Central Wheatbelt Electorate

28 Feb, 2013 01:00 AM
The seat of Central Wheatbelt.
The seat of Central Wheatbelt.

CENTRAL Wheatbelt is shaping up as the most intriguing rural seat in the upcoming State election.

The heartland and safe seat of the Nationals WA, a concerted Tier 3 campaign by locals and the move by Nationals leader Brendon Grylls to contest the seat of Pilbara has left Agriculture Region MLC Mia Davies to battle it out in her first attempt at a Lower House seat.

Many farmers in this region have been hit by increasing debt levels and there are fears for shrinking communities making regional services a big ticket item in the lead up to the election.

Ms Davies could potentially be a casualty, not because of her own campaigning, but for a much larger picture of the view of the National Party.

Just two weeks ago at a meeting in Kulin, farmers vented their frustration at the lack of action on issues such as Crop Mitigation Insurance (CMI) and Tier 3 by the Nationals, both of which are arguably the two of the biggest issues in the Central Wheatbelt.

But of course the only way to tell how much of a bearing that is going to have will be through the way people vote.

Estimates still have the Nationals having a clear lead over Liberal candidate Stephen Strange, who is ready for his second tilt at the seat after finishing second in 2008, losing by a margin of 17.9 per cent.

That has since been estimated at 18.8pc following the redistribution as the seat gains Brookton, Corrigin and Kondinin shires from the seat of Wagin and the loss of Westonia to the seat of Eyre.

And it would be a massive upset should Mr Strange get up.

The strong campaigning by the rural independents led by Max Trenorden and their campaign on CMI and Tier 3 have gained a lot of support in the region and just how voters will view Mr Trenorden and Philip Gardiner's fall out from the Nationals will be interesting to see.

But it is expected that many of the rural independents supporters will cast their vote in the Liberal direction.

Labor candidate John Watters isn't expected to have a major influence on the result and even WA Labor officials admitted to Farm Weekly that the party's How to Vote cards have never played a major role in Central Wheatbelt.

But in 2008, 82pc of Labor's preferences went to the Nationals.

So it shapes as another very close seat for the Nationals and Liberals and one that no doubt everybody in regional WA will be watching with interest.



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