Speaker in dog fight

TWO-TERM Liberal MP Michael Sutherland’s tenure is in peril, with the bookies predicting a Labor win in Mt Lawley.

At the time of going to print, Labor’s candidate Simon Millman was $1.65 and Mr Sutherland $2.05.

Mr Sutherland’s margin at the last election was about 9.6 per cent, but pundits reckon at least five per cent of that will be knocked off outright, because a lot of people at the last state election cast a protest vote against an unpopular federal Labor government led by Julia Gillard.

“If I don’t get 47 per cent of the primary vote I’ll be playing lots of tennis at the Mt Lawley Tennis Club,” Mr Sutherland says.

He says Labor’s likely to reap the benefits of smaller party preferences, with the drippings from the cabbie-backed Micro Business party likely to flow Labor’s way, along with a majority of Greens and Animal Justice Party votes.

That leaves Mr Sutherland with a sliver of the sliver of votes that the Australian Christians get—they nabbed less than one per cent of the vote in 2013.

Mr Sutherland fears if people lodge a protest vote against Liberal the seat will tip.

“Our polling says I have a very high recognition rate, and there’s a very high performance satisfaction rate. Most [voters] think I’m going to win,” he says, and that complacency might cost him.

“If enough people think ‘oh, Michael’s going to win,’ and they park a protest vote, I’ll be packing bagged lunches for Michelle,” he says, referring to his wife.

“Everyone who wants to park a protest vote in Mt Lawley has to know it’ll be more serious than they think.”

While the Liberals have copped some flak for the preference deal with One Nation, Mr Sutherland doesn’t think that’ll cut into his vote too much.

He reckons the people who’d be mad at that were probably already on Team Red or Green.

There’s no One Nation candidate in either Mt Lawley or the Perth electorate, but Perth Liberal MP Eleni Evangel says she does “not support One Nation or their policies”.

In a Facebook post she said she had “no time whatsoever for intolerance or discrimination of any form. “A significant proportion of this electorate are born overseas, or are the children of migrants, myself included.

“In this democratic nation people must be free to live according to their own beliefs regardless of where they are born, and to celebrate their ethnicity, sexuality, and religion.”

by DAVID BELL

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