Those who were hoping yesterday’s national accounts figures might breathe some life into a moribund New South Wales election campaign have again been disappointed. This had been looming as a red-letter event because the previous quarter’s state final demand figure had been in the negative, which if repeated would have left New South Wales in a technical state of recession. The government has dodged this bullet in fine style with a growth rate of 1.4 per cent, enough for Westpac’s Matthew Hassan to tell the Sydney Morning Herald that the state "finally looks to be shaking off its malaise". Such interest as the election has to offer thus remains at the local electorate level:
Maitland (Labor 10.3%): A poll of 300 Maitland voters in Monday’s Newcastle Herald suggests Labor is in danger of losing the seat to independent candidate Peter Blackmore. After distribution of the 11.3 per cent undecided, Blackmore was in second place with 26.7 per cent to Liberal candidate Bob Geoghegan’s 22.2 per cent, with Labor’s Frank Terenzini on 37.2 per cent. Under full preferential voting, such figures could be expected to see Blackmore overrun Labor on Liberal preferences; New South Wales’ optional preferential system makes it a closer call, because many Liberal votes will exhaust. Blackmore was the seat’s Liberal member from 1991 until 1999, when a punishing redistribution combined with a small swing to deliver it to Labor’s John Price, who is now retiring. Damien Murphy of the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday that voters were being "bombarded with testimonies", "not the least by the Liberal stalwart Milton Morris, Maitland’s longest-serving state member, who has risked party expulsion by publicly declaring support for Blackmore".
Manly (Independent 0.6% versus Liberal): Manly’s "goat lady", Penelope Wynne, has announced she will run as an independent. Damien Murphy of the Sydney Morning Herald informs us she is so called because "two goats starred in a stunt she used to draw attention to a development fight with Manly Council last year". Wynne’s disputes with council have been the subject of considerable coverage in the Manly Daily; the Herald’s Anne Davies tells us this is "often the only newspaper people read" in an area "sometimes disparaged as the insular peninsula" (a distinction it shares with Pittwater, and probably every other outcrop of land in the English-speaking world). She could thereby muddy the waters for sitting independent David Barr, who faces a stiff challenge from a strong Liberal candidate in Michael Baird.
Newcastle (Labor 15.4%): Forty members of the ALP’s Carrington branch resigned en masse on Monday, announcing their support for Bryce Gaudry’s campaign to hold the seat as an independent. The media delighted in noting that those resigning included Arthur Wade, a member of 72 years. Gaudry was turfed aside for preselection last year in favour of former newsreader Jodi McKay, at the behest of Morris Iemma and the party’s head office. Also running as an independent is the highly fancied lord mayor of Newcastle, John Tate.
Monaro (Labor 4.4%): Steven Scott of the Australian Financial Review yesterday reported that Labor strategists were "confident of retaining Monaro, particularly after the scuttling of the planned Snowy Hydro sale, which was unpopular with local communities" and also with Labor member Steve Whan, who had been a vociferous critic. Iemma visited the electorate’s main centre of Queanbeyan on Monday for the so-called "Country Labor election campaign launch".