NOOSA - The south-east coastal Queensland seat of Wide Bay comes up for grabs again next Saturday when Australia holds its federal election.
Given the wobbly state of my health, a couple of days ago I cast a postal vote at the very desk where I sit writing this. So I'm in for getting rid of the Morrison government.
Which means I didn’t vote for Llew O’Brien, the sitting member on behalf of the Liberal National Party but, as he requires a 13% swing to lose the seat, he won’t miss my vote.
Nor will packing crates be needed at his electorate office in Maryborough.
O’Brien has held the seat since 2016 and, like most of his predecessors, he’s there for the long haul.
He’s a former police officer in the region whose pastime is jiu-jitsu.
Undoubtedly he’ll lose a few points off his margin this time, but will easily retain the seat without recourse to the triangle choke.
The Division of Wide Bay is one of the original 65 seats that contested the first election after Australian federation (independence) in 1901. The seat has had only had nine MPs in the 120 years since.
Its first MP, the Scottish-born Andrew Fisher held the seat for 15 years and was Labor Party prime minister three times between 1908 and 1915, once for a full three-year term.
Fisher found World War I hard going and eventually resigned in October 1915, surrendering the leadership to one of the wild men of Australian politics, London-born William Morris (Billy) Hughes, whose favourite saying was ‘Australia was born on the shores of Gallipoli’ and who “aroused extremes of admiration or hatred” in everyone he met.
The by-election in Wide Bay that followed Fisher’s resignation was won narrowly by Edward Corser (Commonwealth Liberal Party) and he was followed in the seat by his son Bernard, who won it for the recently-formed Country Party in 1928.
Between father and son they held the seat for 50 years. Folks up here just don’t like change.
Brendan Hansen again made the seat Labor’s from 1961 (the election that nearly did for Menzies) to 1974 (the early election that reinforced for Whitlam that Labor rule would always be on a knife edge).
Since then the seat has been Country/National - Clarrie Millar, father of the ABC’s much criticised (for anti-Labor bias) Lisa Millar, held it for 16 years until 1990 and Warren Truss (who as Nationals’ leader became deputy prime minister) held it for 26 years until 2016.
Wide Bay has 100,000 voters, one-third from my retirement refuge in Noosa, which is situated at the far southern end of the electorate and currently has an Independent State MP, who I (working on strategy and communications) helped easily defeat the sitting LNP member in 2017.
Unfortunately, Sandy Bolton has turned out to be the ultimate fence-sitter and a disappointment.
Even though this is a safe seat, a large field of 10 candidates is lined up for 21 May with a full list of the bigger parties (LNP, Labor, Greens, One Nation, UAP) and some interesting others.
Kelli Jacobi is a Constitutional Independent, who wants to restore the “true (1901) Constitution” and repeal all “subsequent unlawful acts” and “reclaim Australian assets and strategic infrastructure sold to foreign powers”.
John Woodward of the Australian Federation Party wants to establish “a government owned People’s Bank to issue money debt free and end the need for taxation”.
Woodward also wants to “prohibit the government from borrowing money”, which would quickly see the end of federal government in Australia altogether.
They are joined by Independent Tim (‘I owe no one anything’) Jerome and his “fully costed plan to fix the rental and public housing crisis by diverting twenty billion from the futures (sic) funds to deliver 30,000 extra housing dwellings a year”.
Daniel Williams (Australian Values Party) wants to build thousands of ‘tiny houses’ on government land.
And Andrea Newland of the Informed Medical Options Party reminds voters that it wouldn’t be an election in these parts without the anti-vaxxers
Some interesting dinner parties amongst that lot.
Candidates for the 1922 federal election in Wide Bay:
Craig Armstrong- Australian Greens
Tracy Bennett – United Australia Party
Nathan Buckley – One Nation
Kelli Jacobi – Independent
Tim Jerome – Independent
Andrea Newland – Informed Medical Options Party
Llew O’Brien – Liberal National Party
Daniel Williams – Australian Values Party
Geoff Williams – Labor Party
John Woodward – Australian Federation Party