Why the major parties forgot about the Maranoa
MARANOA is the largest federal electorate in Queensland but looks to be all but snubbed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in the lead-up to the May 18 election.
Maranoa MP David Littleproud told the Western Star residents living anywhere between Kingaroy and the Northern Territory border shouldn't expect a visit from Mr Morrison before then.
Labor is also unlikely to send Mr Shorten to LNP heartland.
Larger than some European countries, Maranoa has been an LNP-stronghold for decades, with political leaders and strategists assuming how the votes will go.
Despite Mr Littleproud insisting the Maranoa electorate is not a safe seat, political expert University of Queensland Political Science and International Studies Professor Chris Salisbury said statistics showed otherwise.
In 2016, the LNP won Maranoa with a 15.9 per cent margin.
"Maranoa has been won by the National/Country Party at all but one election since 1921 (when it was the first federal Queensland seat won by the Country Party, at a by-election) and held more or less comfortably by LNP/NP/CP MPs since 1951 - 68 years in fact," Prof Salisbury said.
"David Littleproud won the seat at his first attempt with just short of half (49.2 per cent) of the primary vote.
"In fact, this was the first time since 1998, and only the fourth time in the prior 60 years, that the LNP/National primary vote had fallen below 50 per cent, so the major conservative party has a very strong and long-entrenched support base in this seat.
"I expect the LNP to safely hold this seat."
With time running out ahead of the election next Saturday, Mr Shorten is unlikely to spend his time trying to convince dyed in the wool National supporters to vote Labor.
The last time Mr Shorten made an appearance in the Maranoa was at Longreach in August 2018.
Mr Littleproud said the Prime Minister would instead focus on meeting voters and making promises in marginal seats during the last nine days of the campaign.
"I'm struggling to get back for as many days as I possibly can for the election so I think it will also be difficult for the Prime Minister," he said.
"I'm not going to raise expectations for other people but I think it is unlikely that we will get a visit before May 18.
"It's a big country and the reality is you've got to spread yourself across as much as the state as you possibly can.
"That's why you don't just wait for election campaigns to do the leg work and why we've had four previous prime ministerial visits since I was elected."
Prof Salisbury said Mr Littleproud's suggestions he could be "at risk" of losing was overplaying the "underdog" tag.
"Even assuming an expected anti-government general swing, and party insiders would expect to retain this seat. So in that case, it's not overly surprising that the Prime Minister will want to devote more attention to seats on much tighter margins than Maranoa," Prof Salisbury said.
"This region has offered slim returns for Labor.
"Labor's primary vote in Maranoa over the last 30 - 40 years is on average roughly 15 per cent below the Nationals' vote."
DO you think being a safe seat has hindered growth in the Maranoa? Let us know at editorial@ westernstarnews.com.