Forrest silence deafening ahead of Federal Election

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times

There has not been much noise made by either of the major parties in Forrest with just two days to go before the Federal Election.

The seat encompassing much of the State’s South West has traditionally been safely held by Liberal Party candidates and John Curtin Institute of Public Policy executive director John Phillimore does not believe the tradition will be broken on Saturday.

The Curtin University professor said there had been a swing against Nola Marino when she was first elected in 2007, but she had built on her popularity since.

“In seats with strong rural areas the sitting members tend to get a strong personal vote,” Professor Phillimore said.

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“So when Geoff Prosser retired it wasn’t too surprising that the two-party preferred vote came back to around 56 per cent.

“As long as you’re a reasonable local member in a regional seat you’ll often increase your vote.”

There was a small swing against Mrs Marino at the 2016 election, but she was still preferred in all but four polling places in order to establish a 12.6 per cent margin.

Professor Phillimore said a strong Labor showing at the 2017 State election could point towards the margin being pulled back again by the time all of Saturday’s votes have been counted.

“There was a massive swing towards Labor in the seat of Bunbury,” he said.

“Potentially that could be replicated at the Federal level, but of course Bunbury only represents a certain amount of a much larger electorate.”

He cautioned that results at the State level were not always a true indication of what would happen at Federal elections as they were fought on different issues.

“The basic services like hospitals and schools are the sort of thing that have similar interest for voters whether they are in urban areas or rural,” he said.

“All the things came together for that swing towards Labor.”

Professor Phillimore said Labor candidate Wayne Sanford could be using this election as a practice run as a potential successor to Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray.

“It’s not a bad strategy to get him used to campaigning,” he said.

“These sort of seats are also interesting in terms of watching how the minor parties go – partly from a Federal point of view and partly because there is a battle between the splinter parties on the right to see where votes are going.”

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