Today is the day! After a long and gruelling week of campaigning, South Australian voters have received our phone calls and letterboxing, watched the three leaders fight it out in a People’s Forum and seen all the ads (including the latest excruciatingly awful one by SA Best), and will now be exercising their democratic right on Election Day.
The mood in the air is one I’ve never experienced before. It’s not just one definitive mood. For example, people aren’t solely quietly confident or ready to win or ready to lose. Everyone knows we will probably not know the winner of the 2018 South Australian Election tonight (or on Sunday for that matter).
As a result, instead there is a variety of feelings. I would say trepidation, hope and some quiet confidence.
Just like the mood is one like I’ve never experienced before, this election is also one like I’ve never experienced before.
Coming from WA, I’m not used to a viable threat in a minor party - in this case, SA Best.
Over the past week, I’ve been working hard in two key seats: Davenport and Waite.
Both seats fall into the Federal Electorate of Boothby in which the NXT Candidate at the 2016 Federal election polled quite strongly in certain areas. From those polling results and from polling over the past 12 months, we knew we were in for a fight.
Fortunately when it comes to the seat of Waite, Sam Duluk (current member for Davenport and now running for Waite) is loved by the community. Phone canvassing for him and being out with him in the area would make you think he were Roger Federer. I have yet to hear a bad thing about him by any constituents and was even told by one that despite normally voting Labor, she was going to vote Liberal just because she really liked Sam and can see he has served the community well.
Sam has worked hard over the past four years as a local member and has run a very strong and smart campaign. Over this past week, I’ve learnt a lot from him and his team in terms of how to run a great campaign and I’ve learnt a lot from Sam in particular in terms of how to be a great local MP. Between you and me, I am quietly confident when it comes to the seat of Waite.
The seat of Davenport, however, is a whole different set of circumstances. This seat has undergone significant (and unhelpful) redistributions. The SA Best candidate is Karen Hockley, who ran against Nicolle Flint in the 2016 Federal Election for the seat of Boothby. She polled strongly in some areas that fall into this seat and has been a Councillor on the local council, Mitcham Council.
To do our best to circumvent her name recognition, the SA Liberal Party preselected the candidate for this seat 18 months ago. Yes, 18 months ago! That’s not the norm when it comes to our Party. The candidate is Steve Murray who was actually the State President of the SA Liberal Party right up until his preselection for Davenport.
Since that time, Steve has been campaigning hard and doing everything he can to build his profile and win over the voters of Davenport. Every morning and every afternoon for the past month, Steve has been sign waving on the very busy South Road. I joined him on two mornings this week and let me tell you: if standing out in the chilly South Australian morning isn’t dedication, then I don’t know what is!
If he hasn’t been sign waving, Steve has been door knocking, phone canvassing and out at pre-polls. However, despite these efforts, it is highly likely that we won’t know who is the new member for Davenport tonight or tomorrow or even for a week. Davenport will be one of the seats where all eyes will be to see where the cards fall.
To be a part of this - campaigning in a seat that could potentially determine the outcome of the election and the future of South Australia - has truly been a great privilege. I can vouch for Steve and all his volunteers and say they have worked the seat hard. Let’s hope that eventually the mood will be a clear triumphant one.
Jessica Wright is a member of the Young Liberal Movement of Western Australia