Except for the electorate of Morwell it appears that the remaining four Gippsland seats are safe for the LNP/National coalition. However a number of factors – some local some general – could whittle down the margins in each of these seats. These margins are substantial ranging from 4% in Bass to nearly 18% in Gippsland East.
Both Bass and Narracan may be affected by the increased numbers on the suburban fringe in their electorates making the former marginal and a possible loss. How the Liberal or National party votes will be affected by the shenanigans in Canberra is impossible to estimate but is probably slight. Nor is the climate question quantifiable as a voter motivation but may have more affect in Bass where there is a ‘climate’ Independent Clare Le Serve who polled well in the 2014 election. Also there is substantial support for renewable energy especially in the south of the electorate. Narracan remains a mystery but there could be a swing of some sort against the sitting member.
Morwell I have dealt with in previous posts but with 11 candidates – all local and with some high flyers – it is impossible to predict. Three of the candidates are climate friendly – Lund, Caffrey and Richards – and the ALP decision with the SEA Electric car factory in Morwell is a possible seat winner. But unfortunately I notice they have obviously done some preference deals with not so sympathetic candidates.
The Nationals MPs in Gippsland East and South are firmly entrenched though swings against both sitting members should be anticipated. In Gippsland South with only 3 candidates both the ALP and Greens candidates are ‘climate friendly’. Issues that may have some traction include wind generation where the MP appears to be sitting on the fence and copping it from both sides with a vocal anti-wind group in Yarram and a pro-wind group pushing the fast tracking of the offshore Star of the South project still awaiting Federal government approval. The latter is further complicated by the Federal governments’ hostility to wind power. The ALP did not put up a candidate in this seat at the previous by-election.
The further east you travel the dryer it gets and the drought must be having some effect on the Nationals heartland. Both federally and at a state level the Nationals in general and the local member in particular are yet to connect the dots with regards climate change, fossil fuels and extreme weather. Most of east Gippsland (and some of south) has been suffering a severe rainfall deficiency approaching 2 years. Compared to 2014 where an outsider ran for the ALP, this time there is a strong local candidate Councillor Mark Reeves. He, along with the Greens Deb Foskey and Independents Stephenson and Neophytou are considered ‘climate friendly’. There are a number of other issues including the Fingerboards open cut mine and netting in the Gippsland Lakes which may attract a protest vote.
It is hoped that Tim Bull’s majority of 18% will be substantially eroded. It is also anticipated that climate change will increasingly become the dominant issue in elections at all levels across Australia