OPINION: The best elections are ones where the voters win

I'VE prattled on a bit over the past couple of days about the state election and election promises.

I have one final point to make on the question of elections and, to my mind, it's the most important: when it comes to choosing who to vote for, promises aren't necessarily the most important thing.

Certainly, campaign promises can be a useful guide, but it's tempting to turn them into a scoreboard, so they should be viewed with some caution.

In the same way, the policies of the candidates' parties can be a useful guide on how to direct your vote, but once again that doesn't give you the whole picture.

As a general rule, you'll do better having a great local MP from a party with some dud policies than having a dud MP from a party with great policies.

If that doesn't sound quite right to you, consider our political system.

Our state and Federal parliaments are made up of representatives from individual electorates. It is the job of those representatives to champion their electorates and make sure they get the things they need - ranging from more affordable groceries to high quality hospitals.

It's also their job to make sure their constituents are treated fairly and to step in and fight for them when the system fails.

A good local MP will take care of these things by pushing or promoting initiatives or policies that help his or her electorate.

Even working from the isolation of opposition or the outer reaches of the back bench, such an MP can be a powerful force for good in your local area.

By comparison, a bad local MP - someone too lazy or self-interested to really work for their community (and, to be fair, it is an insane level of work) - will provide less for their area, regardless of whether they are in government or opposition or on the front bench or the back.

There are some who might look at this and think it's all very good to have such champions on the back benches, but you need policy wonks in the Ministerial portfolios if a government is to be able to develop good policies.

My point is that, if you had a parliament composed entirely of really great local MPs who were genuinely in touch with and working on behalf of their electorates, good policy would naturally flow from that, regardless of which party was actually in power. 

So, in choosing who to vote for, look at promises and parties, but most of all look at the candidates.

Go to candidate forums. Find out which candidate is the most hard working and the most genuinely engaged with their community, and choose that person.

Do that, and you can't go wrong.


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