THE days have long gone when the former Country Party, now the Nationals, wielded power beyond their parliamentary representation and looked after the needs of the bush.
This is because elections are won and lost in the suburban areas and not in the relatively few rural seats.
Because of that the country has become a victim of so-called economic rationalism, missing out on many things city people take for granted.
Successive governments have made it harder for people to survive in country towns by closing and squeezing public services like health, rail transport, roads and education.
And who have we got standing up for us?
What happened at Grafton is a classic example of what the mainstream pollies think of the bush.
Premier Barry O'Farrell back-flipped on an election promise to keep the town's jail open but now plans to all but close the facility and do away with more than 100 jobs, which will take a huge toll on the local economy, already losing its abattoir and a Telstra call centre.
Hundreds of residents picketed the jail for nearly a week to stop the prisoners being transferred to Cessnock but lost out in the end when threatened by the riot squad moving in.
It seems only local National MP Chris Gulaptis broke ranks with the government to support the townspeople at the blockade.
Defending his decision to side with the community he said he would much rather have lunch alone in parliament than lunch alone in his electorate.
He's the sort of member the country needs.
Only a pity there's not more of them.
Peach spells trouble
A magistrate in court was having trouble with the name of a witness. "You say your name is Peach," he says. "Well, how do you spell it?"
"P-i-e-t-z-c-h-e, "your Honour, replies the man.
"Tell me then," says the magistrate. "How would you spell apricot?"
Beanies and scarves have become a fashion item in Orange with below zero mornings, day maximums as low as 5C and cold nights.
And with reports of women supermarket shopping in their flannos, everyone is rugging up as winter bites with a vengeance.
So would we care if police and ambos wore woollen beanies in winter rather than those Yankee baseball caps?
The cops are out all night in heavy frosts dealing with accidents, crooks, domestics and everything else that crops up so a beanie would be a valuable asset especially since body heat is lost through the head.
However, moves by police in Tasmania to wear beanies were, pun unintended, hit on the head by the police commissioner who refused to follow a workplace safety direction to issue them.
He did agree officers in a few select stations could wear beanies but only when the temperature dipped below 4C, although he banned them being worn inside a building or police vehicle and if officers were outside for only a few minutes.
A police union official said the commissioner's ban was ridiculous.
He said police were not people who wanted to walk down the cat walk but were more concerned about making sure they were warm while working in freezing conditions.
However, it's doubtful we'll see our Orange cops in beanies even though it would be a welcome move.
It's interesting to see the election comment coming from some of the Orange City Council candidates, particularly those from the ratepayers' mob.
Their negative attacks on the present council won't get them far at the ballot box and some of their promises like turning golf fairways into parking lots are outlandish.
Being a councillor is not a cake walk. So a tip from someone who has been there, done that: It's vastly different on the outside looking in than it is on the inside looking out.
Frack finding tour
Orange councillor and Green Upper House MP Jeremy Buckingham is touring the United States on what he calls a frack finding tour.
He's motoring through Texas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and New York looking at the coal seam gas industry, something he's vigorously opposed.
He reckons we can learn a lot from the US and see what the results of fracking looks like 10 years down the road.
He says Dallas and Texas is grappling with gas drilling in urban areas, similar to what potentially faces Sydney and Newcastle.
Wyoming has had thousands of coal seam gas wells drilled, pock-marking the landscape and causing issues for ranchers and farmers.
He says with the gas glut and corresponding price plunge, locals are now struggling to have wells properly capped and environmental damage cleaned up as the gas companies shut down operations and walk away.
He hasn't gone alone, taking with him president of the Lock the Gate Alliance Drew Hutton and representatives of the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group.