The Border Watch : March 14th 2014
8 opinion EDITORIAL TOMORROW’S election for the seat of Mount Gambier is certainly shaping up to be a cliffhanger as independent parliamentarian Don Pegler and Liberal candidate Troy Bell go head to head. Given the small margin Mr Pegler holds the seat by, there is little doubt the result could go down to the wire with preferences likely to come into play. While the Barker electorate is a blue ribbon Liberal seat, the electorate of Mount Gambier - formerly known as Gordon - has had topsy-turvy history. The seat was held by Labor for many years before it was lost to the Liberals on the back of anti-Whitlam sentiment with Mount Gambier school teacher Harold Allison taking the prized regional seat. Holding onto the seat until his retirement in 1997, the electorate has since been in the hands of two independents with the Liberals unable to wrestle back the seat despite high-profile candidates such as Mount Gambier Mayor Steve Perryman and current Wattle Range Mayor Peter Gandolfi. But with newcomer Mr Bell taking a tilt at the seat and a statewide shift towards conservative politics, the Liberal fraternity may have some hope of reclaiming the electorate. However, Mr Pegler - who has the advantage of incumbency - is also in with a strong chance of retaining the seat given his widespread profile in the community. With political commentators predicting the forward sale may strip votes away from Labor and therefore preferences to Mr Pegler, others say his incumbency could boost his first preference votes. Meanwhile, Mr Bell has also been described as a strong adversary given his solid campaign over the past 12 months. While it is difficult to predict the success of the minor parties, votes are also likely to flow to the other candidates, particularly the Greens that have been campaigning strongly against fracking. Family First’s Peter Heaven - under the state stewardship of Robert Brokenshire - could also snare a portion of the votes. ViSiT US onLinE borderwatch.com.au COMMENT Close election tussle expected between Pegler and Bell ROM THE FRONT PORCH REENWOOD R GRAHAM R T the 2010 state election, Mount Gambier voters had a choice between two high-profile mayors - City Council’s and Liberal Steve Perryman and Grant council’s Don Pegler, standing as an independent. ESTABLISHED 1861 Published by The Border Watch Pty Ltd ABN: 78 007 828 819 Registered office: 81 Commercial Street East, Mount Gambier, SA 5290 Postal address: Box 309, Mount Gambier, SA 5290 Telephone: 08 8724 1555; Fax: 08 8724 1551 Website: www.borderwatch.com.au SMS: 0427 135 114 Proud member of the SCOTT GROUP OF COMPANIES The Border Watch Management: General Manager: Robin Reid Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: Jason Wallace Email: email@example.com Sports Editor: Rod Morris Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sales Manager: Dennis Jackson Email: email@example.com Pre-Press Manager: Jamie Croker Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Administration Manager: Demi Hammond Email: email@example.com The Border Watch Audited by Audit Bureau of Circulations Telephone 8724 1555, Fax 8724 1551 Responsibility for editorial comment is taken by Jason Wallace, 81 Commercial Street East, Mt Gambier The Border Watch proudly uses 100% recycled paper 538600 8 - The Border Watch, Friday, March 14, 2014 ROBYN INVERARITY Mount Gambier I think the Liberal party will have the best chance. KEVIN INVERARITY Mount Gambier The Liberals will win in my opinion. They have had a great election campaign. JULIE ROBINSON Mount Gambier The Liberals have certainly had more publicity during the campaign and they should win comfortably tomorrow. It was a close tussle between the two civic leaders with Mr Perryman holding a solid 6.6pc lead after the primary vote, but because he did not have a clear majority it went to preferences. Mr Pegler won the seat by just 161 votes and now faces the voters again after a four-year term as Mount Gambier’s member. In the 2010 election there were a number of unusual issues which did not help the popular Mount Gambier mayor. Among them was the fact that, rightly or wrongly, Mr Perryman received some community backlash at the ballot box after the inept way council went about the Main Corner process and its lack of consultation. These issues appear to have hurt Mr Perryman’s chances of winning the election outright and once it went to preferences he was in trouble. But a 161 margin is a slim advantage in any election and it left the Liberals with hope for future success. The Libs searched for a young, energetic, hard-working candidate who STREET SWEEPER Which party do you think will win to form government at tomorrow’s state election? would appeal to voters, and also be clever enough to debate the policies and issues head-on with Mr Pegler, a known solid debater and sound researcher. In Troy Bell the Liberals believe they found the right person and he certainly has put in the hard yards, campaigning almost full-time in the past 12 months in a bid to win the seat. As the campaign progressed it has become obvious the battle tomorrow is solely between independent Don Pegler and Liberal Troy Bell. Labor lost almost 10pc of its vote at the last election and after the State Labor Government forward sold the forest harvesting rights Labor is on the nose in Mount Gambier, although its preferences are likely to leak to Mr Pegler. In a small survey I usually do before any election, speaking with taxi drivers, pub and club patrons and others, I asked the question “who do you think will win the local election?” This question provides an insight into what people are thinking, particularly taxi drivers who witness many conversations that go on in a cab during an election campaign. A couple of taxi drivers said that initially the talk indicated Mr Pegler being the favourite, but in the past month there had been a definite swing with more people now believing it was time for change and that Mr Bell would secure victory. When asked if there was any particular reason for this view, that is, was there a major issue that influenced that swing, the one most discussed was the Wireless-Penola Road intersection. Perhaps a little unfairly, many taxi patrons blamed Mr Pegler for not doing enough, when in fact he has lobbied government, but as a lone voice has had no success. However, it was obvious to taxi patrons that Mr Bell has made a clear and definite commitment to fix the intersection with a $2m traffic light pledge if the Liberals win government. In a tight election sometimes a small local issue such as the intersection can make the difference. Some people surveyed suggested Mr Pegler would win on preferences, while others felt Mr Bell would have a comfortable majority. Going on 2010 election figures, only 81 people need to switch from Mr Pegler to Mr Bell for a Liberal win. This could happen, but of course politics and elections are not that simple. Mount Gambier has had 16 continuous years of independents - Rory McEwen and Don Pegler - but there seems a mood for change. This was evident among hotel and club patrons surveyed where some queried whether, after 16 years of independents was Mount Gambier any better off? Others, just as vocally, believe an independent provides a strong voice outside party politics. The answers to these questions may determine the election tomorrow, however because so many have pre-voted at Crouch Street the result may not be known until Tuesday.
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