Stand alone Sharkie

Long-awaited clarity over Rebekha Sharkie’s future political alliances is welcome news for the Mayo community.
Speculation had surrounded the Centre Alliance MP for months after the resignation of her colleague, Rex Patrick, who left the Party in August to become an independent.
That move cast doubt over the future of Centre Alliance, with some commentators suggesting Ms Sharkie was likely to be lured by the promise of a Ministry into the Liberal Party – or at very least into some kind of coalition.
Ms Sharkie’s steadfast refusal to be interviewed about the topic over the past couple of months only fanned the flames of speculation.
Now, for the first time since August, the former Liberal Party staffer has cleared the air about her political future, ruling out returning to the Liberal Party or forming any kind of alliance with any of the major parties.
While the basis of the speculation about her future is still somewhat cloudy – with some senior Liberals denying negotiations were even happening – the unwillingness of both sides to speak openly about any discussions indicates there was at least some truth to the rumors.
Ms Sharkie’s emphatic rejection of an alliance with the Liberal Party will likely be welcome news for the Party’s Mayo branch, whose members have made it clear that they would prefer to choose their own candidate.
But it also gives Hills voters greater clarity about where their vote is going and – perhaps most importantly – all but guarantees that Mayo will retain its status as a seat the Liberals want to win back.
For decades the electorate was safely conservative, but since Sharkie won Mayo four years ago the benefits to the community have been obvious as the Liberals try to regain the seat.
Last week’s $400m Federal Budget spend in the seat is evidence of the attention the electorate can attract – and comes on top of the millions pledged by the Liberal Government in the lead up to the 2018 Mayo by-election and the 2019 Federal election.
The rapidly growing and evolving region is desperate for continuing financial investment from both State and Federal Governments and, as long as Mayo matters, it will be the centre of attention.