Drought relief and National prospects

My article on the future of the Nationals is now at Online Opinion. It is interesting to revisit it in light of the recent announcement on drought relief, which will total expenditure on drought relief since 2001 to around $3b. The media see votes in this but there are not many given the overwhelmingly conservative orientation of most farmers. It does show that the National party has been more effective than some give it credit in delivering benefit to its core constituency. It fits a pattern identified by Linda Botterill. But my argument is that this farmer constituency is now even less than ever capable of delivering subsential electoral rewards. Paradoxically economic success in agriculture = increasing productivity = declining farm population.  There is a good description of this dynamic in The Changing Social Landscape of Rural Victoria.

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