The election campaign endured its first bout of COVID-19 last week, with opposition leader Anthony Albanese forced into isolation at his Sydney home.
Our Pub Test Panel, though, can't be struck down.
Voices from right across the Calare electorate, the panel this week discusses what Mr Albanese's week off means for his tilt at the Prime Ministership and what, if any, advantage Independent candidate for Calare Kate Hook will get out of being drawn the number one spot on the ballot paper come May 21.
PETE MANWARING: It has advantages and disadvantages which probably equal out. It's a great opportunity to show the Party's depth of talent, Keneally, Chalmers, Wong, etc.
MATT BAYADA: The biggest obstacle the Labor party must overcome is 1) Being the Labor Party, and; 2) The leaders of the Labor Party. The best thing the Labor Party could do is be neither seen or heard. With the brand in the gutter due to their state premiers, Labor will rely on the 'Teal' Climate 200 Independent group to form government.
GAIL COPPING: It would in the sense that he can't get out and about to speak to his constituents. There are other ways to interact while isolating like social media and other media outlets. You've got to be creative to pull your audiences (and voters) in.
PM: I like Kate's value-based approach, so hopefully she'll nab some donkey votes out of it.
INGRID PEARSON: It might encourage people who aren't really thinking about the election to put 'one' next to her at the top of the ballot. With that said, the person who's last on the ballot is also easy to find.
MB: Calare and Orange have a history of giving outsiders like Peter Andren a start. The top spot will make it easy for fence sitters to go that way. With the backing of the Climate 200 group, Kate is running a great campaign and I think will be hard to stop.
STUART PEARSON: No, it's not important. The incidence of 'donkey votes' in the Calare electorate is quite low, as it was in the Bathurst local government election in December. People generally vote for who they want rather than just going 'one, two, three' straight down the ballot paper.
GC: Not particularly. Most voters know beforehand whom they will vote for and it's just a matter of looking where they are on the ballot paper. Only the voters who don't care will just start at the top of the ballot paper.
BRAYDEN JURD: Yes, because there are still the classic voters who just mark one-to-whatever down the line. I feel it gives whoever has the number one spot an advantage, not sure how much of one ... but it is still an advantage.
MACKENZIE HASTIE: Winning the number one spot can definitely be indicative of how things may go. It tends to display people's general thoughts. That being said, minds can change quickly - the human heart can be quite fickle! It's a possible sign that Bathurst has had enough of the two-party system, a sentiment I've seen all over the place.
PM: Politicians get a free ride putting up posters anywhere they like under the guise of democracy in action, therefore 'the people' are also just engaging in democracy by commenting on those posters, they're free game as far as I'm concerned.
IP: It's terrible to see campaign advertising defaced. All candidates deserve the same level of respect, regardless of whether you support their views or not.
MB: Not really, if it's a quality squiggle it will attract more attention to the sign.
SP: There are close to 100,000 voters in the Calare electorate so you can unfortunately expect one or two immature idiots to think they're doing something funny. Let's hope we don't see any more of it.
GC: Yes, it would be frustrating and upsetting that your posters are being damaged by senseless idiots. What do they honestly think they will achieve?
BJ: Yeah, in the end it is their face that's being drawn on. If you don't like the candidate you don't need to vote for them. We allow all parties and people to run in this country and they all deserve a fair chance despite what others think. That is what being part of a democracy is, a fair and equal chance for all candidates.
MH: It comes with the territory. Campaigners are allowed to feel frustrated when they see their signs scribbled on but need to be ready to accept it. Whether it's formal political warfare, informal or simple vandalism, see if they can be replaced.
PM: Given the size of the swing needed for Gee to lose, it's almost a one horse race, but hopefully people get behind someone like Hook to send a strong message that the Calare voters can't be taken for granted.
IP: I've looked at Labor's Calare votes in past elections, and they seem to have reduced over the past few years. There's certainly a mood for change across the electorate, you only have to look at the new faces that were recently elected to the Bathurst and Orange councils, and federally, independent Kate Hook is emerging as Andrew Gee's main challenger, because neither major party is really listening to the community.
MB: I suspect the role of the Labor candidate is to direct preferences to the Teal Climate 200 Candidate which is the establishment's real hope, the Labor candidate won't find much support.
SP: Labor and Shooters Fishers and Farmers accounted for around 39 per cent of the Calare vote at the 2019 election, so I think there will be around 20,000 to 25,000 votes that will be looking for a new vote at this year's election, accounting for the fact there will be no Shooters candidate and that Labor delayed the announcement of their candidate and have announced someone not well known in either Bathurst or Orange.
GC: Unless you nominate early and get your campaign up and running, most people will vote either one or the other of the major parties. If they have never heard of the candidate or if the candidate hasn't taken the time to go into the community and speak one-on-one to the voters, they won't get the vote. Being proactive on the ground can get you votes. The late Peter Andren did that when he first campaign in 1996.
BJ: You never know for sure. Labor has held this seat, so has an independent before. As for the SFF, I really don't think even with a suitable candidate that they would win, they have never held a federal seat before and I doubt Calare would be the first.
MH: We'll see if anything changes but it's looking like it might end up being a two horse race.
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