THE eyes of the nation will focus on the Lyne electorate on September 14.
The Prime Minister’s surprise announcement ended uncertainty surrounding the poll date but Lyne voters will have to wait until mid-March to find out if key independent Rob Oakeshott will contest the election.
A range of factors will influence his decision from unfinished political business to family life.
Mr Oakeshott said if he stood for re-election, it would be on a platform of unprecedented results.
That includes $190 million for Port Macquarie and Kempsey hospitals, Pacific Highway work such as the Kempsey bypass, the regional aviation project covering three airports and wins in higher education.
He also spoke about unfinished business including employment and education strategies, and indigenous recognition in the constitution.
“It’s just a case of weighing that up against four children under eight, a very busy home and stretching the love and friendship of a very understanding wife,” Mr Oakeshott said.
The Nationals candidate for Lyne Dr David Gillespie has been on the campaign trail since July in a bid to to win back the seat for the party.
He believes now is the time for Mr Oakeshott to declare his intentions.
“With the election now being called, Mr Oakeshott needs to let the people of the Lyne electorate know if he will be re-contesting the seat rather than waiting until March,” Mr Gillespie said.
Dr Gillespie went head-to-head with Mr Oakeshott at the 2010 election and party members pre-selected him last year for another election contest.
“I want to ensure all the concerns of our electorate are front and centre in the next government,” Dr Gillespie said. “God willing, we will have a change of government and I will have a seat at the table.”
Mr Oakeshott admitted he would be the underdog if he stood for re-election.
“I don’t have a problem with that because I’m someone that strongly believes if you have a view on anything, whether it’s part of a local sporting club or part of politics, rather than whinge about it, stand up and be counted,” he said.
Mr Oakeshott and independent New England MP Tony Windsor caused intense speculation in September 2010 when they sided with Labor to form a minority government after the election resulted in a hung parliament.
And this week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard took Mr Oakeshott into her confidence before announcing the election date.
Locally, Mr Oakeshott predicted the election would be a contest of results versus insults.
Dr Gillespie said the Lyne MP would be judged on his results of installing Labor and Greens into power and the carbon tax.
There are nine final sitting weeks of parliament.