As I mentioned recently in another context, I generally have a high regard for people.
My regard has been battered a bit over the past few months, however, by the tone of a few who consistently comment online to some letters to the editor.
I am all for robust political discourse, and no doubt will make comments in the future as I see fit.
For the most part, no matter that I disagree with the sentiments expressed, I am very happy to live in a country where they may be expressed without fear.
My concern, however, is at the callous, vitriolic and personal nature of the posts by a few who regularly comment. Anyone who reads the online opinions will know about whom I speak.
It has become very clear to me, as it surely must have to others, that this small cabal is intent on lowering the tone of the local political debate.
Much has been said about the lowering of the level of debate in Canberra since Mr Abbott became opposition leader.
It is certainly true that this malaise has made any real debate about policies at a national level extremely difficult.
I sincerely hope that the local cabal does not have the same intent, as it would be a very disrespectful way to treat the voters in the Bendigo electorate.
I look forward to a fair and robust campaign based on policy and ability in the lead-up to the federal election later this year.
It will be a great disservice to the electorate if we allow the debate to continue to plumb the depths currently being tested by this small group.