Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced the 2013 election will be held on September 14, nearly nine months away.
With the date now set, attention can fully turn to the local seats. The two seats of most interest locally are Hume and Throsby, which combined cover the whole of the Wingecarribee Shire. They are also two very contrasting seats. Throsby is held by first-term Labor MP Stephen Jones and covers a diverse coastal, urban and country area. Hume is an amorphous inland country seat held by retiring Liberal Alby Schultz.
Here’s a brief look at the players.
The race for Hume is dominated by Alby Schultz’s heir apparent Angus Taylor (updated, see note below). Taylor does have a good grip of the issues in Hume and has an established campaign office in Goulburn. Nipping at Taylor are Katter’s Australian Party candidate Bruce Nicholson and [update: former] National Party member (but not endorsed candidate) James Harker-Mortlock. Adrian Van Der Bryl of the Christian Democratic Party has also joined the campaign.
Two more interesting points before we move on to Throsby.
- Taylor has copped some criticism for standing in for Alby Schultz at official events. Here is what the Goulburn Post has to say on that matter:
From what I’ve seen so far, Angus is a hard-working bloke who is putting in the hardest yards of all the candidates so far. I doubt he expects anything to be handed to him but I think… me personally… just my opinion… filling-in for Alby looks like a hand-out or a leg-up.
- When two KAP candidates in other states made anti-gay comments, Nicholson deftly avoided commenting on it, telling Highlands Votes he’ll let KAP head office respond instead.
Labor incumbent Stephen Jones may yet be challenged for pre-selection, but realistically his electorate would be stupid to toss out a hard-working, likeable first-term, young MP for anyone else. The problem is that Jones is from Labor’s left while his branches are dominated by right-faction powerbrokers. Thus far, other announced candidates include Liberal Larissa Mallinson and the Nationals’ Nick Cleary.
Mallinson seems to have a fairly choreographed campaign so far, and has made a few visits to the Southern Highlands, but is keeping a pretty low profile as far as local media goes. Meanwhile, Cleary takes his chances to promote and defend high-profile Nationals wherever he can, such as this letter to the Southern Highland News praising the work of State Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson.
*This post originally referred to Angus Taylor as a ‘city boy’. Angus tells us he is from a fifth generation farming family, and was brought up on a farm in Monaro. Angus’ dad was president of NSW farmers and vice president of the National Farmers’ Federation. He currently lives on a rural property east of Goulburn.