By Gary Warner
An election can be won or lost by preferences in Australia’s electoral system, so Nationals candidate Shane Van Styn will be hoping Labor voters don’t follow the card.
Labor announced last night that its how-to-vote card in the Durack electorate will direct preferences to Liberal Party candidate Melissa Price, ahead of Mr Van Styn.
It was revealed by ALP state secretary Simon Mead that the same preferences would apply in the electorate of O’Connor.
“Our view is that the National and Liberal parties are all the same and there is absolutely no difference,” said Mr Mead.
“We had to toss up local factors in each case and in the end, it wasn’t a very hard decision.”
It may, however, be a confusing one for dyed-in-the-wool Labor supporters who traditionally view the Liberal Party as ‘the enemy’.
Describing the ALP announcement as “a bit of a shock”, Mr Van Styn said both major parties were clearly intent on denying a voice to regional Australia.
His high local profile might persuade Labor supporters to ignore their party’s how-to-vote card in the huge Durack electorate which, in the hands of retiring member Barry Haase, was a very safe Liberal seat with a margin of 13.7%.
Mr Van Styn and ALP candidate Daron Keogh were both considered to be outside chances until the resignation of Mr Haase, and his replacement as Liberal candidate by Perth-based lawyer Ms Price.
Her lack of established local support was seen as boosting Mr Van Styn’s chances, but Labor’s preference decision has thrown the cat in amongst the pigeons.