23 April 2022

McCormack faces one less political rival in the battle for Riverina

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Two men speak over a fence

Member for the Riverina Michael McCormack will face seven contenders at the upcoming election. Photo: Michael McCormack.

In a surprise federal election twist, the Riverina will have one less challenger in next month’s poll with the news that independent Pennie Scott has withdrawn from the race.

Initially citing “unforeseen circumstances” on Twitter, Ms Scott later explained on her LinkedIn page that she had “stuffed up”, and missed the deadline for nominations.

Riverina is the third safest Coalition seat in the nation and rival candidates will have a tough time removing sitting Member Michael McCormack.

Cementing his position at the 2019 poll, Mr McCormack increased his two-party preferred margin by more than three per cent.

This provides him with what would appear to be an unassailable margin but, despite the daunting task this presents, the seat had attracted a solid field of eight contenders – four more than the last election – before Pennie Scott dropped out of contention.

The independent, who lives near Cowra, has been a fierce advocate for measures to address climate change and was calling for an overhaul of the Murray Darling Basin Plan. In announcing her withdrawal, she took a final swipe at the sitting member.

“I’ll continue campaigning to have a new member for #Riverina as @M_McCormackMP is unfit to hold public office. #inlandRailCorridor is just the start,” she declared on Twitter.

Of the remaining contenders, Michael Organ already has one political upset to his name as the first Greens candidate to win a seat in the House of Representatives.

Having recently retired to Murrumburrah on the South West Slopes, Mr Organ has remained active with the Greens since that historic election in 2002.

His experience in political circles will serve him well in the campaign, but his relatively low profile in the major voting centres of Wagga Wagga, Cootamundra, Cowra, Forbes, Parkes, Temora and Young could make it difficult to lift the party’s vote significantly from its 2019 result when it secured 6254 first preference votes – a positive swing of 1.71 per cent.

READ MORE Michael Organ hopes to overcome the odds a second time and win the Riverina

Labor candidate Mark Jeffreson has thrown his hat in the ring again having represented the party at the 2019 poll.

Mr Jeffreson had a tough initiation to politics when Labor’s first preference vote count declined by 2.36 per cent in an election which saw a surprising strength in the conservative vote and the rise of the United Australia Party.

As a long-time resident of the Wagga region, Mr Jeffreson has been critical of the status quo saying that the Riverina has been “taken for granted” under the Coalition, and that a vote for the ALP would reduce the significant margin and may lead to the electorate receiving more attention from the government no matter who is in power.

United Australia Party (UAP) candidate Daniel Martelozzo has a solid base to work with following the efforts of Richard Foley.

Now a Wagga Wagga City Councillor, Mr Foley captured more than 10 per cent of the first preference vote at his first outing for the UAP in 2019, indicating there was an appetite for options outside of the two major parties.

Mr Martelozzo has been a successful businessman in Wagga and his campaign has been boosted with a recent visit to the region by outspoken UAP candidate Craig Kelly – one of the main faces of the party’s advertising campaign which has dominated the airwaves for months.

While unlikely to be a serious threat to the sitting Member, the UAP is placed to gain further traction in this traditionally conservative seat.

Temora’s Dean McCrae will be standing for the Liberal Democratic Party on a platform that has a focus on having a more appropriate and measured response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as addressing climate change issues while standing firmly against the net-zero carbon emission targets.

As the sitting Member Mr McCormack has the benefit of incumbency and following, the loss of the leadership role in June 2021, has been able to increase his visibility in the electorate.

Since first being elected in 2010, Mr McCormack has consistently polled above 66 per cent of the vote on the two-party preferred count, his strongest performance being in 2013 when he cornered 71.17 per cent.

The 2019 Riverina result was one of the strongest in the Coalition stable recording a positive swing of 2.73 per cent, which included a strong showing winning 5187 pre-poll and postal votes which was more than double those received by the Labor Party.

Riverina candidates for the 2022 election, in the order they will appear on the ballot:

  • Richard Orchard (One Nation)
  • Mark Jeffreson (Australian Labor Party)
  • Daniel Martelozzo (United Australia Party)
  • Steve Karaitiana (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party)
  • Michael McCormack (The Nationals – sitting Member)
  • Darren Ciavarella (Independent)
  • Dean McCrae (Liberal Democratic Party)
  • Michael Organ (Greens)

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Barry Hunter5:43 pm 03 May 22

Time for a clean sweep, McCormack doesn’t deserve any respect for what he has done to the country and allowed the LNP to get away with, they have ruined the Australian name not only in the Pacific but worldwide
Pity Pennie dropped out but we still have One Nation and Darren Ciavarella [Ind]
No way should any of the majors be allowed into parliament again

For such a seemingly safe seat, it’s a shame the LNP continue to endorse Michael McCormack, that is if he makes it across the line.

It should be seen as the sort of malaise that sets in when a party takes a constituency for granted.

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