Opinion by Phil Jarratt
While the storm and tempest raged all around us last Saturday night, taking the power out in a lot of places, nothing could put out Sandy Bolton’s shining light as she trounced the field and increased her already impressive majority.
At around 9pm the veteran ABC psephologist Antony Green cast his learned eye over South East Queensland seats and declared “huge gains for Labor in Noosa and the Sunshine Coast”. Well, not quite.
Certainly it was Labor’s night across the broader region, with a couple of surprise pickups in Caloundra and Pumicestone, but here in Noosa, Mark Denham once again took one for the team, failing to better his 2017 result after what can only be described as a lacklustre campaign. This was an interesting result in a poll where Labor fared well wherever they ran an energetic campaign, even if it didn’t get them over the line.
A case in point being Burleigh, where former surf champ Rabbit Bartholomew gave sitting LNP member Michael Hart a great fight, considering the former’s complete lack of political experience and the latter’s decent track record as a local member. Whether it was the Covid times favouring the incumbent, or the failure of the LNP to enthuse us with new ideas as opposed to tired rhetoric, the wind was blowing Labor’s way, even in Townsville where the thinly-disguised racism of a youth curfew didn’t wash with the electorate.
But in Noosa, no matter which way the state-wide tide was pulling, nothing could blunt the force of Cyclone Sandy. Certainly not the LNP, whose media and mail-drop campaign to paint the independent as a Labor stooge, seen in this paper twice, did no favours for James Blevin, who had shown promise until he had to defend the indefensible, and was rightly carved up like so much boerewors by Annie Gaffney on ABC Coast FM. But James is young and pretty smart, and may rise again.
As for Sandy, what can you say about a gal who gives it everything she’s got? Even people who don’t particularly like her position on some issues, invariably admire her never-ending efforts to achieve community consensus and present the Noosa view to parliament. And even in a one-house parliament, the power of an independent with 65 percent of the vote cannot be ignored. Contrary to what the party hacks tell you, she has the power to deliver better results for Noosa than either of the majors.
Since it was created in 1992, and long before, when it was part of Cooroora, Noosa has been a safe LNP seat, with a couple of brief Labor hiccups. And even though the demographic has changed considerably, you would expect conservatism to still hold sway. But then along came Sandy, unseating a good local LNP member in 2017, despite his commitment to de-amalgamation, and increasing her majority in 2020 through sheer hard work and commitment to her electorate.
The problem for the major parties here is not just Sandy’s ball of energy. It’s that in Noosa enough people look beyond the hype and seek out real values in a candidate. That’s why it might be Annastacia’s Queensland, but it’s Sandy’s Noosa.