Centre of attention

Prime Ministers from both sides of politics have visited the Federal seat of Mayo over its 32-year history.
Even Labor leader Julia Gillard snuck into the district a few years ago to take a peek at the defence housing at Inverbrackie before announcing her intention to turn the place into a detention facility.
But The Courier cannot recall a Prime Minister doing any active campaigning in this traditionally safe Liberal stronghold over the previous 12 elections.
Now in the space of five days the region has had a visit from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offering $3.75m for a much-needed regional sports hub in Mt Barker, and a visit from one of Australia’s most popular former Coalition leaders, John Howard, warning voters about the dangers of flirting with a minor Party and deviating from the two-Party preferred system of government.
Even if the internal polling for sitting member Jamie Briggs is not as dire as his opponents would like, SA Senator Nick Xenophon is right – the Liberals are spooked.
Mr Briggs was re-elected in 2013 with nearly 54% of the primary vote and held the seat with a 12.5% margin.
He shouldn’t be worried.
Other Liberals in more marginal seats have greater cause for concern but Mr Howard chose to spend some very public time in Mayo.
That could be because Mr Briggs was his former adviser and was Mr Howard’s “captain’s pick” for Mayo when former member Alexander Downer resigned in 2008. Mr Howard was certainly at pains yesterday to point out his admiration for Mr Briggs.
However, what is more likely is that Liberal polling shows support for the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) is high enough to be considered a threat.
Mr Xenophon is seen as someone who stuck up for SA when the major Parties showed little conviction in addressing the State’s looming jobs crisis.
With his centralist politics more palatable to traditionally conservative voters, his willingness and ability to negotiate and a perceived level of dissatisfaction with Mr Briggs in the electorate, his NXT candidate Rebekha Sharkie could well secure enough votes to shake up Mayo.
If that means more attention on this region, then bring on marginal status and more visits from PMs – past or present.