Battle lines drawn

Battle lines have been drawn in the fight for Mayo as the electorate faces a by-election within weeks.
Canberra’s ongoing dual citizenship saga last week claimed former Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie among its latest scalps, triggering her resignation.
With Ms Sharkie re-contesting the seat against high-profile Liberal candidate Georgina Downer, and with Labor and the Greens set to field candidates, the fight for Mayo will be closely watched.
Unlike the three other by-elections in former Labor held seats, Mayo is likely to be contested on grassroots issues and personalities, not big-picture party policy agendas.
The Liberals – who recorded a staggering 16% swing against them in the seat at the 2016 election when Ms Sharkie defeated incumbent Liberal Jamie Briggs – will be eager to win back their historically safe Hills and Fleurieu heartland.
With the party’s passion to reclaim Mayo evident, it is surprising then that there was not more competition from Liberal members for preselection and that Ms Downer was elected unopposed.
It is also remarkable that, despite the lengthy, highly-publicised dual citizenship crisis, two Liberal nominees for the Mayo preselection reportedly had to withdraw from the process at the last minute because of their own citizenship issues.
With the political clout of the Downer name and an accomplished career built in her own right, Ms Downer presents a formidable challenger for the seat.
However, the fact that she has not lived locally for some time is already being used against her by her political opponents.
Ms Sharkie, a long-term local, has built a solid reputation as a hard-working local member – both points she is hoping will count in her favor with voters.
But there can be no doubt that the political demise of her former NXT party’s founder, Nick Xenophon, and the fact she considered, even briefly, returning to the Liberals, also remain fresh in the minds of electors.
Added to the intrigue of the future of Mayo is the fact that whoever wins the upcoming by-election will enjoy a short-lived victory, with voters expected to return to the polls in less than 12 months for the next Federal election.