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No clear winner in close race for Albany hopefuls

Gareth ThomasAlbany Advertiser

The race for the seat of Albany is being tipped as one of the closest contests in the State, but history shows incumbent Peter Watson has made a habit of winning close contests, making it a formidable task for any challenger.

The State poll is now only two days away, and with most of the photo opportunities, baby-kissing and election promises behind us, it is time for the voters to decide.

There has been no shortage of pundits weighing in on myriad polls, most of which suggest a Labor victory of varying degrees on Saturday, with political expert Ian Cook expecting a Labor victory (see page 4).

The 2017 election campaign in Albany has been a matter of business-as-usual for the most part.

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No candidate or party has turned out any truly revolutionary policy announcements, and no candidate has made any campaign-ending gaffes, so let’s examine what did happen over the course of the 2017 election campaign.

HIGHLIGHTS

Labor: WA Labor and incumbent Albany MLA Peter Watson dipped a toe in the campaign waters early, with party leader Mark McGowan visiting in the second week of November to promise a rebuild of an early childhood centre, and Mr McGowan spent time at the Albany Agricultural show.

In late January, Mr McGowan was back in town. This time he had his party’s “Plan for Albany” in tow.

The glossy 26-page brochure outlines the full suite of Labor policies relevant to Albany, and was an extra level of detail that is sometimes missing from election promises.

It will also serve as a one-stop shop for keeping Mr Watson accountable if he is successful on Saturday.

Liberal: Being the party in Government this election, the Liberals have access to Colin Barnett, and no matter what public sentiment might surround the Premier at any point in time, he commands attention from media and the community, and creates awareness of the local Liber-al candidate, Greg Stocks.

Liberal candidate for Albany Greg Stocks at Middleton Beach.
Camera IconLiberal candidate for Albany Greg Stocks at Middleton Beach. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Mr Barnett and his Government have the benefit of eight years in power, and while the State debt is an unwelcome talking point for the Liberals, they also have a long list of achievements to point to, again reflecting onto the local candidate.

The Liberals’ relatively modest election promise on infrastructure projects like an artificial fishing reef and hiking and mountain biking trails have also helped to leverage in their favour Labor’s perceived lack of plan to pay for its bevy of promises.

Nationals: The Nationals appeared to be in tune with the pulse of the electorate when their leader Brendon Grylls announced the party’s promise to build a Motorplex facility near Albany if they were elected here — an election promise that was picked up and matched by Labor.

The Nationals then took advantage of an advanced proposal to build a series of biking and hiking trails to grab a slice of the growing mountain bike tourism industry.

Rob Sutton, Louise Kingston and Terry Redman.
Camera IconRob Sutton, Louise Kingston and Terry Redman. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

A similar policy was then announced by the Liberals.

The grab for Nationals policies by the two major parties does negate any point of difference they would otherwise have had, but the fact that they were first on them lends some credence to the Nationals’ campaign ethos of being “local champions”.

LOWLIGHTS

Sign of the times: It wouldn’t be an election campaign if constituents weren’t complaining about the number of campaign signs erected across the electorate.

Two of the party branded vehicles seen in Albany.
Camera IconTwo of the party branded vehicles seen in Albany.

To some, they are a reminder of the democratic freedoms enjoyed by Australians, and to others they are an eyesore and nuisance of the highest order.

As annoying as some people may find the signs, Albany has largely avoided any vandalism or interference with candidates’ signs. The same cannot be said for some electorates in the metro area.

Fake news: Suggestions of media bias throughout the campaign have been a disappointing and unnecessary sideshow to the main event.

The unorthodox rise of US President Donald Trump and his constant accusations of media coverage that he does not find favourable has emboldened some to try it in their local campaigns. The accusations have come from both ends of the political spectrum, which suggests the media are probably doing a their job.

The odd:

Without doubt the strangest occurrence on the campaign trail this time around was the addition of brassieres to the candidates’ corflutes.

A Nationals poster is fitted with a bra.
Camera IconA Nationals poster is fitted with a bra. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

The addition of women’s undergarments to the all-male cast of candidates went largely unexplained and remains something of a mystery.

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