The Member for Hume and Federal Minister for Energy Angus Taylor has downplayed a campaign in his electorate that aims to oust him from his seat.
Region Media recently published a story about the Vote Angus Out campaign that’s gaining support in the Hume electorate and invited the Liberal MP to respond.
However, on Wednesday, 12 May, Mr Taylor only wanted to discuss the 2021-2022 Federal Budget the morning after it was announced.
“They’ve got those campaigns in every electorate: Sussan Ley [Liberal Member for Farrer], Dave Sharma [Liberal member for Wentworth] – they’re all running their stuff, but today is about the budget,” said Mr Taylor.
However, he did add that he wouldn’t respond to a campaign he considered “defamatory”.
“If they’re prepared to get above defamation and above grubby mudslinging, I’m always happy to engage on policy – that’s my job – and outcomes for the region, and outcomes for my hometown and my electorate,” he said. “But while they’re making deeply, deeply defamatory claims, I’m not responding to those.”
Region Media isn’t aware of specific defamatory comments from the campaign. Supporters say they disapprove of many of the MP’s policies, including his lack of support for the dairy industry, increasing the age pension, and encouraging Australian-based industry, as well as his ongoing support for fracking on farmland.
“It [fracking] is not a big issue in Hume and there’s no plan to do it,” said Mr Taylor. “Today is about the budget and my electorate and things going on in my electorate and things that matter there.”
“Which bit of farmland in Hume is planned for fracking?”, he asked.
Region Media is not aware of any plans for fracking in the Hume electorate, but put to Mr Taylor that the campaign supporters say they’re looking at how Mr Taylor’s policies impact the whole of Australia in determining how they vote at the next federal election.
“I think they decided how they are going to vote a long time ago,” said Mr Taylor.
“The thing I want to talk to you guys about every day of the week is what’s happening in our electorate, how we continue to create jobs and opportunities, and what the big issues are for us. And that’s what I thought we were talking about [today].”
When asked to nominate key wins for the Hume electorate in the new budget, Mr Taylor noted economic recovery and employment levels.
“And then this very strong focus on getting essential services in place and major reforms; big investment in aged care, in disability, in child care and in training.
“And a very significant investment in clean technologies, [with] $20 billion investment now in the budget – 130,000 jobs.”
In relation to clean energy, Region Media asked Mr Taylor if he is aware of the two proposals for waste-to-electricity plants in Tarago and Bungonia. Both plants are in the Hume electorate and marketed as ‘clean energy’, but there is concern from local residents about emissions from them.
Region Media also asked Mr Taylor if those plants should be built in Sydney and Canberra, where the waste is coming from, rather than the Hume electorate.
“We already have a landfill in the Hume electorate at Tarago,” he said. “It’s a very big operation there with Veolia, and they’ve been good community citizens. They’ve played a really positive role in the community, supporting local projects such as men’s sheds and so many other infrastructure projects right across the region.
“Waste-to-energy is a big opportunity for the country. It’s important we do everything we can with waste, to recycle it as best we can and create energy from it where we can. So I’m a big supporter. But we’ve got to make sure the projects are the right ones and there’s the right community support.”
On the subject of economic recovery, Region Media asked Mr Taylor if the Federal Budget would make a difference to Goulburn’s empty shopfronts and the closure of major retailers Rockmans, Noni B and Strandbags inside Goulburn Square at the end of May 2021.
“We’re seeing enormous job growth in our region more generally – there’s no doubt about that, and that’s great news,” he said.
“Retail everywhere has been struggling, particularly in regional centres because of the shift to shopping online. It does mean main streets have to evolve and we’re seeing more use of space for commercial offices and residential apartments on the main street. I think that will continue.
“But it’s always important – I say to people in Goulburn – shop local whenever you can.”