ANALYSIS

Federal election, 2019: Parkes' future not so certain, CSU academic says

FEDERAL ELECTION: There will be a swing away from the Nationals party in Parkes, CSU political science Associate Professor O'Sullivan says. Photo: FILE
FEDERAL ELECTION: There will be a swing away from the Nationals party in Parkes, CSU political science Associate Professor O'Sullivan says. Photo: FILE

POLITICAL campaigning towards certain demographics in the community is vitally important, Charles Sturt University's (CSU) Dominic O'Sullivan says.

With the federal election this Saturday, candidates for the Parkes electorate are campaigning hard to attract final votes.

CSU political science Associate Professor O'Sullivan said strategies would be in place to target the 17.7 per cent of voters in Parkes who are aged 70 years or older.

"The population is ageing and rural seats, like Calare and Parkes, more than in urban seats so obviously candidates in those seats will be mindful of that," he said.

"A big part of the Coalition's campaign is targeted towards older people who might be affected by the Labor Party's policy to remove franking credits for people in receipt of pensions from superannuation funds."

Assoc Prof O'Sullivan said, generally speaking, older people were more likely to be engaged in party politics or to attend candidates' forums.

The population is ageing and rural seats, like Calare and Parkes, more than in urban seats so obviously candidates in those seats will be mindful of that.

Charles Sturt University political science Associate Professor Dominic O'Sullivan

However, he said there were other large demographic sectors in Parkes who would be look for policies that appealed to them.

"Climate change seems to be an issue that is important for people across age groups, but perhaps a little bit more so for younger people," Assoc Prof O'Sullivan said.

"Younger people tend to engage more with social media for example, and perhaps more so on specific issues rather than with political parties."

He said Labor's childcare policy would be very appealing to people with young children.

The drought is the "single most most important issue for people in parts of those electorates" and he said the right policy will attract voters.

Parkes might traditionally be a Nationals stronghold, but Assoc Prof O'Sullivan predicts the party might not win so convincingly at this election.

"I think in terms of Parkes and Calare, it's likely the Nationals candidates will prevail, but with a swing against them," he said.

"Both those seats overlap with seats that were won by the Shooters and Fishers Party at the NSW state election.

"Although the Nationals retained the seat of Dubbo in the state election, there was a very very significant swing against the National Party there."

Assoc Prof O'Sullivan said he expects Labor to win the federal election but that there were "some very interesting seats that are a bit difficult to predict".

Talkin' 'bout your generation, and voting...

Barbara Long, Baby Boomer

Q: Have you already decided which party or who you will vote for?

A: Yes I am voting for the Nationals and Mark Coulton.

Q: Are you a swinging voter or do you tend to stick with the same political party?

A: I'm from a farming family and we always vote Liberal or National. I have been in the area for 30 years and the Coalition supports farmers. They've never really disappointed me. Labor taxes too much and spends too much. They waste money.

Q: What are your greatest concerns in the Parkes electorate?

A: The drought is our biggest concern. It's affected everyone and all our incomes. I know people in the shearing industry and because no one's got any sheep to shear, these people have got no work. Shops are shutting because of the drought too. I'm also worried Labor will bring back death duties back. There should be no inheritance tax.

Q: What changes would improve the quality of life for you or your family?

A: Lower taxes. Less money in the government's hands and more money in ours. The pension age should also be lowered, people can't keep working when they're getting so old and they've worked hard all their lives.

Lindsay Mainey, Generation X

Q: Have you already decided which party or who you will vote for?

A: Yes

Q: Are you a swinging voter or do you tend to stick with the same political party?

A: We're National here. We're off the land, but the last 10 years I was a coal miner so I can see both sides of the equation. You've got to physically manage and Labor just can't handle the money. There's no point voting for all the independents. If you go with the independent, you have nothing because you've got no one to run the show. Fifty people in the room can't make a decision if they don't have a common goal, so it's very difficult to manage.

Q: What are your greatest concerns in the Parkes electorate?

A: I think the water issues are going to be pretty big because it's all about social media. People think that Keepit Dam's never been empty before and people are shortsighted to think that. History will tell you, if you want to look into it, that all of these things have stopped before. It's only social media that is putting it to the front, people are saturated with it, so these are becoming the issues. The biggest thing is everyone trying to appease the Greens and the smaller people, I always say the silent majority gets overruled by the vocal minority.

Q: What changes would improve the quality of life for you or your family?

A: They've made it so difficult [to access drought funding]. We've got the Farm Household Allowance, it was a couple of hundred pages toing and froing, and hoops to jump through. I believe they should have given it to every farmer. If you sell a heap of stock or cattle, you're not eligible for it. You might have trouble putting food on the table for 10 months of the year and you sell some stock at the end of the year, then you're not eligible. Whether it's your money or not, or going to the bank, effectively, you're selling stock but you're not getting any income. The government says, 'There's all this money out there', but they make it that hard to access. Farmers and business people are struggling enough as is, they don't want to saddle themselves with more loans.

Caitlyn Rose, Generation Y/Millennial

Q: Have you already decided which party or who you will vote for?

A: Yes

Q: Are you a swinging voter or do you tend to stick with the same political party?

A: I'm a swinging voter. It really depends. I tend to look at how they are performing and what they are promising, and it's important to look at the bigger picture - what's not only better for me but for the country as a whole.

Q: What are your greatest concerns in the Parkes electorate?

A: I think water. I know that politicians can't make it rain, however we're in a situation now where there isn't enough water storage to tide us over. I also think mobile black spots especially out near Nyngan and Nevertire. It's crazy you can get better service in an aeroplane, but between Nyngan and Nevertire coverage is limited. I'm also concerned about the high cost of living.

Q: What changes would improve the quality of life for you or your family?

A: I think water storage again is important especially for rural and regional communities. More efficient water storage would improve the lives not only for people, but for animals and crops which means better produce.

Skye Spooner, Generation Z

Q: Have you already decided which party or who you will vote for?

A: I'm leaning towards Labor, but generally like to vote for whoever's providing the best for our community and for our farmers especially.

Q: Are you a swinging voter or do you tend to stick with the same political party?

A: This is the first federal election I've voted in, so I wouldn't say I'm loyal to Labor or any party just yet. I would say I'm a swinging voter. Their agendas change; I can see the good in each of them, so I'll vote for whoever sounds the best at the time.

Q: What are your greatest concerns in the Parkes electorate?

A: Probably based around youth homelessness, domestic violence and mental health support. Mental health is probably one of our biggest challenges, especially for our youth. Not enough young people care to vote, but if we had enough to entice us to vote, for politicians to connect more to youth and understand our needs are different to older generations.

Q: What changes would improve the quality of life for you or your family?

A: More jobs being around would definitely help. I recently lost my casual job due to the drought. I think we need more support services from the government to ensure families can be supported when they need it and when they're going through rough times, to ensure they can continue an adequate standard of living, especially for children. If I had a job opportunity to stay in Moree, I'd definitely stay, but going into the career I want to go into, there are limited jobs in town. It would be sad to have to leave for a job.

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