Durack ‘underdog’ Jeremiah Riley not ready to admit defeat until votes counted

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Former Kimberley MP Carol Martin, Labor candidate for Durack Jeremiah Riley, current Kimberley MP Divina D'Anna and former State treasurer Ben Wyatt.
Camera IconFormer Kimberley MP Carol Martin, Labor candidate for Durack Jeremiah Riley, current Kimberley MP Divina D'Anna and former State treasurer Ben Wyatt. Credit: Phoebe Pin/Geraldton Guardian/RegionalHUB

Labor candidate for Durack Jeremiah Riley has clocked about 10,000km on the odometer in the lead-up to the Federal election, with the Yamatji man saying there was a strong “mood for change” across the electorate.

Broome-based Mr Riley has lived out of a suitcase for much of the campaign, visiting about 100 locations across the second largest electorate in the world.

He said it was important for constituents to feel confident he would represent the diverse needs of Durack if elected.

“I want to prove and demonstrate that I have the capacity to travel all over Australia’s largest electorate,” he said.

“I have been warmly welcomed throughout the electorate even throughout the Liberal and National heartlands, which was a bit of a surprise because I thought there would be more resistance.

“The good people of Durack feel like they have been taken for granted . . . I think people are sick of the current Federal Government and they want to see change.”

His advocacy for a radiation therapy unit in Geraldton has been a prominent feature of his campaign, with Mr Riley saying it was disappointing nothing had been done to bring the infrastructure to the Mid West since the Federal Government announced its $9 million contribution to the project in 2019.

“Unfortunately, I can’t put a hard election promise on the table, but I will continue to advocate strongly for the radiation therapy unit if I am elected,” he said.

“I think it is hard enough people have to face radiation therapy at all, without also having to leave their hometown.”

Labor's Durack candidate Jeremiah Riley has visited about 100 locations across the electorate during the campaign.
Camera IconLabor's Durack candidate Jeremiah Riley has visited about 100 locations across the electorate during the campaign. Credit: Courtesy Jeremiah Riley

Durack incumbent Melissa Price won the electorate in 2013, with the Liberal Party now holding the seat with a 13.5 per cent margin.

Mr Riley is not ignorant to the odds of a Labor candidate claiming victory over such a safe Liberal seat, but he said this has not stopped him from campaigning to win.

“I know I am the underdog and that has kept me motivated during the campaign. I have put my heart and soul into this campaign and I know there is a mood for change,” he said.

“I have been campaigning from mid-January to now and I am not going to stop until 6pm on Saturday (when polls close).

“Whatever happens after that, I will know I have given it my best shot.”

Given Labor’s popularity at a State-level across the electorate, Mr Riley said he would not be surprised to see a swing against the Liberal Party on election night.

“I think the State team have worked with the a strong leadership of Mark McGowan to keep people safe during the COVID pandemic, and people recognise that,” he said.

“People want a Federal Government that will work in partnership with our State Government, instead of one that tears us down.”

He said the biggest issues expected to sway constituent votes in Durack were labour and housing shortages across the electorate, limited childcare availability, access to aged-care services, mental health support, tackling youth crime, and improving telecommunications and power supply.

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