Residents of Braddon are either feeling two things at the moment – like they are the bee’s knees or tired of all the pork barrelling.
Day in day out, since the byelection was called, the North-West Coast had numerous visits from the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader and senior ministers and opposition spokespeople.
Even Tasmania’s MHAs were getting in on the action with press calls alongside the candidates. Or Tasmania’s senators joining the debate in support of their party’s candidate and targeting others.
It’s the promises and funding commitments that can make another electorate envious. However, the devil can be the detail. Is the commitment guaranteed, is it a re-announcement, is it contingent on that party winning next year’s election?
On Super Saturday, there will be five seats up for grabs. Only two are considered swing seats – Longman in Brisbane’s north and Braddon.
We’ve heard a fact since the byelections were called – no government has won a seat from the opposition at a byelection since 1920. Very few seats change hands at byelections. Since Federation, there have been 152 byelections. Of those, only 35 have had the seat change hands (or 23 per cent). Most byelections happen in safe seats. But this is a different situation than previous times – the byelection is a result of the citizenship saga of 2017.
Braddon has rarely been a safe seat. It’s known to swing and at times swing strong. In 2016 Labor’s Justine Keay won with a 4.76 per cent swing. In 2013 Liberals’ Brett Whiteley won with a swing of more than 10 per cent.
The byelection shows there is money to be spent in the lead up to the federal election. It’s clearly going to be a close election and both sides want to win. It’s important as an election that pork barrelling doesn’t claim a vote, but too look at leadership, adequate representation the candidate can provide and the party’s overall policies. And when the successful candidate is named, it’s about holding them accountable. While the campaign may seem long and drawn out, it’s pittance compared to a three-year term.