In opposition to a literal Labor wall of fame, Liberal MP Lee Evans has confronted his first check of the 2023 New South Wales election marketing campaign in northern Illawarra, as redrawn electoral boundaries shift the marginal seat of Heathcote additional south. 

The picket Thirroul Railway Institute Corridor has been house to the native Labor social gathering department for many years and members proudly level to the most recent portrait.

“We have simply added Albo, does not it look good?” they are saying.

It’s scorching and humid as round 50 folks collect to listen to from candidates operating for the Heathcote seat.

All who’ve nominated have been invited, however solely Mr Evans, Labor candidate Maryanne Stuart and Greens candidate Cooper Riach attend.

Earlier than the discussion board begins, the candidates hear the Thirroul Village Committee’s bizarre enterprise.

Photo in frames of Labor Prime Ministers
Anthony Albanese has simply been added to the prime ministerial wall of fame.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

The group has grave issues about main new aged care amenities that may carry a whole bunch to the coastal village, which is already fighting an overburdened well being system and heavy visitors congestion.

The candidates are then invited to talk.

Ms Stuart receives heat applause as she finishes.

However there are audible groans as Mr Evans explains {that a} wage cap for frontline employees is critical, in any other case the “price range will likely be blown”.

Heads additionally shake as he argues he’s coming house after earlier electoral boundary shifts.

Nonetheless, he receives hearty applause because the bell rings to finish his 5 minutes.

The younger Greens candidate has introduced props, and arms round an outdated jam jar containing soiled, sludgy water, which he says was collected close to Camp Gully Creek in September final 12 months.

Woman holds old jar with filthy water in with forum in background.
A jar of sludge water handed across the assembly by Inexperienced’s candidate Cooper Riach.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

A involved mumble washes across the corridor.

These listening are nicely conscious the near-by Metropolitan mine owned by Peabody at Helensburgh obtained a clean-up order from the Surroundings Safety Authority, over two discharges of polluted water containing coal particles in July and September of final 12 months.

Shift into Labor heartland

The Liberal MP has held the seat since 2011. Nevertheless, the latest electoral boundaries shift adjustments the Liberal margin of 5 per cent in Heathcote to a probable Labor acquire, with an estimated margin of 1.7 per cent.

Three people seated in a hall in the front row, with people in rows behind them.
Greens candidate Cooper Riach, Liberal MP Lee Evans, and Labor candidate Maryanne Stuart.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

ABC election analyst Antony Inexperienced says the change sheds about 12,000 voters west of the Woronora River, changing them with 12,000 voters from Keira, the place they voted 70 per cent for Labor, two-party most popular.

On paper, the seat has flipped to Labor.

And after the Liberal social gathering misplaced Bega at a by-election final 12 months, Heathcote is a must-retain seat if the Perrottet authorities is to retain a majority authorities.

From greyhounds to ethics

Whereas the common practice bulletins from the close by Thirroul station echo into the room, the candidates begin responding to questions — the primary on the privatisation of Sydney Water.

Ms Stuart seizes a pre-prepared flyer pointing to the latest controversy from a candidates’ discussion board in Bowral, the place Liberal MPs for Goulburn and Wollondilly appeared to supply assist for the measure.

Mr Evans says he desires to “dispel this farce” as a Labor smear marketing campaign, to which somebody within the fourth row politely heckles “crap”.

The premier has since categorically dominated out any privatisation of public property.

The second query is about native mines.

“Can they guarantee us there will likely be no growth, extension or new coal mines in our water catchment?” an attendee asks.

“I’d say sure to that,” Ms Stuart solutions.

Nevertheless, Illawarra Labor has a wealthy historical past of supporting mining and its workers within the area.

A wall with a photos of old men smiling
Lee Evans had the eyes of Labor greats from throughout the ages on him as he made the pitch to voters.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

Ms Stuart says her social gathering’s coverage could be to transition the 400 employees on the Metropolitan mine into the renewable sector.

“If elected on March 25, we’d implement that right away — we have to transition shortly,” she says.

Mr Evans says “till coking coal is prohibited, will probably be mined out of this space”.

The discussion board continues with questions on all the pieces from greyhound racing to ethics, and calls for for solutions on native visitors points that are “pissing folks off”.

Leaving the discussion board, native Helen Gibson says she will likely be “doing slightly bit extra pondering” on how she is going to direct her vote.

One other native, Paul Tuckerman, praises the democratic course of and “pertinent questions,” however points a warning for Mr Evans.

“I am rusted on, and I will likely be supporting Maryanne Stuart,” he stated.

“It’s got to make a distinction with this huge a part of northern Illawarra being tipped into Heathcote.”

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