Nationals candidate for Page Kevin Hogan with son Sean, 13, and wife Karen at the Lismore Turf Club supporting the Lismore Truck Parade and Race Day on Saturday.
Nationals candidate for Page Kevin Hogan with son Sean, 13, and wife Karen at the Lismore Turf Club supporting the Lismore Truck Parade and Race Day on Saturday. Marc Stapelberg

Coalition buoyed by latest polling

NATIONALS and Liberal candidates in Page and Richmond say they are encouraged, but cautious, about a new poll at the weekend showing the Coalition in an election-winning position.

A Herald/Nielsen poll published in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald showed the Coalition leading Labor 52 per cent to 48pc on a two-party preferred basis, reversing figures published in other recent polls.

The result was qualified by a small sample size and bookies at the weekend were still tipping a Labor win, both nationally and in Page – the only local seat they are offering odds on.

Richmond Nationals candidate Alan Hunter, Page Nationals candidate Kevin Hogan and Richmond Liberal candidate Joan van Lieshout each said they drew some comfort from the poll – but not much.

“I don’t put a lot on one poll three weeks out from the election date, but it’s picking up on sentiment in the community and that doesn’t surprise me,” Mr Hogan said.

Mr Hogan and Ms Van Lieshout both said the result reflected voter perception of a divided Labor Party in the wake of a series of Cabinet leaks against the Government.

However, Page Labor MP Janelle Saffin said those issues did not appear to be troubling the minds of voters in her seat.

Ms Saffin said she was focused on local issues, such as health, and the people she was speaking to in the electorate were of the same mind and not interested in the leaks.

Mr Hunter, Mr Hogan and Ms van Lieshout said the people they were meeting were similarly focused on local issues – but they were also conscious of, and concerned about, the leadership of the Labor Party.

“I am speaking to Labor members and even they are saying ‘we don’t like what they did to him (former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd),” Ms van Lieshout said.

Mr Hogan said he had been hearing similar complaints within Labor ranks and accused Ms Saffin of trying to distance herself from her party in the campaign.

“Look at what happened last time,” he said. “Every Labor candidate ran saying they were Kevin Rudd’s candidate, including Janelle Saffin. Her paraphernalia said ‘I’m Kevin Rudd’s candidate in Page’.

“When people are voting in a Federal election and see she is Julia Gillard’s candidate in Page they will ask ‘how are they (the government) performing?’ and they’re not performing well.”

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