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‘Opportunity for country’

Tuesday, 24th August, 2010

Louise Burge says regional voters have sent a clear message to the major parties. Louise Burge says regional voters have sent a clear message to the major parties.

By Stefan Delatovic

Regional voters were looking for something beyond the major parties, Independent candidate for Farrer Louise Burge said yesterday. 

aturday’s election was the first time Ms Burge, a farmer from Deniliquin, has ever considered running for office. She is a high profile campaigner on her home turf, but was almost unknown to voters in the Broken Hill area only a month before polling day.

Despite all that she pulled almost 12 per cent of the primary vote. Ms Burge thinks that was a significant message from those in regional areas of Farrer. “It’s a real reflection of the community that the results of, really, three weeks of campaigning have shown such immense support,” she said. 

“I think as an independent candidate I attracted support from both Labor and Coalition voters,” she said. Regional Australians on both sides of politics were isillusioned by previous policies, she said. Labor voters had lost their life-long jobs when red gum forests had been locked up through preference deals with the Greens, and Coalition voters had suffered through the abolition of the single wheat desk and the evaporation of water asset security.

The make-up of the next Federal Government is still in doubt, with both major parties likely needing the support of three regional independents to take power. “I hink it’s a really exciting opportunity for Australia,” Ms Burge said. “The three independents could determine the next Federal Government, and that providesthe opportunity to put rural and regional Australia back on the radar.

Ms Burge said she was going to keep campaigning on the big issues, as she had been doing for the last eight years. Unsuccessful Labor candidate Christian Emmery also noticed a swing away from the major parties. He said yesterday that Saturday’s poll “did not go as well as expected”. “We would have been ignorant if we didn’t think there would be some turn against us,” he said.

“But my team has done a wonderful job and that’s the best you can hope for.” Mr Emmery, who is 20 years old, plans to attend university next year. 


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