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Labor 'still strong despite swing away'

Thursday, 2nd September, 2010

* Neville Gasmier * Neville Gasmier

The local Labor branch said support for the party remained strong despite more than 40 per cent of Broken Hill voting to have Tony Abbott elected as prime minister.

At the August 21 federal election, on a two-candidate preferred basis, the city gave Labor 59 per cent of the vote - down from 67 per cent in the 2007 election - while the Liberal Party achieved 41 per cent of Broken Hill's vote, up from 33 per cent in 2007.
The president of the Labor Party's local branch, Neville Gasmier, said while the Coalition did improve, it was not because people wanted Mr Abbott as leader.
"Not 41 per cent voted for Tony Abbott, 41 per cent voted for Sussan Ley, who was the incumbent," Mr Gasmier said.
"(And) they voted for Christian Emmery, who is a member they wanted to represent them in government as an ALP candidate."
Mr Gasmier acknowledged that the vote had fallen since the last election, however he said support for Labor remained fairly constant.
"There was no doubt in my mind that people responded well to the Kevin 07 election and that's reflected in the figures," he said.
"I think the support in the last election was overwhelming in Broken Hill (and) it was always going to be hard to maintain those figures.
"I think it's a fabulous effort for the people of Broken Hill to have continued to support Labor, and continually over many years.
"It's been around 60 to 70 per cent and that level for many years - it's 59 per cent this time around - it's continually 60."
While the results from the August 21 election are still unknown, with three rural independent MPs holding the key to unlocking the current political stalemate, moves to shore-up Labor's hold on government advanced yesterday with Greens MP Adam Bandt signing a deal with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Victorian Bandt gave his support to Ms Gillard and the Labor Party after a deal was struck to consider a number of key Greens reforms, including setting up a climate change committee, making investments in dental care and $20 million to look at high-speed rail on the east coast.
There will also be a parliamentary debate on Afghanistan and restrictions placed on political donations.
It moved Labor's tally to 73 seats while the Coalition remained at 72.
Counting continues in some seats while the key independent MPs, Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, continue to negotiate with Mr Abbott and Ms Gillard prior to their decision on who to support to form a minority government.
Mr Gasmier said the city should benefit as rural MPs were effectively set to decide the next government.
"I'm enthused that they are from rural and regional areas. That will give them a bit more understanding of the issues that face rural and regional Australia, in particular NSW and the far west," he said.
"Our challenge is to ensure they stay focused on not just their one electorate but the bigger picture."
While the branch has yet to dissect its performance, Mr Gasmier said the party was happy with the ALP and Mr Emmery's performance.
"There's no secret that we had a young candidate who performed exceptionally well for person who was unknown to the city," he said.
"The campaign was a particularly short one and it was always difficult for any non-incumbent or challenger to cover such a large geographical electorate, which includes Broken Hill, to give support to an unknown young person and I think he (did) an amazing job and at the end of the day the vote stayed around the 60 per cent mark."

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