From the marriage equality plebiscite to pensioner GST concessions, the local bridge route to renaming Australia Day – all topics were on the table during Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum’s visit to the Yarrawonga Mulwala Men’s Shed.
Mr Drum popped into the shed for “a cuppa and a sandwich” and to see the work completed thanks to $3000 in funding from the Federal Government through the Australian Men’s Shed Association.
The funding was used to update the carpet and linoleum flooring in the men’s shed meeting room, giving it a much-needed facelift.
Mr Drum was welcomed by Yarrawonga Mulwala Men’s Shed President and Moira Shire Councillor Peter Mansfield.
Mr Drum then took the opportunity to open the conversation to questions from the group and the discussion quickly turned to the hot topics of the day – starting with the upcoming marriage quality plebiscite.
Mr Drum conducted a quick poll by a show of hands, commenting on the result, “that’s about what I see everywhere I go – a third for, a third against and a third don’t care”.
“The vote has to happen, it’s going to happen now and we need to do it, get it off the books, and let everyone have their say,” Mr Drum said.
“The vote is not legally binding but there is no doubt if the yes vote wins then it is going to happen.
“If the no vote gets up we’ll put it to bed but Labor have said they won’t listen. Then there are five blokes ready to cross the floor and put up their own bill.”
From one plebiscite to another, Mr Drum asked for a show of hands in favour of the green or grey bridge route, in line with the Moira Shire Council Yarrawonga Mulwala Bridge Route Plebiscite currently underway.
The straw poll was overwhelming in favour of green, followed by a question from the floor as to whether or not, while Yarrawonga Mulwala waits for a new bridge, any money could be spent on upgrading the surface of the existing bridge.
To which Mr Drum replied, “probably not”.
Mr Drum said social issues, such as marriage equality and the recent debate on renaming Australia Day, would continue to divide the community.
“The thing about it is these debates tend to be hijacked by the political elite and, a bit like the Brexit vote and the American election, people aren’t really talking about how they’re actually going to vote,” he said.
“Then the result seems as though it’s coming out of left field.
“My advice to you blokes is that when you are standing around at a barbecue and someone is doing all the talking, don’t listen to them. Go and speak to the ones that aren’t talking and you might get a better sense of what more people actually think.”
Mr Drum, a former carpenter and shed builder himself, praised the work of the Yarrawonga Mulwala Men’s Shed and joked he would be delighted to be considered for future membership.
His sentiments were echoed by Moira Shire Council Mayor Gary Cleveland who said the Yarrawonga Mulwala Men’s Shed was “a fantastic facility” and he was looking forward to see what the future would hold for the group.
“It’s great that the men’s shed can continue to provide people with an active role within the community.”