Trawler skipper Andrew Wintle in Bermagui checks over the boat before heading out to sea. Photo: Jay Cronan
It is hard to find a trawlerman in Bermagui these days, but on a cold, dark night on the water the last skipper standing in this town delivers his verdict.
''Labor's had its chance,'' said Andrew Wintle, a man watching the extinction of his industry aged just 33. ''They just keep making it hard for us. There are less grounds to fish in. I'll vote Liberal.''
Labor stinks like a rotten fish on the wharves, but there is a catch: Labor MP Mike Kelly is popular; almost everyone says he has been hard on the hustings. There is even talk he will hold his seat as Labor loses the election, to break Eden-Monaro's 40-year reign as Australia's longest-standing bellwether seat.
Jane Cay the founder of online fashion store Birdsnest in her factory and store in Cooma. Photo: Jay Cronan
Bermagui Fishermen's Co-op chairman Rocky Lagana is backing Dr Kelly because, he said, the MP had often visited in the past three years and asked what was needed.
Despite this, fifth-generation Eden fisherman and longtime Labor voter Gary Warren said he would shut down his trawler if Labor won the election. His family started in the town by harpooning whales a century ago.
The yearly refrigerant cost for his boat has increased from $3000 to $30,000 because of a carbon tax-related levy.
He also is angry the super trawler Abel Tasman was stopped from fishing in Australian waters. The decision meant Mr Warren missed out on making $76,000 from the fishing quota he had leased the factory ship, because of what he saw as cheap emotive politics.
''[The super trawler] was the most environmentally friendly boat you could imagine,'' he said.
Keith Appleby, Bermagui's last charter boat owner-operator, seeing the least number of customers in 30 years even though there is less competition than ever before, will not vote Labor either.
''I'm thinking about voting Liberal but the state Libs are crucifying this industry by trying to more than halve the catch limits,'' he said. ''Why would you come all the way here just to catch five snapper?'' Fishermen had in the past ''raped and pillaged'' the ocean but he believes the thinking now has moved too far the other way.
When Roy Babidge, netting on Corunna Lake almost midway between Narooma and Bermagui, was asked what he was going to do with his ballot, he sniffed, kept rolling his cigarette and said ''wipe my arse with it''.
He and partner Doug Neville had just switched their radio off because the voices of Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott were invading their boat.
Mr Babidge, one of a dwindling number of estuary fishermen and now in his 60s, will donkey vote in protest against what he sees as the degradation of his industry. ''Send [the Sydney markets] blackfish and you get nothing for them, you're lucky to get $2 a kilogram. Sometimes you get a yellow slip saying they've donated them to Taronga Zoo to feed the bears.''