THE prospect of an early election, which would see the Riverina and Farrer electorates merged into one, “boggles the mind” according to a leading Wagga political analyst.
Charles Sturt University politics lecturer Troy Whitford said bringing on an early election would be crazy, given it would result in two senior members of the government – Michael McCormack and Sussan Ley – potentially going to head-to-head at the ballot box.
“Two sitting government members going at each other, I doubt they would entertain that idea,” he said.
“You’d have this super mega-electorate – you’d never get around, you’d never see anyone.”
Should the government rush to the polls before next February, current voter numbers in Riverina and Farrer would see the Australian Electoral Commission merge the seats in order to satisfy its determination that NSW must lose an electorate so Western Australia can gain one.
A combined Riverina-Farrer electorate would see one member of parliament charged with representing an area the size of Italy.
It would also force Ms Ley, the Health Minister, and Michael McCormack, a parliamentary secretary, into a tricky three-cornered contest between the Liberals, Nationals and Labor.
“The Nats and Liberals don’t like (three-cornered contests) – it’s expensive and you’ve got two well-known sitting members with a big following,” Dr Whitford said.
“From a spectator’s point of view it’d be incredibly entertaining to watch, but I doubt they’d ever be that crazy.”
Riverina Labor assistant secretary Tim Kurylowicz, who ran against Mr McCormack for the party in 2013, was non-committal when asked if he thought a three-cornered contest would boost his party’s chances in a region it traditionally hasn’t performed strongly in.
“I think running a strong campaign would improve our chances and that’s what we intend to do,” Mr Kurylowicz said.
In the event of an early election, Mr Kurylowicz said he wouldn’t rule in or out seeking Labor’s nomination to contest a combined Riverina-Farrer electorate.
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