THE election battleground in Wagga has been labelled the quietest in recent memory by one of the city’s leading political analysts.
Troy Whitford, a lecturer in politics and history at Charles Sturt University, has seen bitterly fought three-cornered contests in Wagga and an independent fight tooth and nail to claim the state seat just four years ago.
But this time around, he said there was a lack of general interest in the campaign.
“It seems we’ve moved into this fait accompli mood again and (the election) just doesn’t seem to ahve the excitement, which is worrying,” he said.
“We won’t get what we need out here if we’re not a bit of a squeaky wheel.”
Dr Whitford believes neither the belief nor the resources exist among the five candidates vying to wrest the seat from the Liberals for the first time since 1957.
Independent candidate Paul Funnell agreed resourcing was a huge issue in mounting a sustained challenge – but belief was certainly not lacking.
“I have the belief to topple Daryl (Maguire) … I believe I can do it but the lack of resources is making it difficult,” he said.
The profile of candidates put up by Labor in recent elections was another issue raised by Dr Whitford, who said they were not of the same calibre as local party giants Pat Brassil and Col McPherson, who ran the Coalition close in federal and state elections in the 1990s.
“Not only were they high-profile Labor men, but they had a strong following,” he said.
“We don’t have those sort of strong Labor-type figures in our region anymore – I’m talking about guys who have been on local councils, active in the local community, well-known and well respected.”
Labor candidate Dan Hayes said he didn’t believe his lower profile held him at a disadvantage.
In contrast to comments made by previous Country Labor Wagga president Glenn Elliott-Rudder to a branch meeting in January last year, that suggested a Labor candidate winning election was a far-fetched thought, Mr Hayes said he was in the race to “make a change” and grow Labor’s supporter base in the seat.
“There is no glory in Labor candidacy in the Riverina, you do it for the 30 per cent of voters who vote Labor,” Mr Elliott-Rudder told the meeting last January.
Mr Hayes told the Advertiser on Wednesday the party had "an important role to play in the community".