Here’s Port Stephens MP Kate Washington – our lady in red – introducing herself to Defence Minister Marise Payne.
The pair met at a polling booth for the Bennelong byelection. Here’s what (hypothetically) happened next.
Scene 1 (Outside the polling booth).
Marise: Hi Kate, pleased to meet you. Let’s put this byelection to one side for the moment. Let’s go to a cafe, have an iced tea and I’ll tell you the latest regarding the Williamtown contamination scandal.
Kate: OK great. Ready when you are.
Act 2 (At the cafe, with iced teas served).
Kate: As you know, we have 750 households affected by contamination from the Williamtown RAAF base. We need the federal government to properly compensate these people, so they can put this sorry saga behind them and get on with their lives.
Marise: I agree, Kate. We must put the people first. That’s what we were elected for. It was Defence who polluted the properties and it’ll be Defence who pays. As the responsible minister, I have ensured this will happen.
Kate: That’s great to hear. It’s great to see government of the people, by the people working for the people.
Marise: Yes, I agree. We will make sure that each person affected receives compensation for their properties. This compensation will be based upon the estimated value of their properties, as if the contamination wasn’t there. I can imagine that many people who own these properties have worked hard all their lives to pay off mortgages. They shouldn’t be made to suffer for somebody else’s mistake.
Kate: I couldn’t agree more. It’s great to have bipartisan co-operation on this.
Act 3 - (The resolution).
Marise: I can tell you that over the past few months, we’ve had federal government bureaucrats working around the clock to value all the homes in the red zone at a fair market price. As I said, this means they’ve been valued as if the contamination wasn’t there. We’ll also be adding $1 million in compensation for each household for the psychological suffering they’ve endured over the past couple of years. We’ll be transferring all this money to affected people before Christmas. We’ve also got our best scientists working on a solution to clean up the pollution. We’re confident we can start work on the clean-up next year.
Kate: That’s great to hear. Pass on my thanks to Malcolm.
Marise: Let’s get back to the byelection, hey? That iced tea was so refreshing.
OK, none of this (except for the handshake in Bennelong) actually happened. But we wish it did.
We saw this dog under a sign outside the Lone Star restaurant at Tuggerah on Sunday.
The dogs’ owner was sitting at a table next to the sign. We hope the owner shared at least a bit of steak with the pooch.
A Hunter Song
Robert Gibson emailed us to say: “I was wondering whether your readers would be interested in a song I recently wrote about our wonderful valley. It was inspired by the changes that are occurring in Newcastle, particularly the population and housing growth.”
The song is titled, Our Cherished Valley.
Newcastle and the Hunter Valley,
your pace and lifestyle, we adore.
May your rural charm be enjoyed,
by future generations for evermore.
The Lower Hunter was once industrial,
steelworks, coal mines and factories galore.
The main highway skirted its city,
visitors were few, but not anymore.
Today like many around the world,
our region has undergone much change.
Smoky, acrid air is gone,
but our cherished heritage retained.
To its family it has always been,
a very special place to live.
The harbour, the beaches, the lake and the valley, so much to offer, so addictive.
Big cities certainly have their attractions,
but the price they pay is very high.
We love having farmland on our doorstep and a clear view of the beautiful sky.
May your pace and lifestyle be enjoyed,
by future generations for evermore.
Nice one, Robert.
Christmas is a time of reflection, so we welcome your song.
Now we just need to hear you play it with an acoustic guitar.