At elections Eden Monaro is known as Australia’s ‘bellwhether’ seat – meaning that whichever party wins Eden Monaro, wins government – and so it has been in the 17 elections since 1972 when Gough Whitlam was swept into office.
The term ‘bellwhether’ comes from a sheep herding practice of choosing a castrated ram to lead the flock and tying a bell around its neck so even in the dark or out of sight over the hill, the shepherds knew which path the flock was heading down.
The Eden Monaro population is also pretty representative of the people who make up this wide brown land. There are urban battlers and public servants in Queenstown, regional farmers and coastal fishing communities as well as our community in the Snowy Mountains.
Labor had a strong candidate in sitting member, Mike Kelly, but the 4.4 predicted swing against Labor still happened. At the time of writing (with 74 of 84 booths counted and still postal votes to be tallied) Liberal, Peter Hendy, did well on first preferences with pretty much 34,000 to Kelly’s 29,000 – but with 5000 Greens preference, the race got a lot tighter. It’s looking like 50.2% to Liberal and 49.8% to Labor and that it will come down to a couple of hundred votes… but a win is a win and it looks like the bell will toll with tradition.