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Fickle Kalgoorlie voters sit on political gold
Fickle Kalgoorlie voters sit on political gold

A reporter walks into a bar and asks: "Who will you vote for in the State election?"

"I'm not enrolled," the barman chuckles. "Not Gillard, that's for sure," says a confused punter. "Nobody - all politicians are liars," another says.

Welcome to the Goldfields.

Campaign posters are plastered around Kalgoorlie and election advertisements are on TV but people we spoke to were still undecided or indifferent.

Sitting at the Exchange Hotel's front bar, geologist's assistant Rob Callander put it down to the mining town's transient population.

"This is the least political place I've ever been," he said. "So many people who live here these days are from somewhere else."

But while some are yet to give much thought to the poll, Kalgoorlie is an interesting contest - and one both the Liberals and Nationals are desperate to win.

Victory in the city would boost the Liberals' bid to form government outright while the Nationals see the seat as key to retaining control of Royalties for Regions.

Mr Callander, who is yet to decide who to vote for, said retiring independent John Bowler had been popular and "had his tentacles everywhere, everyone knows him".

Mr Bowler endorsed Nationals' MLC Wendy Duncan, who will try her hand at the Lower House, while lawyer Melissa Price aims to be only the second Liberal after Matt Birney to win the seat.

The WA Young Person of the Year in 2009, Terrence Winner, holds Labor's hopes.

Mrs Price has the vote of machinery supervisor Ike Britza, 57, who works at the Super Pit and has lived in Kalgoorlie for 17 years.

Mr Britza said Mr Bowler did a good job but it was "time for new blood" and he was impressed after meeting Mrs Price, a regular sight campaigning around town.

His biggest concern was the impact of the fly-in, fly-out culture.

"They work, then they leave town," he said. "The young blokes reckon there's not enough here but we have good schools, hospitals and a good lifestyle so more people should be encouraged to live here.

"The lifestyle I choose is to go to work and come home every night to see my offsider and my dog."

Other locals listed crime, a Great Eastern Highway upgrade and the uncertain future of the Goldfields Arts Centre as key issues.

Also voting Liberal will be business owner Pam Warren. Regardless of the result, her bookstore will not survive the year.

Rising rents and falling sales will force Mrs Warren, who was born in the Goldfields, to close this year.

"I'm not making a wage, a lot of independent businesses are closing down. But I'm luckier than some, I'm just going to retire," she said.

Mrs Warren said she had "heard good things" about Mrs Price.

When she was born, Kalgoorlie was a staunch Labor town, but now it was a swinging seat, more money was spent there. Sporting facilities and hospitals had improved.

Gayle Andre, whose business alters clothes, is disillusioned with politicians and undecided.

She will see what the candidates offer then make her decision, a sentiment the overwhelming majority of people spoken to share, which suggests Kalgoorlie is up for grabs.