Rural seats backbone of Coalition win

12 Jul, 2016 01:01 PM
LNP’s Michelle Landry's win in Capricornia had a significant impact on the 2016 election result.
LNP’s Michelle Landry's win in Capricornia had a significant impact on the 2016 election result.

THE 2013 federal election landslide that deposed of the Labor government after six years saw the Coalition win 17 seats to claim office with 11 of them country electorates.

At this year’s poll the Coalition lost four of those rural seats to Labor - Eden Monaro in NSW and Tasmania’s big three of Bass, Braddon and Lyons.

However, despite the Opposition throwing significant resources at Page in northern NSW and Capricornia in central Queensland, the Coalition’s retention of government can be largely attributed to retaining seven of the 11 rural seats it claimed in 2013.

The National Party’s Kevin Hogan fought-off an attack from Labor’s Janelle Saffin in Page who was a chief protagonist behind the backbench revolt which sparked the snap suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia in mid-2011.

Dr David Gillespie held onto the northern NSW seat of Lyne that he won off independent Rob Oakeshott in 2013 while party leader Barnaby Joyce repelled Tony Windsor’s efforts to reclaim New England.

As of Monday, the LNP’s Michelle Landry had a lead of about 700 votes in Capricornia boosted by a late flurry of postal votes to give the Coalition a majority 76 seats to reclaim government.

Headed to Canberra today for the National’s first party room meeting post-election, Ms Landry said she and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull were very happy with the Capricornia result while the LNP also retained Flynn in a tough electoral battle against the ALP.

“It has been a tough election and I even told the Prime Minister I feel like I’ve been through a war and back with this,” Ms Landry said.

Ms Landry said Capricornia was previously regarded as a safe Labor seat and the LNP faced major issues with the union involvement, during the eight week election campaign.

She said the unions were doorknocking on polling day and pre-poll, saying put the LNP last on the ballot as they’re going to take Medicare away and robo-calls were “massive”.

But Ms Landry said she was now focussed on reconnecting with her electorate by prioritising jobs and returning people to the workforce, due to the downturn in mining.

“We’ve all had a big shake up with this election and I think we’ll go from strength to strength,” she said.

Ms Landry said the backpacker tax was likely to be raised in the National Party’s meeting this week with a lot of “angst” expressed recently.

She said it was a “massive” issue during the election period but the Coalition had introduced a six month deferral on the tax increase and this week’s meeting would discuss its permanent removal.

“I would like to see the backpacker tax gone,” she said.

In other rural seats, Mal Brough’s victory in Fisher was regarded as a win for the LNP in 2013 after former party member Peter Slipper turned independent during the previous term.

That seat was also retained at this year’s election by the LNP’s Andrew Wallace after gaining a 3.89 per cent swing following Mr Brough’s retirement.

Fisher saw the main parties achieve positive swings towards them after sharing amongst the votes given to the Palmer United Party (17.42pc) and Katter’s Australian Party (3.24pc) at the 2013 election.

This year, Tony Smith retained the Victorian rural seat of Casey for the Liberals with 49.68pc of the primary vote while Kristin Bacon of the Animal Justice Party returned 4.41pc.

Liberal Sarah Henderson also held onto the provincial electorate of Corangamite that she won off the ALP in 2013 despite a negative swing of 0.5pc.

The Liberals gained the WA rural seat of O’Connor in 2013 off the Nationals which was retained by Rick Wilson this year but they lost the SA rural seat of Mayo to the Nick Xenophon Team and Murray in north-west Victoria, to the Nationals.

The NXT also nearly pinched two other SA country electorates from the Liberals - Grey and Barker.

In Grey incumbent Rowan Ramsey’s NXT opponent Andrea Broadfoot claimed 27.95pc of the primary vote in achieving a negative 11.4pc swing against the sitting member.

In Barker, the NXT’s James Stacey inflicted a 12pc swing against incumbent Liberal Tony Pasin after claiming about 30pc of the primary vote, almost doubling that of Labor’s candidate.

The LNP also reclaimed the Queensland rural seat of Fairfax that won by Clive Palmer and the PUP in 2013.

Overall, the Nationals look to have won 16 Lower House seats with Damian Drum’s victory in Murray adding to their tally of 15 from the last parliament and potentially all six Senate seats retained if Barry O’Sullivan claims the fifth post for the Queensland LNP.

This year, Labor picked up the NSW provincial seat of Macquarie from the Liberals while retaining the rural seats of Hunter and Richmond in NSW, Wakefield in SA, McEwan in Victoria and Lingiari in the NT.

Of the seats that changed hand this election, the Opposition also won the outer metropolitan seat of Macarthur and provincial seats of Paterson and Dobell in NSW and Longman and Herbert in Queensland.

With an anticipated 22 members of parliament, the Nationals are expecting to gain an extra ministry position with a percentage calculated on the number of members elected, by each of the Coalition partners.

After the 2013 election, the Nationals comprised 17.1 per cent of the joint party room -up from 16.8pc before the election.

The Australian Electoral Commission has the Coalition on 76 seats this year compared to 90 in 2013 and 69 for the ALP against 55 at the previous election with the Greens continuing on one seat and four independent MPs.

Labor leader Bill Shorten conceded defeat at the weekend after the Coalition looked set to form a majority government or minority government with the support of rural independent MPs on supply and confidence.

Vote counting is expected to continue for the Senate for several weeks where a double dissolution election was held.

As of Tuesday, the LNP looked set to claim 26 Upper House positions and the ALP 25 with 11 in doubt.

The number of Senate crossbench members is set to be expanded with the NXT claiming up to three in SA and one for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party in Queensland.

Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


Chick Olsson
12/07/2016 5:26:04 PM

Thats the thing about country folk. We still have some decent values remaining and will remain loyal to those who are totally Pro Ag>> Eg, Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash


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