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The Battle for Braddon: Will Street Cred or Political Nous Win the Day?

Two well-rounded candidates will go head to head in Braddon, but are voters cranky enough at Labor to give the Libs another go?

Most people may not realise that Tasmanians are some of the most politically attuned voters in Australia - it seems everyone in Tassie engages with politics in some way or another.

Given constituents are highly attune to how they are being represented in Canberra, political parties have to work doubly hard to win and hold seats on the Apple Isle.

It's also why during a federal election, both major parties release a policy specifically for Tasmania.

And Tasmanians take it very personally if they think they've been dudded, which could have an acute impact on the Super Saturday by-election in Braddon.


Braddon is one of the oldest seats in the Australian Parliament, having been renamed from the original name of 'Darwin', established in 1903. Braddon takes up the entire western third of Tasmania, running north to south.

With Burnie and Davenport the largest population centres, Braddon is largely rural with a focus on agricultural primary production, especially forestry.

In the by-elections for Bennelong and New England held earlier this year, the incumbent Members, John Alexander and Barnaby Joyce were helped by voters who were sympathetic to their plight, feeling they'd been gypped by a broken constitutional conundrum.

With Shorten declaring his team was without blemish, only to find months later that four of their sitting MPs were ineligible to hold office, the sympathy vote has evaporated. This could hurt Labor on the 28th.

Braddon sits on a slim margin of 2.2%.

Justine Keay (ALP): In 2016, Justine Keay won Braddon from well-known Tasmanian Liberal, Brett Whiteley, thanks to Greens preferences. It was seen as a response to Labor's successful positioning of the Prime Minister as being out of touch, along with the 'Mediscare' campaign.

Keay hasn't had long to prove herself as a Federal representative, despite her strong street cred. A seventh generation Tasmanian, born in the Northwest, Keay worked in the media sector before returning to complete an environmental degree and a diploma in psychology. Keay worked as a staffer for State Labor Minister Bryan Green and served as an alderman for Davenport City Council until she resigned in 2016 to stand for Braddon.

She'll be fighting hard to show what she's achieved in her short time as the local MP.

Brett Whiteley (LIB): Brett Whiteley is one of the aforementioned Tasmanians who has soaked up the rays of politics for most of his career.

Whiteley started his working life as a banker before setting up a Christian training and retreat centre in the town of Sheffield which he managed for several years. Though he had worked on dozens of state and federal campaigns over the years, Whiteley cut his teeth as an elected official by serving as an alderman for Burnie City Council, before taking a seat in Tasmania's Parliament in 2002 as a Shadow Minister.

Whiteley finally received his call up to the majors in 2013, defeating long serving Braddon MP, Sid Sidebottom. Whiteley was part of the unexpected exodus at the 2016 election that almost cost Malcolm Turnbull the Lodge.

The real question is whether the voters of Braddon are cranky enough at Labor to give Whiteley another go.

Advoc8's prediction: Liberal win.

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