Two senior Liberal Party members visiting the federal electorate of Gilmore in the space of a week shows the government is worried about losing the marginal seat, Labor’s Fiona Phillips says.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in the Shoalhaven last Friday, when he toured a South Nowra chemical manufacturing business.
The PM also opened a refurbished kitchen while at the Nowra Show.
A week on, Mr Turnbull’s predecessor, Tony Abbott, will on Friday night headline a Liberal Party fundraising dinner in Batemans Bay.
The dinner, which will also feature Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis, is being hosted by the Batemans Bay and Moruya Liberal Party branches.
Seats are $55 for members and $65 for non-members, according to an invitation seen by the Mercury.
Mr Abbott will also visit a Rural Fire Service brigade and a Marine Rescue unit.
Ms Phillips, who almost beat Ms Sudmalis at last year’s federal election, said the presence of high-profile Liberal MPs in Gilmore showed she was “a threat”.
Ms Sudmalis clung onto her membership, defeating Ms Phillips by just 1503 votes.
“They’re coming to Gilmore [because] they’re worried. They are worried and so they should be,” Ms Phillips said.
“There’s people out there, particularly pensioners, who are livid at what Malcolm Turnbull has done.
“The only reason ... he’s here and Tony Abbott’s in Batemans Bay is because they’re worried about their jobs, they’re not worried about the people of Gilmore.”
Ms Phillips had attempted to ask Mr Turnbull two questions during his visit to the show – about marriage equality and pensions – but was moved away by one of the PM’s security guards.
A further attempt to get Mr Turnbull’s attention, by yelling “no politics at the show”, saw the Labor Party member turned away a second time.
“That is why they don’t want me here … they see me as a threat,” she told the Mercury following the show confrontation.
Ms Sudmalis refuted suggestion the Labor contender was seen as a threat.
“That is absolute rubbish,” the Liberal MP said. “That young woman should realise the election was held last year and she lost.
“There is no campaign on at the moment.”
Ms Sudmalis said it was “a normal action” for an MP to invite ministers to “talk directly to the people who are concerned about issues that are arising in the electorate”.
The sitting member also hit out at Ms Phillips for shifting the focus of Mr Turnbull’s visit away from “all the good things”, such as the business tour and policy discussions.
“It’s not often you can snag the Prime Minister to come to a regional seat and that went unnoticed because of the selfish actions of a single person,” she said.