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  • Safe seat likely to stay Labor

    2018 - 07.03

    Sonia Hornery.THE state seat of Wallsend has only ever been held by the Labor Party, and barring something remarkable, that is unlikely to change on Saturday.

    Incumbent Sonia Hornery is only the third member of parliament to have sat in the safe seat in its 47-year history.

    It is held with a margin of 6.3per cent, the result of a smaller-than-state-average 9.2per cent swing against the Labor Party in 2011.

    Ms Hornery, the shadow minister for science and medical research, for the arts, and for the Hunter, is a former community support worker and teacher who entered the parliament in 2007.

    Her opponent from the Liberal Party is Hannah Eves, a 22-year-old law student at the University of Newcastle.

    Standing for the Greens is Aleona Swegen, a 27-year-old post-graduate researcher and former vet.

    Damien Cotton, a musician, is the Christian Democratic Party candidate and Tony Di Cosmo is the No Land Tax candidate.

    The heavily contested seats of Newcastle, Maitland and Port Stephens have seen both parties throwing significant funding commitments around like confetti, but Wallsend has struggled to attract the same attention.

    The area’s major infrastructure issue is the Glendale Interchange, the linchpin of Glendale’s proposed expansion. In October, when John Robertson was still opposition leader, state Labor committed $39million to completing stage one of the interchange within its first term if it won power and since then new leader Luke Foley has recommitted to the promise.

    And while both state and federal governments have contributed money to roadworks for the project, the state government has made no commitment to railway and bus stations – crucial aspects of the interchange, which will cost tens of millions more.

    Ms Hornery said making sure voters didn’t think Labor was taking the seat for granted meant ‘‘continually reminding the government’’ about the seat’s priorities.

    ‘‘Telling the government in parliament that we want the Glendale Interchange, through speeches, notices of motion, making sure they know the people of Wallsend are paying attention,’’ she said.

    Ms Eves, who was only nominated in February, said she wanted to be a ‘‘strong voice for Wallsend and focus on issues’’.

    She pointed to the government’s $18million commitment to complete an upgrade of the neonatal intensive care unit at John Hunter Hospital and funding for the inner-city bypass.

    Ms Swegen, who lives in Hamilton but says she spends ‘‘most of my waking life’’ working at Callaghan in her role as a researcher, said working pre-poll and from speaking to people all the time, voters had drummed home how important jobs were to the electorate.

    ‘‘It’s the biggest thing for us – sustainable industries that are locally owned,’’ Ms Swegen said.

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