Dickson a window into election fate

Two former Labor MPs are expecting a change in their old electorate

Michael Lavarch and Cheryl Kernot were Labor representatives in Dickson and are both tipping that sitting MP Peter Dutton will be ousted. Drew Beveridge spoke to the former MPs to get their predictions on the election.

Who do you think will win?

Michael Lavarch, who held Dickson from 1993-96, says he senses a change in Government.

Michael Lavarch: I’d like Ali France, the Labor candidate, to win the seat. I think she’s got a fairly good chance of winning. Queensland is a swayed seat in the way it changes hand. If you believe the opinion polls at the moment, then I think it’s a pretty reasonable chance that Ali France will win the seat. My sense is there is going to be a change in government.

Cheryl Kernot: I’d like to see the Member for Dickson changed. Realistically, the one with the largest chance is Ali France. Given Peter Dutton’s reduced support, it won’t just be a change of hands, it will be a backlash in the rejection of his policies. It’s still between the two major parties, but we will definitely see a change of hands in the nation.

How well do you think Peter Dutton has served the electorate?

Michael Lavarch: He doesn’t hold [the seat] by much but he campaigns fiercely. I don’t think he’s been a terribly good presence in the Australian political landscape – he’s very conservative. He’s very negative about taking any action about climate change and he’s really been on the whole quite disgraceful in the way he’s endeavoured to demonise migrants and asylum seekers. He plays in the dark side of politics more than the light and my criticism of him is that he’s quite a destructive force within the frame of Australian politics.

Cheryl Kernot: That Member tried to ditch the electorate – he went down to the Gold Coast and tried to get pre-selection there, but the local members there rejected him, so he had to go back with his tail between his legs. The detention policies, his building of his border force empire, and just the way he conducts himself in politics – it’s the nastiness and the authoritarian streak he seems to have. I think a different member would more accurately reflect the people of Dickson as their representative.

For a timeline of the MPs of Dickson, click here

Michael Lavarch and Cheryl Kernot both represented Dickson

What is your advice for the next MP?

Michael Lavarch: The most important thing is to always understand that it’s a great honour to serve the people. You’ve always got to listen to people, and understand people’s concerns, and sometimes take a decision against one’s self interest. Be connected to your local community – go to local events and school speech nights – you need to understand the people and their aspirations.

Cheryl Kernot: Dickson was very hard work. By the time you go to all the Neighbourhood Watch meetings and community event meetings you could be out all seven days and seven nights of the week. [Ali France] has been very visible in campaigning and garnering support. I think she’s done very well – it would be a bit gratuitous of me to give her advice I think.

Tony Smith was the Liberal MP for the electorate from 1996 before losing support and running as an Independent in his failed 1998 campaign. He was unable to be contacted and, therefore, this article shares only Labor opinion.

Have your say – who do you think will win?