THIS Saturday, the nation goes to the polling booths to decide who will govern the country.
The latest polls have the Coalition in front in both primary and two-party preferred votes.
However, the local three federal electorates – Charlton, Newcastle and Shortland – are considered safe for Labor this election, with 12.7, 12.5 and 12.9 per cent holding respectively.
The current MPs are Labor’s Greg Combet (Charlton), Sharon Grierson (Newcastle) and Jill Hall (Shortland).
Only Ms Hall is standing again. Two new candidates will stand in the other electorates.
Pat Conroy will contest the seat of Charlton and is a former staffer for Mr Combet.
Sharon Claydon, a former Newcastle councillor, did not recontest her seat at the last local government election, and has been working for the office of Ms Grierson.
Trying to claw back numbers for the Coalition in the region are Liberal candidates, all new to the standings but quite well-known by the public.
In Newcastle, the Liberal candidate is Jaimie Abbott, a former Royal Australian Air Force public affairs officer, who has worked for Paterson MP Bob Baldwin.
She has the best chance of changing the status quo and has become well-known to voters by her door-knocking campaign.
Last week her campaign received a boost when Opposition Leader Tony Abbott came to town. Mr Abbott announced his retrospective compensation for Australian victims of post-9/11 terrorism and met with Bali bombing victims.
Standing for the seat of Shortland is businessman and former newsreader John Church. The Liberal campaign took a backwards step in the seat of Charlton last month, however.
Up until August 20, Kevin Baker was a quiet contender for the Lake Macquarie seat.
However, his involvement in setting up web forum that contained derogatory, racist and sexist comments saw him withdraw from campaigning.
Due to the incident’s timing his name will still appear on the ballot paper as ‘‘Kevin Baker, Liberal’’. But by Commonwealth law, once an election candidate is declared, voting, counting and declared results must follow procedure.
■ The three major polls have the Coalition in front to lead the lower house and govern the country.
Newspoll has Labor at 33 per cent primary vote and 46 per cent to Coalition, with the two-party preferred vote at 46 per cent Labor and 54 per cent Coalition.
Nielsen has primary votes of 35 per cent Labor and 47 per cent Coalition, and the two-party preferred at 47 per cent Labor and 53 per cent Coalition.
Essential has primary votes at 40 per cent Labor and 44 per cent Coalition, and the two-party preferred vote at 50/50.