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Local Issues As An Influence On Voting Behaviour

Local issues may be strong enough to swing votes in elections. This is particularly true of State elections, but can also apply to Federal elections.

However, electoral behaviour tends to more uniform than many people think, so it is wise not to over-estimate this factor. In most elections, the state- or nation-wide swing is generally fairly consistent, but variations do occur, especially between states.

Local issues may swing some votes but whether this is decisive is open to question.

Some recent examples:


  • Mildura – the issue of cuts to services, particularly the closure of the Mildura to Melbourne railway line (the “Vinelander”) appears to have contributed to the Liberal Party losing the Mildura electorate in 1996. The seat was won by independent Russell Savage and retained by him in 1999.
  • Gippsland East – restoring the flow of water from to the Snowy River was the issue that propelled independent candidate Craig Ingram into the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 1999. Ingram defeated the National Party in a seat it had held since its creation.


  • Richmond – National Party minister Larry Anthony, the member for Richmond in NSW, the seat held by his father and grandfather before him, was under pressure in 2000 over the imposition of the GST on caravan park rents. Anthony has a majority of 0.77% (253 votes) in the electorate and there are 6649 residents who live in caravan parks. Caravan and mobile home residents will face a 5.5% increase in their rents, while house rentals are exempt from the GST. Anthony came under pressure to persuade the Cabinet to exempt caravan owners or resign his position.
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Malcolm Farnsworth
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