Editorial: danger for Coalition
THERE is talk getting about that Paul Neville is under some internal pressure from his own party to keep his federal seat of Hinkler.
This begs the question as to why.
Mr Neville has been in parliament for almost 20 years - clearly he has the support and the trust of his electorate.
While his office is in Bundaberg, he has maintained a steady presence in Hervey Bay, and has brought a number of high-profile Coalition senators to the Fraser Coast for community forums this year, such as veteran's affairs, or aged care.
It seems the faceless powerbrokers who are behind the whisperings to replace Mr Neville with one of his potential challengers are forgetting the importance of stability in politics.
While most people still think the ALP will be ousted from office at the next federal election, the polls have been narrowing across the nation recently, meaning the Coalition should not take safe seats like Hinkler for granted.
With Mr Neville in a prime position to take his seat in parliament beyond two decades, unnecessary tinkering from his own party in putting up an unknown replacement might just be the destabilising influence to cause a backlash from voters who have supported him all those years.
Mr Neville has confirmed that two of his challengers come from Hervey Bay.
While an MP from the Bay might indeed be better placed to represent an electorate which also includes Howard, Torbanlea, Burrum Heads and Toogoom, the point remains that a party should think very, very carefully before casting aside 20 years of experience when it comes to winning elections, as Mr Neville has done in 1993, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010.
There is a certain parochial attraction to the idea of a local Hervey Bay MP sitting in Federal Parliament, to complement Warren Truss in Maryborough.
The argument would be that it certainly couldn't hurt the Fraser Coast region as a whole to have two MPs, rather than one, with another who visits from Bundaberg.
Last time I checked, though, the Federal Coalition was more concerned about winning the election than in the geographic divisions within electorates.