Mayo now matters

A decade ago the good voters of Mayo did their civic duty and trooped off to the polls for a by-election after our Federal representative Alexander Downer decided – eight months into a three-year term – there was more to life than being an opposition backbencher.
To replace Mr Downer the Liberal Party chose a staffer of former Prime Minister John Howard ahead of a string of other locals marking the beginning of the end for one of the Liberals’ safest SA seats. Mr Briggs won that by-election narrowly from the Greens with the Labor Party not fielding a candidate.
That by-election was dominated by the condition of the River Murray but it is interesting to note there were no significant local pledges to the people of Mayo. There were no incentives. No pork barreling. It was just a handover from one Liberal MP to the next.
In 2008 the Labor Party had just taken Government and had no interest in the outcome of the by-election – but fast forward to today and the value of a seat in dispute is obvious.
Georgina Downer, the daughter of Alexander, has been working hard to win the seat held by her father for 24 years from Rebekha Sharkie.
This time almost $20m of special Mayobased funding has been promised by the Liberals and a string of high-profile MPs have been accompanying the candidate on the hustings.
But despite regular Prime Ministerial visits and funding announcements the polls have not shifted.
If those who were questioned stay true to their word Ms Sharkie will be returned comfortably on Saturday … perhaps with an increased majority.
But the real winner in this political dogfight are the people of Mayo.
Granted, $20m of funding is not anywhere near what is required to ease the growing pains felt by this rapidly expanding community, but it is a start.
Mayo is now being viewed with interest from both sides of the political divide.
At the next Federal election in a few months Labor will be at pains to ensure Ms Sharkie is returned (assuming she wins on Saturday) while the Liberals will be just as keen to win back their coveted prize. Mayo is in the box seat because Mayo now matters.