Australians often complain that Federal Elections have become too presidential, but the reality is the national Government is formed as a result of 150 contests fought out in individual electorates. In some cases the final result across the nation is decided by just a few thousand voters, clustered in a handful of marginal electorates.
In 2010, less than 2,000 votes in two key electorates cost Tony Abbott the election.
This week Four Corners goes on the campaign trail, taking a fly-on-the-wall look at two seats that will be crucial in deciding who wins Government this time around. One is the Queensland inner-city electorate of Brisbane. The other is Lindsay in the west of Sydney. Brisbane, with its high-density, cosmopolitan population, should be a shoo-in for Labor but is currently held by the Liberals. Lindsay, on the other hand, could easily have been won by the Coalition in the last election but, against the odds, Labor hung on by less than 2,000 votes.
Travelling at the shoulder of the candidates we see the Federal Election through the prism of grassroots politics. Riding with the candidates and talking to voters, we see the highs and lows of electioneering. We witness policy u-turns, emotional explosions and those awkward moments when a word or two delivered without thinking could spell electoral disaster.
Both Brisbane and Lindsay tell a different part of the Australian political story. Both seats have very different populations and, as Four Cornersfound out, both respond to very different issues. The seats do have one thing in common, however: the contest in each is intense. Both parties know they must be won and that every vote cast will matter.
NO MARGIN FOR ERROR, reported by Janine Cohen and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 2ndSeptember at 8.30pm on ABC1. It is replayed on Tuesday 3rdSeptember at 11.35pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview (abc.net.au/iview) or atabc.net.au/4corners.