Fraser could romp home for Nationals

By BELINDA F SCOTT

ANDREW Fraser will romp home on March 24, according to an opinion poll conducted exclusively for the Coffs Coast Advocate by Jetty Research.

The phone poll of 417 Coffs Harbour voters, conducted by the new Coffs Harbour-based polling and market research firm, gives the sitting National party member 49 per cent of already-decided voters, well ahead of the Labor Party's David Kennedy on 30 per cent with daylight between the front runners and Independent Keith Rhoades on 12 per cent.

The only encouragement for Mr Rhoades was the 34 per cent of respondents who did not nominate a candidate or were yet to decide.

The Greens' Rodney Degens polled 5.5 per cent and Christian Democrat Deborah Lions 3.6 per cent.

Once preferences from the Christian Democrats and the Greens were allocated, the Nationals sat on 55 per cent of declared voters, followed by Labor 32 per cent and Cr Rhoades 13 per cent.

The principal of Jetty Research, James Parker, said respondents were also asked if the proposed harbour foreshore plan had influenced their vote and 32 per cent of voters said it had, including 34 per cent of Fraser voters and 38 per cent of the undeclared voters, but only 19 per cent of Rhoades supporters.

Mr Parker said he had allowed a six per cent margin for error because of the high number of undecided voters, but the figures still showed Mr Rhoades had a monumental task ahead this week to win the seat.

Mr Rhoades said he was a little surprised by the poll results since the 1000-person poll he had commissioned four months ago had shown he was only three percentage points behind Mr Fraser on a two-person preferred basis, but he hoped to pick up a 'big slice' of the undecided voters.

Mr Fraser said yesterday he did not take anything for granted and he would 'keep going flat out' until the election, but would stand on his record.

The Labor Party's David Kennedy said it was a small poll sample, but he had always accepted he was the underdog and faced an uphill battle, so the poll was a heartening sign that the Labor Party was starting to shift the seat away from being a safe National Party stronghold.

Keith Rhoades and Andrew Fraser yesterday accused each other of changing their stance on Jetty planning, charges denied by both.

Mr Rhoades said the poll had been conducted 'in a period of hype over the hijacking of the Jetty foreshore issue' by the National Party member, who had earlier told senior council staff he saw no major concerns with the proposed harbourside plan. Mr Rhoades said his own stance on the Jetty plan had not changed since 2003.

Mr Fraser said he had never supported the sale of open space at the Jetty and questioned why council plans for a possible multimillion dollar development of facilities at Boambee Beach had not been included in the Harbourside concept plan.



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