of the four-point motion from Mr Humphries reduced the entire discussion to nonsense.

Point four of the bill asked that the House “acknowledges that the Liberals and The Nationals are the only parties able to deliver for regional NSW”.

It was as unnecessary as it was stupid and arrogant.

Naturally, the opposition wanted nothing to do with it and sought to amend point four to simply say “this House is supportive of inland rail as a transformative project for regional NSW”, but the government’s greater numbers saw the amendment voted down.

In the end those same numbers saw the bill pass, and that’s where this fairly juvenile little episode would have ended if not for an even more juvenile press release from the office of Nationals leader John Barilaro on Thursday.

The press release claimed that by voting for the bill, member for Orange Philip Donato had endorsed the Liberals and Nationals as the best parties to lead the state.

Of course, Mr Donato had done no such thing – he had simply supported an upgrade of freight rail infrastructure for the benefit of his constituents.

He decided to be the bigger man and not buy into the game, and he should be congratulated for that.

The Nationals privately believe they are a shoo-in to regain the seat of Orange in 2019 but they will do themselves no favours by treating the voters as idiots.

MPs are handsomely paid to serve their state in parliament rather than carry on like schoolboys and schoolgirls playing a silly game of “gotcha”. Mr Donato, and all NSW taxpayers, deserve an apology.