MONDAY night's Mallee Rally in Horsham was missing something.
Four election candidates did not show the Australian Sex Party's Amy Mulcahy, Family First candidate Neil Buller, Michael Coldham from the Country Alliance and Jane MacAllister from the Greens, although Senate Greens candidate Ian Christoe filled in for her.
But someone much more important was missing: Mallee voters. About 90,000 people are eligible to vote in Mallee tomorrow. There were many empty seats in Wesley Performing Arts Centre on Monday night. Most of the seats were filled with elderly rusted-on party supporters.
Where were the 18-year-olds, where were the young mums and young dads? Few bothered to pop out for a couple of hours.
It was a rare opportunity to witness a fair dinkum contest on the hustings. Mallee has changed hands twice in 64 years, when Peter Fisher took over from Sir Winton Turnbull in 1972 and when John Forrest took over from Peter Fisher in 1993. Tomorrow will see the third changing of the guard.
It shows either apathy or disengagement from the political process. After all, the winner yawn will be a Coalition candidate in the safest conservative seat in the country.
The crucial take-home message for tomorrow's winner in Mallee is that he or she must represent the entire electorate the apathetic, the disengaged, the 85 per cent who are not farmers, the people of all persuasions not just the mates and the party faithful who turned up on Monday night.
Keith Lockwood, chief sub-editor