Voters stirring in Liberal stronghold
Monday, 2nd August, 2010
Last week BDT sampled the opinions of voters in South Broken Hill, where the Alma School booth at the last election recorded Farrer's strongest Labor vote. Today, with the help of Albury's Border Mail, we look at the feelings at the other end of the scale - in Pleasant Hills.
Welcome to Liberal heartland in the seat of Farrer.
In the safest of safest seats, Pleasant Hills, a village about 80km north of Albury with a population 39, is a shoe-in for sitting member Sussan Ley.
At the last election three years ago, 128 voters turned out at the Pleasant Hills polling booth and 120 or 93.75 per cent went the way of Liberal.
Labor picked up eight votes (6.25 per cent) and with results like those sightings of politicians in Pleasant Hills are as rare as good cropping seasons in recent years.
Not a lot has changed at Pleasant Hills since the last poll when John Howard was dumped as prime minister and Australians fell in love with Kevin07 only for his party to fall out of love with him before an election was called on August 21.
The pub, which became the first of its kind granted a community licence in 2000 is still opening its doors on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and when the local darts team needs a venue to compete in the Morven and District association.
A minor controversy at the primary school (population 13) about how nearly $80,000 could be soaked up on design, field data and site management in a $250,000 grant under the government's stimulus package has blown over.
But, despite growing optimism recent rains will deliver a long overdue bumper crop for farmers, the locals don't want to be taken for granted on polling day.
They haven't forgotten Ms Ley's decision to back a deregulated wheat market two years ago, but she did earn some brownie points for going into the lion's den and meeting face-to-face angry farmers at nearby Osborne to explain her position.
"It was one of first pieces of legislation passed when Labor came to power and the Liberals nearly fell over each other crossing the floor," farmer Corey Beckett said.
"She came out to listen to them, but that was about all.
"I certainly won't be voting for Ms Ley and we feel a bit like Mr Rudd with the knife in the back."
Mr Beckett welcomed the decision by nearby Yerong Creek farmer James Male to stand at the election without declaring his hand.
"The Male family has been in the district for a couple of generations now," he said.
Cathy Terlich and Allayne Newton were working in the post office/general store on Friday and won't be swayed by gender with Julia Gillard aiming to remain the first female prime minister of the country.
"Because she is a woman I wouldn't necessarily vote for her," Mrs Terlich said.
"Her policies are what are important and gender of the person in power makes no difference to me.
"I definitely won't be voting Labor and if the independent (Mr Male) comes up with some good ideas I am willing to lean that way."
Asked whether a good season or a change of government was his preference, farmer Randyn Fischer said: "Both.
"I am not saying the Howard Government was perfect, but he got us out of debt and had a bit of surplus and these (expletive deleted) are spending it all.
"We are the ones who are going to be paying for it or our kids."
Predictably Labor voters were thin on the ground in Pleasant Hills yesterday and one resident of the town told The Border Mail in no uncertain terms what he thought of the looming election.
"I don't vote. (Expletive deleted) off," he said.