The Electoral Commission Web site today published the final Distribution of Preferences for Dubbo
Mathew Dickerson has today sent the man who will be the new Member for the Dubbo electorate, Dugald Saunders, a message to congratulate him on his victory in the seat of Dubbo and wished him all the best of luck for the next four years in representing this wonderful electorate.
Mr Dickerson knew he was taking on a gargantuan task – and is disappointed, for himself and the electorate, to fall despairingly short of his target, particularly given the positive results in Barwon, Orange, Murray and Wagga Wagga and the makeup of the Parliament.
When Mr Dickerson announced he was standing for the seat on 22 May 2018, he was taking on the National Party machine who polled 60.46 per cent of the primary vote at the 2015 election and held the seat with a margin of 20.42 per cent over a strong Country Labor (CLP) candidate who was backing up for another tilt at the seat.
Logic would dictate it was too large a hill to climb – but Mr Dickerson has forged his life on taking on challenges regardless of the difficulty and attacked the problem the only way he knew: with passion, dedication, authenticity and plain old-fashioned hard work.
Ten months of campaigning followed. Mr Dickerson travelled almost 40,000km around the 17,352.89 square kilometres of the electorate visiting people in every single one of the 131 localities. He wore out one set of tyres, two pairs of shoes and spoke with over 2,500 people in his pursuit to give people a voice. Across the electorate he was well-received and people appreciated the efforts he put into the campaign.
Mr Dickerson knew that everything had to go right on election day to negate the 20.42 per cent margin. He believed that if he could win close to 30 per cent of the primary vote and be within 10 per cent of the National Party, he would be in with a good chance of winning on preferences. This was based on analysis of other seats such as the last election in Wagga Wagga when Joe McGirr won the seat with a primary vote of 25.42 per cent and in Orange where Phil Donato won the seat with a primary vote of 23.76 per cent. Dr Kerryn Phelps recently won Wentworth with a primary vote of 29.2 per cent and to further illustrate the point, at the 2019 election, the Lismore seat was won with 25.61 per cent of the primary vote; the Ballina seat was won with 31.71 per cent of the primary vote and Barwon was won with 32.96 per cent of the primary vote.
In early voting and on election day, a massive team of 271 volunteers turned out to help Mr Dickerson attempt to deliver the seat to an Independent. “I was absolutely humbled by the amount of support I was receiving from the community. People from all locations and all walks of life were contacting me to stand at booths or volunteer at campaign offices or help in any way they could. I sincerely thank all of these people for their support, time, energy and unwavering belief in me,” said Mr Dickerson.
Mr Dickerson polled well. On election day, he won 10 of the 25 booths including seven of the eight booths in Dubbo and Wellington. Unfortunately, the losses in locations such as The Nationals heartland township of Trangie and the Mudgee PCYC and Gulgong were more than the gains in Dubbo and Wellington.
Mr Dickerson polled 28.42 per cent of the primary vote across the entire electorate. Close to his target of 30 per cent. The National Party were only 9 per cent ahead. A gap easily able to be made up with the right preference flow. An analysis of preferences shows that Mr Dickerson gained more preferences than the National Party from the Flux Party; the Australian Conservative Party and the Greens.
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (SFF) candidate polled well with 13.70 per cent of the primary vote but, with no recommended preferences, 65.85 per cent of the SFF preferences were exhausted rather than distributed. Mr Dickerson again picked up the majority of the small number of preferences from SFF voters and, before the distribution of Country Labor Party preferences, the Nationals were in front by 3,803 votes with 8,095 votes to be distributed from the CLP candidate.
Once again, the majority of the preferences flowed to Mr Dickerson with 3,052 preferences flowing to Mr Dickerson and 799 votes flowing to the National Party. Disappointingly, 52.43 per cent of people chose not to list preferences and these 4,244 votes were exhausted.
After the final washup, the Nationals Party candidate was elected with only 39.56 per cent of the electorate listing the Nationals candidate as their preferred Member – a very strong argument for compulsory preferential voting rather than the current optional preferential system.
The final electoral margin was 2.02 per cent with the two candidate preferred numbers sitting at 52.02 per cent to the Nationals and 47.98 per cent to the Independent. After any election there are many ifs and buts, particularly when the election is close. If only Mr Dickerson had not lost so many votes in Trangie and Gulgong; if only Mr Dickerson performed better at Mudgee and Dubbo Early Voting; if only more people had followed the CLP How to Vote card; if only the SFF had listed preferences.
Although disappointed with the final result, rather than crying over spilt milk, Mr Dickerson looks to the positives from the election. “The seat was formerly considered very safe with a 20.42 per cent margin and was easy for the Government to ignore. We now have the 3rd most marginal seat in Government at 2.02 per cent and this should result in additional attention being paid to this seat. The Government understands that it can’t ignore a seat where residents have shown they will vote on the issues,” said a typically positive Mr Dickerson.
One of the comments that Mr Dickerson continually heard as he travelled the electorate was that people were sick and tired of the standard negative campaigning of the big parties and the internal focus of candidates on the party rather than the electorate.
Throughout the campaign, Mr Dickerson refused to engage in muckraking or publicly insulting his opponents. Instead, Mr Dickerson continued to focus on the positives that he could achieve for the electorate if elected. Despite the fact that his opponents continued to focus on spurious complaints to the electoral commission and accusations of illegal spending and continual negativity directed at Mr Dickerson, Mr Dickerson focused on how he could make a positive difference in the electorate. He promised to put a moratorium on CSG; deliver 24-hour Police Stations to Wellington and Narromine; deliver a Drug Court and associated support services to Dubbo; develop better solutions for use of water in the region; add health services at Mudgee Hospital; deliver hospital car-parking solutions for Dubbo Hospital; reduce power bills with an emphasis on network charges; deliver regional payroll tax exemptions; solve the River Street bridge problem; get our fair share of the Restart NSW fund and much more. Essentially, focus on what this electorate wanted and needed. Mr Dickerson hopes that residents will continue to lobby their new Member for these issues that are important to them.
“Thank you to all of the wonderful support given to me by the wider community and I can assure residents I worked incredibly hard to deliver the right result. Unfortunately, I fell just short,” finished Mr Dickerson.
Mr Dickerson will continue to work on his business interests and contribute to the community with his ongoing community involvement in committees and service clubs as he has done for his entire life.