11 June 2016
by Lucille Keen
Jamie Briggs has 'given up' on Mayo
Former Minister Jamie Briggs is facing losing his safe Liberal seat with worried Liberals claiming he has all but 'given up'.
Senior Liberal sources said Mr Briggs was nervous about the election, with one claiming he was resigned to the fact he wouldn't win.
A ReachTEL opinion poll for the left-wing activist group GetUp! found less than 40 per cent of Mayo voters intended to vote for Mr Briggs.
But Mr Briggs vehemently denied the claim and said it was "scurrilous gossip" that was "completely untrue".
His biggest threat comes from a former staffer, Rebekha Sharkie, who is running for the Nick Xenophon Team.
Ms Sharkie is well known at a local level and previously worked for Mr Briggs and local state MP and former Leader of the Opposition, Isobel Redmond.
Earlier this week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited the electorate and promised funding for a sports hub in Mount Barker. Former Prime Minister John Howard also visited Mayo this week.
Mayo has been a safe Liberal seat for decades. It narrowly came under threat in the 1998 election when the then Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer was challenged by Australian Democrats leader Meg Lees' chief of staff, John Schumann.
Mr Schumann won 22.4 per cent of the primary vote to Mr Downer's 45.6 per cent and the seat ended up coming down to preferences.
Mr Briggs was forced to resign from his cabinet position late last year following an incident with a public servant on a trip to Hong Kong.
On Friday, he was optimistic he could win the seat.
He said the biggest issue that people raised with him was who had the best plan for jobs and growth.
"That is clearly Malcolm Turnbull and our plan," Mr Briggs said.
"A vote for anyone else risks a return to the chaos of Labor, Greens and Independents with Bill Shorten as Prime Minister."
Ms Sharkie is focusing her campaign on the lack of infrastructure spending in the rapidly growing regions in the seat, such as Mount Barker and Victor Harbor.
"Mayo is a safe blue ribbon seat and, in my view, safe seats don't count. We are lacking in road, public transport and health infrastructure," she said, adding that her campaign was already starting to be making a difference.
"We have never had a sitting prime minister come and visit during an election campaign. This campaign we have greeted Malcolm Turnbull and John Howard. Perhaps we are starting to matter?"