Campaigning: No way...Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin, Federal Member for Jagajaga Jenny Macklin talk to mother Abbie and Indigo Lyte (7months) about how women on low incomes will now have access to paid parental leave at Goonellabah shopping centre this week.
Campaigning: No way...Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin, Federal Member for Jagajaga Jenny Macklin talk to mother Abbie and Indigo Lyte (7months) about how women on low incomes will now have access to paid parental leave at Goonellabah shopping centre this week.

Politicians deny election mode

JANELLE Saffin might have been doorknocking yesterday, but she wasn't campaigning.

Nor was she campaigning this week when Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin came to the region to tell everyone how great their local member was – I mean, explain the Government's paid parental leave scheme.

Justine Elliot wasn't campaigning either when she visited Nimbin on Thursday to launch a seniors broadband program, talk about the village's new skate park, and stand in the rain next to campaign posters of herself next to the cenotaph for a ‘street meeting' with any locals keen for a chat.

And Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott weren't campaigning when they trucked off to the key election battlegrounds of Perth and Brisbane, respectively, to dodge eggs and talk about boat people. Well, the PM wasn't anyway.

But it sure looked like it.

To borrow from the slogan used by Claytons, the non-alcoholic whisky popular in the 1970s and '80s, it's the election campaign you have when you're not having an election campaign.

Online betting agencies Centrebet and Sportsbet were yesterday tipping August 28 as the most likely date for Australians to go to the polls, with August 21 considered the next most likely.

Assuming a standard official election campaign of at least six weeks, that means Ms Gillard could fire the starter's gun as early as today, and almost certainly within the next week.

Ms Saffin said her assumption of an August election was based on a common sense understanding of the dates an election campaign would want to avoid – such as the Victorian election on November 27 and grand final time.

“I've always said it would be August,” she said.

Political analyst Andrew Catsaras also has his money on an August campaign. The clincher was ‘the fallout from this asylum seeker mess and what impact that has on the ALP's polling position'.

Page Nationals MP Kevin Hogan, who has been campaigning since he was preselected late last year, said he had noticed an increasing intensity around the election.

“People's antennae are up,” Mr Hogan said. “There are more people responding. They are joining in and want to talk to you.”

Ms Saffin and Mr Hogan look set to for an intense battle of their own. A recent Newspoll suggested the Page MP would increase her vote at the next election.

Odds released by Sportingbet for Page yesterday put Ms Saffin as the favourite at $1.70, but have Mr Hogan close behind her on $2.10. “We expect punters to flood in and tell us whether we've got it right,” Sporting bet chief executive Michael Sullivan said.

In Richmond, Nationals candidate Alan Hunter said he had not noticed his Labor rival out on the streets.

Liberal candidate Joan Van Lieshout was not available for comment.



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