Capricornia's lead contenders place votes, discuss prospects
AFTER weeks of tireless campaigning, we're finally at the business end of the 2019 Federal Election with the leading candidates casting their votes around Rockhampton today.
Leading challenger Labor's Russell Robertson and the LNP's incumbent MP Michelle Landry were all smiles as they cast their votes, hoping they would be one to represent Capricornia in Australia's parliament for the next three years.
Moranbah based coal miner Mr Robertson had covered a lot of ground visiting polling booths throughout the electorate before he was joined by his wife Denise at Frenchville Primary School to lodge their votes.
Since his nomination at the start of last year, Mr Robertson has divided his time between digging coal and traversing the massive electorate, chalking up over 130,000km on the road, knocking on over 10,000 doors and making over 10,000 phone calls.
He's had strong backing from Labor Party volunteers, estimating the 'true believers' had made an additional 30,000 phone calls and knocked on 30,000 doors to further his cause.
Throughout Capricornia today, 300 ALP volunteers are manning 58 polling stations, handing out how to vote cards, desperately hoping Mr Robertson and Labor leader Bill Shorten will get over the line after the polls close.
"It's been a long journey, its been 15 months. I'm excited for election day, I'm for people to have the choice and I'll respect the decision of the voters,” Mr Robertson.
"I've enjoyed it and I hope I've made my position clear to everyone throughout Capricornia.
"It's just a waiting game now, we're letting people make the decision and we'll go from there.”
Speaking on his chances of wresting the seat from Ms Landry, Mr Robertson wasn't getting ahead of himself, saying it was "important not to be over-confident”.
"It's important to do the hard work and let the voters make the decision,” he said.
"It's about making sure you get out, and make people understand what you stand for.
"I'm a strong fighter and I won't let the electorate down if I was given the opportunity.”
Visiting Mt Archer school this morning, Ms Landry said she was feeling quite good after an extremely busy five week campaign.
"The feedback from the polling booths has been very positive and I feel that there is nothing more I could have done,” Ms Landry said.
"I have worked hard over the last 5 and a half years my office has delivered and I believe that a Morrison lead government is the best thing for this nation.
"We have brought the budget under control, this is the first surplus we have had for quite a few years and I think it's going well.”
The underdog going into the last two federal elections, she was in a different position this time as joint favourite with Mr Robertson.
"It's a very marginal seat but I've done it twice before so I am hoping for the trifecta today and I have worked extremely hard for it. It's in the hands of the voters now,” she said.
"We have a lot of support from the community so I am very hopeful that I will get over the line again and make the commitment that I will continue to deliver and fight hard for this electorate as I have done in the past.
"I feel that at a lot of the polling booths where people are taking How to Vote Cards we are certainly holding our own, and some we are certainly moving forward.”
The last week has been "fairly nerve wracking” for Ms Landry who admitted to not really knowing how things would turn out.
"I will be pleased tonight when we start getting a bit of an idea of where the polls are heading,” she said.
"There are a lot of worried people out there and I have had a lot of people come up to me and say 'Michelle, I have always voted Labor, I have never voted conservative, but I am voting for you', so I am hoping that will come true in the polls.”
Ms Landry said her team was tired and looking forward to sleep in tomorrow and had some recent challenges to overcome.
"I've had a few drama's actually. Some of my staff had an accident last night up at Nebo which is a bit of a concern and they are still in Mackay Hospital, and my son-in-law is in hospital on a drip so it has been very stressful for everyone but we will get through it,” she said.
She expressed gratitude for the help and support she'd received from from people across the electorate.
"I am very grateful for that because it is not about one person, it is about the team behind you because I can't do everything that has happened, it has been a big job,” Ms Landry said.
"Whatever the result is today, I do want to thank the people of Capricornia for putting their trust in me the last two terms. I am very hopeful I will get over the line again and I will continue to deliver and fight hard for this electorate as I have done in the past.”
She provided some clues about how she would go in opposition if she won her seat but her party lost the election.
"Look, I have thought about that and obviously that is a concern if Labor is to win but if I am to win this seat and Labor wins government, I will continue to fight and I won't back down,” she said.
"My own colleagues know that I am a fighter down in Canberra, so certainly if Labor were to win there would be no holds barred there, we would be making sure that we got as much as we possibly could for this electorate and continue with what we are doing because I think we have missed out for a long time here and I want to see Capricornia move forward more than we are already.
"We are on a cusp of a lot of success and we have some really big projects happening and I believe that we have got to continue with that. It is our time, Central and Northern Queensland.”