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Many voters in Dickson yet to decide -

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Broadcast: 07/10/2004

Many voters in Dickson yet to decide

Reporter: Peter McCutcheon

KERRY O'BRIEN: Labor's call for this campaign to be a referendum on Medicare is arguably having its
greatest impact in outer suburban seats like Dickson in Brisbane, one of three marginal seats we've
been tracking over the last six weeks.

Even Mark Latham's Medicare Gold initiative, promising free hospital care for over-75s, has some
appeal to younger families with ageing parents.

But in the final week of the campaign, it remains to be seen whether this latest twist in the
health debate will be enough to persuade the voters in Dickson.

As a classic mortgage belt seat in one of the country's fastest growing areas, Dickson is highly
sensitive to the Government's scare campaign threatening higher interest rates under Labor.

Peter McCutcheon revisited the seat of Dickson for this report.

PETER McCUTCHEON: For most of the campaign, the major political parties have been tailoring their
messages to Dickson's main demographic - young families.

But in a seat no incumbent has managed to hold, every vote is precious.

And at the Lawnton Saturday flea markets, Labor's promise of free hospital beds for people over 75
goes down very well, even if some people are sceptical of a politician's promise.

VOX POP #1: Sure it's a vote winner.

It is.

I haven't heard one 75-year-old say it's a bad idea.

VOX POP #2: Phoney answers, that's all they are.

REPORTER: Who are you going to vote for?

VOX POP #2: I'll give the new guy a go.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: And John Howard's promise of a $100 a year utilities payment for pensioners, at
least at this market, is more easily dismissed.

VOX POP #3: If he gives me $10 million I'll be happy.

VOX POP #4: We'll vote for him.

VOX POP #3: I'll vote for him.

REPORTER: You'll vote for him for 100 bucks?

VOX POP #4: No, $10 million.

He said $10 million.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Medicare Gold might not specifically be aimed at the mortgage belts of outer
suburbia but it has attracted the interest of Rob and Peta Davies, who are still making up their
minds which way to cast their votes.

PETA DAVIES: I think it affects me quite directly.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Peta Davies is a working mum who, apart from juggling work and family life, is
also concerned about her own mother's security.

PETA DAVIES: Being the only child, if anything happens to her and she approaches in her
retirement's going to reflect straight directly on my husband and myself and our position.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Medicare Gold is but one variation of a major theme that Labor's candidate for
Dickson, Craig McConnell, has relentlessly, almost single-mindedly, pursued over the past six

CRAIG McCONNELL, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR DICKSON: As I've travelled around and been doorknocking
extensively in Dickson, probably the issue that most comes to the fore is Medicare.

It's the number one issue that I've found, and we heard Mark Latham the other day say that this
election will be a referendum on saving Medicare.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: The Liberal member for Dickson, Peter Dutton, has used a number of
meet-the-candidate forums like this recent gathering at Dayborough to highlight the importance of
low interest rates and a strong economy.

PETER DUTTON, LIBERAL MEMBER FOR DICKSON: My pledge to you is that I will continue to work hard
locally and that I will continue to be a part of the Howard Government who has delivered
considerable benefits to the Australian economy over the last eight-and-a-half years, thank you.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: The most colourful diversion from this predictable campaigning has been a
protester's attempt to place the Liberal's Peter Dutton under so-called citizen's arrest for
supporting the Iraq war.

DUTTON MINDER: You had the choice of three - to sit down or be removed.

One, two, three.

PROTESTOR: I'm placing him under citizen's arrest.

DUTTON MINDER: Ken, can you remove this gentleman from the hall?

PROTESTOR: Thank you, take him with you so charges can be heard.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: But if the Iraq war isn't making much of an impression in Dickson, the latest
opinion polls suggest fears of an interest rate rise certainly is.

bulk-billing but I suspect it's going to be subsumed somewhat by the broader economic issues of
interest rates and the general costs of living.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Peta and Rob Davies are this week still trying to weigh up the promises of better
health and family friendly policies under Labor with the risk of higher interest rates.

PETA DAVIES: I am nervous.

I think, you know, John Howard is playing on the public's view of that.

ROB DAVIES: Yeah, it does worry me that it's the devil you know against the devil you don't.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Because the one question that the PM has put to the electorate through the whole
campaign is - who do you trust to keep interest rates down?

Really, when it comes down to it, who do you trust?

ROB DAVIES: Not a politician.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: After five weeks of cramming letterboxes with glossy pamphlets, both the major
parties took to the airwaves this week with State and even seat-specific advertisements.

ADVERTISEMENT: Yeah, well they've had eight years and they've done nothing.

How long do they need?

Yeah, how long do they need?

I'm sick of these Brisbane Liberals.

I'm going to send them a message on Saturday.

When you vote for Peter Dutton and Mal Brough, things get done in Dickson and Longman, like over $4
million for better local roads, nearly 3,000 work-for-the-dole places and over 2,000 new

PETER MCCUTCHEON: But local issues aside, the contest for highly mobile outer suburban electorates
like Dickson are often decided by the national debate.

For Rob Davies who says he just hasn't had the time to follow the details of the campaign it's
going to come down to general impressions of the two leaders, and this week Mark Latham is just in

ROB DAVIES: The main thing is I saw him on an interview on telly I think on Saturday morning where
he was being asked questions and he had definite answers, "Yes, I will do this," "No, I will not do

I have yet to hear John Howard say anything distinct and clear-cut as that.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: But whether it's Mark Latham's style or his policies on bulk-billing and Medicare
Gold, it's the issue of the economy and interest rates that political analysts like Paul Williams
believe will ultimately determine who will win the battle for Dickson.

PAUL WILLIAMS: Right at top of the tree for any voter in outer suburban mortgage belt seats is the
state of the economy, employment, inflation, all areas in which the Coalition Government has
performed reasonably well, and of course factored into that is the promise to keep interest rates

At the end of the day, you'd have to say that the Coalition is looking very good to hold this seat.

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