Coalition win no clear pointer

A MASSIVE win for the State Coalition in a safe Labor seat at the weekend will not necessarily translate into an equivalent win across the State when NSW goes to the polls next March, Lismore MP Thomas George says.

Speaking from Parliament House in Sydney, Mr George said the result in Penrith, which delivered the seat to the Liberal Party for only the second time since the seat was formed in 1973, had been too coloured by local and Federal issues to provide a clear pointer to a possible general election result.

Liberal candidate Stuart Ayres beat the most optimistic Coalition predictions on Saturday by turning a safe Labor seat with a 9 per cent margin into a safe Liberal seat with a 16pc margin after beating Labor candidate John Thain 66.5pc to 33.5pc.

The by-election followed former MP Karyn Paluzzano resigning from Parliament in disgrace after she admitted to lying to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which, combined with low satisfaction ratings in opinion polls, meant Labor wasalways going to take a beating.

After watching the campaign unfold, and yesterday speaking with people who manned the booths at Penrith during the weekend’s by-election, Mr George said feedback from voters suggested dissatisfaction with the Federal Government also played a role in the result.

“I think there’s a very strong message in there for all parties,” Mr George said. “What I think that showed on Saturday is people are sick of being taken for granted.”

He said Labor made a mistake in limiting theinvolvement of Premier Kristina Keneally and MPs, State and Federal, from neighbouring seats in the campaign.

Instead they should have been in there, apologising where necessary and making sure the needs of the seat’s constituents were being met, he said. When one Northern Rivers State Nationals MP wasabsent others stepped in to make sure their seat was covered.

“In business, if you lose a customer, you don’t ignore it,” he said.

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