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Labor buoyed by big swing

Tuesday, 31st March, 2015

By Erica Visser

Labor might have lost the state election but that didn’t stop local members from celebrating into the early hours of Sunday morning. 

The ALP would have been happy with securing even a couple of local polling booths at the weekend, after former Nationals MP John Williams did a clean sweep of the city in 2011 despite a strong Labor presence.

So when the news broke on Saturday night that Wilcannia-based candidate Craig Ashby had taken out all of the far west’s nine booths on a microscopic budget, the local branch was thrilled.

“We sort of said to ourselves, ‘Now we just want to win a couple of booths’ but we also knew people weren’t happy with the way things were being governed,” said the ALP’s Darriea Turley.

“...This is a seat that has been considered unwinnable by Labor. There is a huge swing and the swing is impressive.

“It wasn’t what the National party expected. We were up against big money and we didn’t have the resources.

“We were running off the smell of an oily rag. We just worked hard and got our message across. The branch did very well, it’d be rare to find a vote (this strong) in any other town.”

Cr Turley dismissed the popular notion that it was fears over groundwater that were responsible for the pleasing swing.

Instead she said that local residents had been unhappy with a lack of investment for some time and were offended by the idea that their “votes were for sale.” 

Cr Turley said it was now up to local constituents to ensure our new representative, Nationals member and water minister Kevin Humphries, stuck to his pre-election promises.

“We need to make Kevin Humphries and the National party accountable now. There’s been over $100 million promised for projects in this region and we need to tick all of the boxes as (the funding) comes in.

“Broken Hill was clearly a targeted area during the election campaign and what we’d like to see is a strong office and strong presence by the minister and state government.”

Cr Turley thanked the community which had stuck by Labor and commended all of the candidates on their tireless campaign efforts.

“I’d like to congratulate Kevin Humphries and to recognise (independent) Rohan Boehm, (Greens) Cameron Jones and Ian Hutchinson (Christian Democrats) - it’s been a long campaign for everyone.

“But I think Craig Ashby should be particularly proud of his result.”

Whilst all other candidates spent election day at Broken Hill’s polling booths Mr Ashby, who is just 28-years-old, was in his home town of Walgett alongside family.

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