Peter Costantini OAM, Managing Director
A journey into the wilderness can be a blessing or a curse, depending on whether you are a perambulator or a politician.
I was lucky recently to enjoy a six-day hike along the Larapinta Trail, winding through parts of the West MacDonnell ranges near Alice Springs, which afforded time for much personal reflection.
At the same time, the Federal Coalition was taking a much less enjoyable journey into the political wilderness after nine years in government.
Congratulations to Prime Minister the Hon Anthony Albanese and his team for last weekend’s election win.
It was an extraordinary election. The major parties suffered badly in their primary votes and we witnessed the rise of independents and the Greens, who successfully campaigned on a small number of emotive issues. The outcome shows how increasingly hard it is for the major parties to campaign responsibly across the main areas of Government accountability.
My hike along the Larapinta, during the election campaign and surrounded by the vastness of that country, prompted me to consider just how difficult it is to govern in the interests of all Australians.
The enormity of the West MacDonnell Ranges region (39,000 km2) pales when compared with the size of the electorate in which it resides. Lingiari covers some 1,348,000 km2
and is our second-largest electorate behind Durack in Western Australia. ALP candidate Marion Scrymgour seems likely to win Lingiari in what is still a close contest relying on postal votes. The ALP’s Malarndirri McCarthy retains her Senate seat and is joined by newcomer Jacinta Price (CLP).
Most Australians are interested (and reasonably united) behind the need for ongoing improvements in healthcare, education, living standards, the environment and even national security. But the enormity of electorates such as Lingiari (NT), Durack (1.38m km2 - WA) O’Connor (1.13m km2 - WA), Grey (0.91m km2 - SA), Maranoa (0.73m km2 - Qld) and Kennedy (0.57m km2 - Qld) bring home just how difficult it is to tackle the very important issues for local communities. By comparison, Wentworth in Sydney is 38 km2, Goldstein in Melbourne is 51 km2 and Griffith in Brisbane is 57 km2 – all seats that changed hands during the election.
How the major parties reconcile the distinct challenges of winning at the same time Lingiari and Griffith, or Maranoa and Brisbane, will continue to challenge the traditional major party system we have had for generations.