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Gavin King

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Leichhardt Election Battle: Episode 2

Second instalment of our light-hearted and occasionally informative look at the 2016 campaign for Leichhardt.


To cut to the chase, the news isn't good for Shazza.

Shazza - otherwise known as Labor candidate for Leichhardt Sharon Howes - was always going to face an uphill battle against Wazza, as outlined in last week's GIF-filled episode.

"Uphill battle" is putting it a bit mildly, to be honest.

It's more like Walsh's Pyramid    Bartle Frere    Mount-freakin'-Everest.

*Sorry*

No, really.


In last week's GIF Battle we talked about the online bookies and the fact sitting MP Warren Entsch was odds-on favourite to keep his seat.

Well, the odds have actually gotten worse for Shazza since then.

To put a metaphoric spin on it, Shazza is now drifting like a clueless terrorist in a tinnie trying to get to the battlefields of Syria via the treacherous waters of the Torres Strait.

Last week, she was within striking distance at $2.75 compared to Wazza's $1.40.

Now, the odds have widened to:

Shazza be like:


But hey, the bookies aren't always right, right?

Well, yeah, they are. At least according to several university studies aimed at answering that very question.

Anyway, enough of the laser-sharp accuracy of the online bookies and the despondency they inevitably cause to any candidate crazy-brave enough to look at them.

What about the opinion polls?

OK so the polls aren't exactly super great for Shazza either, but they do show a 3.7% swing against Wazza and a 3.7% gain to Labor. So there's that.

It will be interesting to see what the polls and odds do next, given Wazza has just loaded up and let off a bit of a double-barrel shot across Shazza's bow. Metaphorically speaking.

First, the Turnbull Government backed down on the controversial backpacker tax, pleasing farmers and tourism operators no end.

Wazza followed that up with a visit to Cairns yesterday by none other than the Prime Minister himself to announce the $24 million package to upgrade local shipyards.

For her part Shazza has been a bit quiet on the announcement front since the flurry of activity when her fearless leader Bill Shorten visited Cairns on the first day of the campaign.

A quick glance at her Facebook page reveals a lot of talk about Medicare and how the Turnbull Government will do bad, bad things to it.

She is also visiting the far corners of the Leichhardt electorate and engaging in grass roots activities and door-knocking, which is a tough ask given the electorate is a whopping 148,988 sq/km. That's a lot of shoe leather.

Labor has announced a few national policies with relevance for local residents, such as the Water Safe program aimed at ensuring Aussie kids have the skills to stay safe in the water and $7 million to support women with breast cancer in rural Australia.

Apart from the two major party candidates, there has been a bit of a bombshell in the Leichhardt campaign.

The news kinda crept up on the other candidates like:

That surprise bombshell is Daniel McCarthy.

Calling himself a conservative independent, Dan the Man has previously been an election candidate for the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party.

While he hasn't got a hope in hell of actually winning the seat, he could lure in voters who are disillusioned with the two major parties.

If Dan the Man polls at 10% or more he may cause Wazza some headaches, not to mention that Greens candidate Kurt Pudniks is also in the mix so the flow of preferences could be a factor.

Perhaps most exciting of all is the thought of watching the inevitable verbal brawl between Dan The Man and The Big Pud (that's Kurt Pudniks in case you were wondering).

You see, Dan The Man has rather strong views about The Greens and climate change (he's not a fan of either).

So I'll have a front row ticket thanks very much to the first time these two go toe-to-toe on stage at a debate. Dan The Man versus The Big Pud is going to be bloody sensational. If not actually bloody.

An interesting aside to the local campaign over the past week was the fact that our silvertail Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had a beer in a Cairns pub.

This is the standard campaign card trick where a leader goes to great lengths and extreme personal pain to appear as normal as possible. It never works, of course. They aren't normal. They're politicians.

Trust me, I know these things.

So the PM visited the Rattle N Hum on the Esplanade for a nightcap with some of the travelling journos on Tuesday night.


We can only hope their conversation was a little more scintillating than some of Mr Turnbull's recent press conferences, where one theme in particular appears to be dominating his thoughts about what this campaign should be about.

The PM's singular focus on this solitary theme - highlighted rather clearly in the short video below - is probably a good thing.

The youth unemployment rate in Cairns is very high at the moment: 28.8% for those playing at home, or reading this in the queue at Centrelink.

Let's hope the tropical north sees a few more positive announcements from all sides (like the marine infrastructure package) so we can see some action, and not just repetitive talk like...