ACT News

License article

Goulburn's Pru Goward braces for a huge hit at NSW poll

NSW Planning Minister Pru Goward is braced for a big swing against her in her electorate of Goulburn at the NSW poll on March 28.

ABC electorate analyst Antony Green says that on paper Goulburn - held by the Liberals by a 26.8 per cent swing - should not be at risk, but it promises to be a closer and more vigorous contest than the margin suggests. The boundary redistribution has shifted the seat west of Goulburn to take in traditional National Party territory. 

Mr Green said the National Party was talked out of contesting the seat and the Labor Party was trying to capitalise by nominating former Labor senator and NSW party president Ursula Stephens.

Ms Goward says the major correction will be due to her having won by only a narrow margin of 900 votes in 2007, and having had no serious Labor opponent at the poll four years later. Consequently, that comfortable margin would go at this poll.

"No, I think there will be a huge swipe. This seat has never been held by more than 5 or 6 per cent by Liberal/Nationals," Ms Goward said.

Additional health funding for Yass, Goulburn and Moss Vale would be announced later this week and, rather than having anything to do with the seat becoming more marginal, Ms Goward said it would be "the right thing to do".


"The beauty of having managed the money for the last four years, and we are leading the country in economic growth, we have a housing boom that of course is generating tremendous stamp duty revenue, so our revenue is back in the black and that has enabled us to make spending commitments that we otherwise would not be able to do."

Ms Goward said Goulburn had waited patiently for important upgrades.

But Dr Stephens believes the health announcement is coming now because the margin no longer looks as comfortable.

"The [Goulburn] hospital is a disgrace and has not been on the radar until this election campaign. We are anticipating some grand announcement this week about a new hospital for Goulburn," Dr Stephens said.

"Right up to now [the NSW Government] have announced where they are spending their health money and Goulburn has not been factored into those figures to date. If they announce it, we will welcome it, but will want to know how it will be paid for," she said.

Another key issue was rail. Dr Stephens said a change to the railway timetable in 2014 disadvantaged everyone beyond Moss Vale. "There has to be some fairness, and you have to have someone advocating for the whole of the electorate, and that is what we haven't had."

The bellwether electorate of Monaro, which the Nationals hold with a 2 per cent margin, will be tightly contested. Member for Monaro and Minister for Regional Tourism John Barilaro has announced $12 million to boost tourism and major events in the Monaro region if re-elected.

A spokeswoman said Mr Barilaro's other big-ticket items would be announced from this week. Labor candidate for Monaro Steve Whan, who Mr Barilaro un-seated at the last poll, says the Coalition will be promising the proceeds from privatisation of poles and wires in various parts of the state. He says Labor will have a significant capital program which it can fund without privatisation.

Mr Whan, who has promised an ambulance station for Bungendore and a $5-million expansion of Cooma Hospital's emergency department, said bigger commitments would likely come earlier at this campaign because of pre-poll voting.