On TV coverage of election night, we’re used to seeing all the electoral maps in our part of NSW coloured either Liberal blue or Labor red.
That’s because, mathematically, it’s almost impossible for an independent to win a seat because the victor, by law, has to grab 50 per cent of the vote, plus one.
In other words, an outright majority (with or without the aid of preferences).
That’s really, really hard when the old theory goes that about 25 per cent of rusted-on loyalists ALWAYS vote Liberal (even if their party candidate is a bag of smelly cow poo). And about 25 percent of rusted-on loyalists ALWAYS vote Labor (even if the party candidate is a bucket of smelly fish).
Makes it very hard for any independent to cross the line with 50 per cent plus one.
The only time I’ve ever seen an independent coming within coo-ee of a hope was in Campbelltown in 1981 when Gordon Fetterplace ended up with 48 per cent of the vote against Labor’s Michael Knight on 52 per cent.
Amazingly close in what was then supposed to be a rock-solid Labor heartland.
But even that 48 per cent was only possible because Gordon was a very popular mayor – a genuine household name – and (crucially) the Liberals decided not to a run a candidate.
So, I can't help but be fascinated by what is happening with the March 23 election in the seats of Camden and Wollondilly, both of which should be rock-solid Liberal seats (in the last election every polling booth in both areas recorded a Lib majority). It should be a walkover.
But here we have two independents picking up traction as people turn in disgust from the main parties.
In Wollondilly, there’s former mayor Judy Hannan who is pushing back against the squished-up-housing-without-proper-infrastructure model the government is forcing into the rural shire.
In Camden, there’s local bloke Andrew Simpson, a relative unknown until last year when he helped spearhead the community fight against the planned M9 Orbital (conveniently shelved until the state and federal elections are safely over).
Everywhere I go around Camden and Wollondilly lately I hear lifelong Liberal voters I know saying they’re voting for Judy or Andrew.
The Libs have no one to blame but themselves.
In Wollondilly, local party hopefuls were sidelined as Nathaniel Smith was parachuted in from the other side of Sydney. Going by the location of some of his biggest campaign signs, I’d say local developers are thrilled.
In Camden, loyal Liberal rank and file were blocked from even nominating due to a rather sneaky ploy to install Peter Sidgreaves without facing any challengers.
In short, the same sort of arrogance and backroom deals the last Labor government was more famous for.
I don’t know if Judy and Andrew can do the impossible...but I hope they can.
Because most polls put Labor and the Coalition at 50/50 – and on election night both sides might be scrambling to form a government.
Just imagine if they had to line up to beg two independent MPs at Camden and Wollondilly for support.
I’d suggest we’d end up getting a swagload of new schools, roads...and even respect...that dumping ground doormats don’t normally get.
Perhaps we could even get new housing estates without roofs touching? Hmmm.
With polls putting the result of next month's state election as a 50/50 toss up, might local independents become kingmakers.