FOR the six years John Cobb has represented Calare he has always sat on the sidelines in the shadow ministry.
But if the polls tipping the Coalition to win Saturday’s election are accurate, the incumbent member will not only be part of the government, but is also expected to be elevated to the status of minister for agriculture.
The Coalition’s $147 million pledge to boost agriculture, is just one policy that will benefit Calare, Mr Cobb said.
But a $100 million initiative to improve mobile phone black spots, a $300 million program to upgrade timber bridges, and close to $1 million from the green army initiative will also boost the area.
The region’s bid for a rural medical school also has Mr Cobb’s full support.
With Calare “not even on the horizon” of Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN), in the two months after the election a Coalition government would have the department re-prioritise the area disadvantaged by broadband, Mr Cobb said.
“We’ll do it at one-third of the cost the current government intends to spend,” he said.
“We’ll have it up to 25 megabits [per second] which means you’d be able to download four high definition videos at once while surfing the net at the same time by 2015.”
By 2019 the speeds will increase to a minimum of 50 megabytes per second, he said.
The Coalition’s controversial paid parental leave scheme will mean women in Calare will be on average $21,000 better off, Mr Cobb said.
“They are far more likely to have a family at a time when they’re at the peak of their career,” he said.
“It goes for twice as long [as Labor’s], half a year not 16 weeks and theirs is at the Newstart level.”
Mr Cobb said the pension will also be higher under the Coalition when the carbon tax is scrapped and pension increases and family payments introduced as compensation are left in place.
But an increase to Newstart is unlikely as it would act as a disincentive to get people back to work.
“We are introducing things like the green army that gives people the chance to be trained while on Newstart,” Mr Cobb said.
“Currently Australia has the highest number of unemployment it’s had in 14 years.
“Our first job will be to get that reduced.”
Getting the economy under control will also be incredibly important.
The Coalition will do it by scrapping the carbon tax, mining tax and the Labor government’s plan to remove the fringe benefits tax break which Mr Cobb said would hurt workers in Calare who take a car as part of the salary package.
“We’ll get some responsible, predictable, business acumen into the economy,” he said.
“Until we get it into surplus, we can’t repay the debt.”
When it comes to coal seam gas (CSG) mining, Mr Cobb said he was not against it for the sake of being against it, but there were a few things that have to happen” before it can go ahead.
He was less concerned than his fellow Calare candidates.
“Coal seam gas is one of those things that certain people make a bigger thing than it is,” he said.
“Our area won’t be overrun with coal seam gas.
Mr Cobb said there were exploration licences lodged for the north east of Calare, but it was hard to be definite while their progress was unknown.
“You’ve got to be able to guarantee that the general environment and ground water is safe... [and] the farmer needs to get a quid out of it,” he said.
The Labor government’s attempt to tackle climate change with the carbon tax has made life “more impossible, more expensive and less profitable”, Mr Cobb said.
But the Coalition’s proactive measures of offering incentives for businesses would mean more carrot and less stick.
“Of course we want to see the climate better off,” he said.
Unlike some of his Coalition running mates, Mr Cobb’s position opposing same-sex marriage remains unchanged.
“[But] I was part of a government that took away all the financial disadvantages for people that were not married,” he said.
“As long as it was your permanent partner we made it possible to do what you like.”
Unsurprisingly, he feels the current government has mishandled another hot topic for the election - asylum seekers.
The Coalition will turn back the boats when it’s safe to do, reintroduce temporary protection visas, and process arrivals offshore.
While Kevin Rudd’s agreement with Papua New Guinea was looking pear shaped, Mr Cobb was confident the Coalition’s preferred offshore location of Nauru would be “a wholly different situation”.
“Even if they are considered to be genuine refugees they can go home when things have settled down and it means the families can’t come out,” he said.
But Mr Cobb said he did not think most were genuine refugees.