Jo Carpenter and Debbie Deotto of Jaggez Hair Studio in Cooma. Photo: Jay Cronan
In the fashion stores and hairdressers of Cooma it can be hard to start a conversation about politics.
''In this shop you're not allowed to talk about politics, religion or Lindy Chamberlain,'' hairdresser Jo Carpenter said.
Even though Cooma, one of the most populous areas in the Eden-Monaro electorate, has enough voters to swing the seat one way or the other, it seems at least a few of the women working in retail are glad they are 115 kilometres away from the political negativity wafting south from Canberra.
Jane Cay the founder of online fashion store Birdsnest in her factory and store in Cooma. Photo: Jay Cronan
Fairfax Media has travelled the length and breadth of the Eden-Monaro and it is clear there is distaste for political negativity from voters who crave long-term ideas from their politicians, not just muckraking.
Jane Cay is the owner of one of Cooma's biggest successes, an online fashion powerhouse called birdsnest.com.au and she goes to great lengths to keep her political opinions to herself. ''Ultimately we sell frocks and try to put smiles on girls' faces - to bring politics into that discussion is just silly,'' she said.
Ms Cay's shop dispatches up to 1000 orders a day, mostly across Australia but also internationally, and employs more than 100 people from Cooma, a town of 7000 people.
The business is so popular at least 50,000 Australian women have given her business their body shape and other personal descriptors to access free style advice.
''It used to be all about location but we have zero foot traffic in our new showroom location - the idea that your store had to be between the two main roundabouts in town has certainly been challenged,'' she said.
In a nation full of regional towns in an economic slump, the rags to riches story was enough for incumbent Labor MP Mike Kelly to drop by and for Coalition communications and broadband spokesman Malcolm Turnbull to call in and tweet ''inspired by Jane Cay''.
Whoever wins the election, billions of dollars will be spent to upgrade telecommunications. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks Australia 24th in the world for fibre connections and, reportedly, Australia still has the second-most internet dial-up connections in the OECD.
Ms Cay does not necessarily want faster internet speed for the computers at her business.
''I'm more interested in the internet speed of my customers,'' she said. ''Enriching the digital retail experience of our customers, through video for example, is going to have the biggest impact on our business and on the opportunities of other Australian online entrepreneurs.''
In 2010, the Liberal Party won the Cooma booths by a slight margin. Any word from Ms Cay on who has the best policy - in a town where she is one of the biggest employers - could be enough to have a large bearing on the result, at least in Cooma.
Nearby, beautician Debbie Deotto said the need for emerging businesses relying on the power of new technology in places such as Cooma, like Birdsnest, was important for the town's youth.
''Most of the young ones leave,'' she said, repeating a statement heard in other regional towns in the electorate.
The quality of internet access is important across the whole electorate, particularly for regional enterprises with global reach.
A day earlier in Bombala, 90 kilometres south of Cooma, the managing director of Dongwha Timbers, Bart Crawley, said his base on the edge of town had poor ADSL and there were often drop-outs during online conferences.
''With our parent company in South Korea, they're really frustrated,'' Mr Crawley said. ''For them fast internet is just a given.''
According to last year's OECD report, almost 70 per cent of Korean broadband subscribers have fibre connections, compared with just a tiny percentage in Australia.