Election day

With little change in the Mayo polls since last year’s by-election, Saturday’s election is likely to result in a comfortable win for sitting member Rebekha Sharkie.
But even before the election’s first public poll in Mayo earlier this month showed Ms Sharkie with a 57% two party preferred advantage, the Liberal Party appeared to have seen the writing on the wall.
The Liberal Party, while directing about $15m in funding towards Mayo since the election was called, has been almost entirely focused on saving the neighboring seat of Boothby – SA’s most marginal seat.
Mayo has attracted little attention from senior Government politicians in recent weeks indicating the Liberals have decided putting valuable time and effort into Mayo is unlikely to reap rewards.
In the past month Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made four visits to Boothby in an effort to protect first-term MP Nicole Flint who holds the seat by a margin of just 2.7%.
By comparison, Mr Morrison has visited Mayo just once – for a very brief ‘meet and greet’ photo opportunity on the seat’s fringes during, you guessed it, one of his regular trips to Boothby.
Of course, elections are not all about high profile visitors but they do indicate where a party believes the extremely valuable time of its leader is best spent.
Internal Liberal polling must indicate that a reversal of last year’s strong by-election win by Ms Sharkie is not on its radar.
If Labor forms Government on Saturday the next three years will be a test for Ms Sharkie as it remains to be seen if she is capable of delivering for Mayo under a Labor Government.
Labor may be willing to support Ms Sharkie and listen to her requests – not only to fund much needed local projects but also for wider political reform – in order to prevent a future Liberal candidate re-claiming what was once a certain win for the conservatives.
Labor has no hope of ever winning Mayo and its main interest will be keeping the Liberals out. The best way it can do that is to keep Ms Sharkie delivering.
However, the scenario that delivers the best outcome for the residents of Mayo is to keep the seat marginal.
This is a difficult balancing act but marginal seats reap the biggest rewards – irrespective of which side of politics is in government – and we only have to look over the fence at Boothby for a perfect example.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.

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