Can Scott Morrison, an ardent Cronulla Sharks fan, smell blood in the water in the Hunter?
The Prime Minister has ventured into the Paterson electorate three times in the past six months, handing out gifts like Santa Claus.
A gas power plant for Kurri Kurri. Fighter jets for Williamtown. A big battery factory for Tomago.
On Thursday, he was at it again, supporting a new container terminal in Newcastle which has been stymied by the NSW Liberal government's port privatisation deals and, out of the blue, putting his seal of disapproval on extending a gas exploration licence off the Hunter coast.
The PM's latest visit followed Energy Minister Angus Taylor's arrival on Monday to pump up the Kurri Kurri gas plant project.
The following day it was the turn of Opposition leader Anthony Albanese to stand (beside Paterson MP Meryl Swanson) in Nelson Bay and rail against offshore gas on behalf of local tourism operators.
Albo then drove up to the vineyards to address a mining union convention.
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Mr Morrison mentioned the word "Hunter" 22 times in his media conference on Thursday and said the region was the "model case" for his government's policies on skills, energy and manufacturing.
"If it works in the Hunter, I know it's going to work for Australia," he enthused.
"I'm just keen to ensure that I'm working with the Hunter to remove any obstacles that could be in their way."
He also deliberately set aside time at the start of the media doorstop for questions of local significance.
It's all heady stuff for a region so often ignored by Canberra.
It is perhaps no coincidence that all of these public political happenings have centred on Paterson, where Ms Swanson's margin was whittled down by a relatively obscure Liberal challenger in 2019.
Mr Morrison held a $10,000-a-plate fundraising dinner at the exclusive Newcastle Club when he was last in town three weeks ago.
Mr Taylor commanded only $1000 at the same venue on Monday night when he entertained property and manufacturing heavy hitters plus a few former Liberal MPs.
Another conservative star is rumoured to be arriving for yet another fundraiser next week.
The object of all this new-found interest may be Medowie solicitor Brooke Vitnell, the wife of Morrison adviser Julian Leembruggen and the Libs' presumptive candidate in Paterson.
Asked on Thursday whether he would make a captain's pick on Ms Vitnell's candidacy, Mr Morrison said: "I will allow the party members to make those decisions, and I'm sure they'll make a very good decision."
The Coalition may also fancy its chances in the Labor strongholds of Shortland and Hunter at the next election, marking the region as a political battleground which can influence national outcomes.
As the PM said on Thursday: "I know if it's happening in the Hunter, I know it's happening in Australia."
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