The Mayo by-election has been done and won, but don’t expect we’ll have too much respite from electioneering. Rebekha Sharkie may have reclaimed the seat convincingly, but don’t expect the Downer name to go away. Georgina Downer, the Liberal candidate, has already vowed to seek preselection for the main event, a full Federal election expected within the next six to nine months.
Sadly, the result may end up placing our region in a state of limbo in terms of government action. The Liberals, who poured so much effort into trying to win the seat, aren’t likely to give Ms Sharkie any opportunity to claim wins for the electorate between now and when the full election campaign begins. The Liberals still control the purse strings in Federal Parliament and, realistically, Ms Sharkie’s alliances only hold weight when Bills pass to the Upper House for ratification. However, the Liberal Government will need to ensure it follows through with the promises the string of Ministers made during the by-election campaign; and they have only a matter of months to do this.
Major parties need to take a step back and critically analyse why Ms Sharkie retained the seat. In the short time she has been the local member she has maintained a down-to-Earth approach. She has been a truly regional member, being prepared to attend even small events, simply to show support for small business, projects and causes. She has also shown she’s prepared to speak her mind and not be bound by party policy. The voters in Mayo have spoken, and this is clearly the style of Federal Member they want. In essence, voters voted for Ms Sharkie, and not a party, nor a party line.
In order to continue to get the best for our region, particularly in the lead-up to the next election, Ms Sharkie is going to need our support and voices more than ever to back campaigns to advance our region. Her voice maybe ignored by government for political reasons, but they can’t afford to ignore our region’s voices as a whole. If you support a cause sign a petition, write a letter or join a protest. Electors in Mayo are not ignorant. They will be well aware if it seems our voices are being ignored by a Liberal government keen to hold onto announcements and funding for an election war chest; and they will vote accordingly.