Voters in Macarthur are anxious about the economy and cost of living pressures, says Labor candidate Dr Mike Freelander.
Taking a 10 minute break from handing how to vote leaflets to voters at the Ingleburn pre-poll on Wednesday, Dr Freelander told the South West Voice in Macarthur he was getting a very different feedback compared to the 2019 election campaign.
“People are really worried now because they feel insecure in their jobs and about how they will make the mortgage payments if interest rates go up more,’’ he says.
“At Gregory Hills the other day, people were also worried about what would happen to house prices if interest rates go up; they’re worried prices will crash and they will lose equity in their homes.
“One person I spoke to said she had a $1 million mortgage, and thought her house was worth $1.5m.
“Cost of living comes up a lot in this election, with locals spending up to $20 a day on tolls, fresh fruit and veggies prices rising, with the cost of everything going up,’’ Dr Freelander said.
He admits there’s also a bit of anger at politicians and agrees it’s a case of a plague on both your houses.
“We need to stop virtue signalling on issues which may be important but not as important as cost of living and the economy,’’ he says.
As a Labor MP for the past six years, Dr Freelander says there is one other thing that’s very different from the 2019 campaign.
“In ‘19 they were saying to me, we don’t like Bill Shorten, we don’t want him,’’ he explains.
“They’re not saying it now about our leader, they may be a bit uncertain about him, but they’re not saying they don’t like him.’’
Dr Freelander was first elected as the member for Macarthur in 2016, when he defeated the sitting Liberal MP and former Campbelltown mayor Russell Matheson.
He says he has no plans to retire, at least not until he’s been part of the government and delivered some critical infrastructure to the Macarthur region.
“I hope to win and go back to Canberra again, but I am really looking forward to being part of the government, so we can actually do something for our area.
“I want to be here to see Western Sydney Airport up and running, and work start on a rail link to Macarthur,’’ says Dr Freelander.
Handing out how to vote means talking to a lot of people, and not all are complimentary to him, but Dr Freelander says it’s all part of it and he doesn’t mind too much.
“Whether they like me or not I try to be nice to them,’’ he says.
A couple have been critical, asking him what he has delivered for Macarthur in the past three years, while others have engaged him on media reports he chose to live in Newtown while his house was being renovated recently.
“Yes, they have, but I don’t live in Newtown anymore, the renovations are finished; the thing is I have been here in Macarthur for 40 years as a doctor, the kids all grew up here and I am very much a part of this community,’’ says Dr Freelander.
“That’s why I want to represent it for another three years.’’