The most talked about feature of the US presidential election was the demographic and spatial divides long suspected but suddenly very clearly in view.
David Taylor in his article Republican White Guys Don’t Jump highlights that only 690 of more than 3000 counties on the US went the Obama’s way on election night, meaning essentially that the cities - younger, more ethnically diverse and more educated - chose Mr Obama. The rural areas - older, whiter, less educated - went for Mr Romney.
A glance at Australia suggests that we have the same issues in play. The heavily divided and often bitter political debate is a reality. Our sparsely populated rural areas continue to favour the conservative side of politics while the inner city votes progressive. Regional areas are also less culturally diverse, less educated and ageing faster than our metropolitan areas.
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You get the feeling not much happens on a Saturday morning in Merriwa. The sleepy country town in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales just hums along quietly. Except for its proud and tidy RSL, where the front bar opens at 10am, horse races flash across the television screens and tickets pump out of the Club Keno machine.
In a stuffy back hall, on neat rows of red vinyl chairs sit the Merriwa Healthy Environment Group; a group of local farmers and landowners who came together in February to unite against the coal seam gas companies as they rode into town. Seven months later, they feel under attack.
Their enemy? PEL 456, PEL 468, PEL 4 and PEL 433; coal seam gas exploration licences for Merriwa and its surrounding areas of cattle, sheep and cereal farming land, up for sale to the highest bidder.
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