Federal Election: ‘Battle for Burt’ captures national attention as it shapes up as key battleground for major parties


National, state and local media representatives interview Anthony Albanese during his visit to Burt last week. Picture: City of Armadale
National, state and local media representatives interview Anthony Albanese during his visit to Burt last week. Picture: City of Armadale

THE national media has been focusing on the new electorate of Burt as it shapes up to be a key battleground seat in the July 2 Federal Election.

National newspapers The Guardian, Australian Financial Review, The Australian, and The Age have all published stories about the ‘Battle for Burt’.

Television and radio outlets, including National Sky News, National ABC News, ABC News 24 and east coast editions of Nine and Seven news, have also sent crews to the area.

Political commentator Harry Phillips told Comment News he believed the national media interest was due to the possibility of a close contest for the seat.

Internal Liberal Party polling leaked to The West Australian recently revealed that Burt was a 50-50 prospect with the Coalition currently holding the seat by 6.1 per cent following the redistribution of Federal WA seats.

“Six per cent is generally quite hard to achieve and a while ago was seen to be too much,” Dr Phillips said.

“But two news polls, one in January and one last week, makes Burt look competitive.”

He said preferences and ballot paper order could play a crucial role once all the candidates had been confirmed on June 9.

Dr Phillips said Labor’s Matt Keogh had a head start on Matt O’Sullivan because he had built and maintained his profile from the Canning by-election last September when he was defeated by Andrew Hastie for the re-drawn seat of Canning.

However, he said Liberal’s Matt O’Sullivan had good credentials and was seen to be a man of the people, despite his late start after former candidate Liz Storer was knocked back by the Liberal State Council.

Key political figures from both sides are visiting the Armadale and Gosnells region during the marathon campaign.

Last week Labor Transport and Infrastructure Shadow Minister Anthony Albanese announced part funding for the Armadale Bridge while leader Bill Shorten was at Armadale Hall last night for the launch of Matt Keogh’s campaign.

Other Labor heavyweights that have met locals included Tanya Plibersek, Tony Burke, Senators Penny Wong, Alex Gallagher, Glenn Sterle and Patrick Dodson, and former Armadale State MP Alannah MacTiernan.

Burt Labor campaign manager Matt Dixon said voters were pleased the southeast metropolitan region was getting its own representation in the national Parliament as well.

“In the past the advocacy for the region has failed, which can be seen by a stark need for infrastructure development in the seat now,” Mr Dixon said.

“The creation of the seat of Burt gives this area the attention it deserves on a state and national level.”

Liberal candidate Matt O’Sullivan was contacted for comment but did not respond.

But according to his Facebook page, Liberal heavyweights that have so far visited Burt included Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Senator Linda Reynolds, Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

Last Thursday Federal Communications and Arts Minister Senator Mitch Fifield attended a Business Armadale meeting to hear issues.

Whether Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull takes a stroll down Jull Street Mall remains to be seen.

Also making the contest interesting was Greens candidate Muhammad Salman.

A range of media outlets including ABC television, national universities news website UniPollWatch and Guardian Australia, as well as state and local media, has interviewed him.

“While the seat has been nominally considered LNP, the reality is that it covers suburbs with a high level of working and multicultural people who would normally be considered ALP or Greens voters,” Dr Phillips said.

“As such, with the election being forecast to be close for the two major parties, they are vying to obtain another seat to improve their balance of power in Parliament and creating additional media interest to that end.”