By ERWIN CHLANDA
Country Liberals candidate Tina MacFarlane this morning conceded the Lingiari election to long-time sitting Member, Warren Snowdon.
He is more than 800 votes ahead, with 23,364 votes in the two candidate preferred count. The declaration is expected next week. Mr Snowdon claimed victory late yesterday.
Ms MacFarlane says “the absolutely massive electorate” – more than 99% of the NT landmass – made electioneering difficult for her as a first time candidate: “They’ve known Warren for 25 years.”
She’d been on the stumps for “eight to nine months” and “I did everything I possibly could” but it was “really hard to form relationships” in that time.
Ms MacFarlane says her preselection, last November, could have been held earlier, but clearly, neither the timing of the election, the size of the electorate nor Mr Snowdon’s record should have come as a surprise to the CL planners.
She rejected suggestions by her opponents that there had been a “lack of support from our bush MLAs” although the dynamics in a Federal election are vastly different from those in a Territory poll.
She says of the holders of NT seats, “Bess, Alison, Larissa and Francis, they have all been born and bred in their regions. They’ve got a lot of connections there from when they were really young.
“Particularly Alison Anderson gave me a huge amount of support. There were insinuations that she was barracking for the other side. I absolutely discredit that assertion.”
Ms MacFarlane says the CL needs to lift its profile in the bush where Mr Snowdon won all but two of the 30 booths, so voters are not just associating with candidates but “what we stand for”.
She says there are no branches in communities such as Yuendumu and Papunya: “There is certainly that opportunity with our MLAs, if they want to head into that direction.”
While Australia turned its back on Labor, Mr Snowdon improved his showing by about 2%. Did the CL have a flurry of activity before elections but nothing is between?
“I haven’t stopped for nine months,” says Ms MacFarlane. “We had an Indigenous candidate last time [Leo Abbott]. I’d love to go back and nurture the connections I’ve made.”
Will she stand again? “I haven’t even thought about that. I have to go back to Mataranka and check if all our cows are still there.”
What should the party have done during the three years between elections?
“I don’t really have an opinion. It’s up to the members. Maybe they should look at preselection a bit earlier so the candidate can travel the electorate.”
What policies should have been put to the bush voters?
“Listening to people and reflecting on what they wanted in their communities, that they are driving the development of policies. That to me is a huge thing. It’s no one size fits all in the Territory.”
There were around 10 people at the election night party in Alice Springs. Is the CL branch here in a state of collapse?
“I think the branch is alive and well. We need to take into account that we’ve just had a Territory election [ a year ago]. People are exhausted. Branches are made up of volunteers. Everyone has to work and make a living, and business is doing it tough. People have been hurting. It’s the tourist season.”
How can the seat be won by the CL? “We underestimate the importance of a lot of our young people coming through the system. We need to connect with them, engage with them, know their issues, so we can develop good policies for the 18 to 35 age group.”
PHOTO: Warren Snowdon being interviewed by Radio 8HA at noon yesterday. He claimed victory in Lingiari late yesterday.
MacFarlane concedes in Lingiari
By ERWIN CHLANDA