Burger king hungry for leadership
IF it wasn’t for Kevin Rudd, Matthew Fraser would be the current honourable Federal Member for Richmond.
That’s what internal Coalition pollsters have told the 37-year-old Nationals candidate, who is in the midst of his second tilt for the seat which takes in the Tweed Shire.
The owner of Hungry Jack’s at Tweed South said he was advised by party pollsters he had edged ahead of sitting MP Justine Elliot (Labor) a few months out from the 2013 poll.
Mr Fraser had door-knocked 6500 homes during a period when Labor was on the nose, due in part to the constant leadership speculation.
“They couldn’t believe it,” he said of the pre-polling, which was seen as reliable.
But when Mr Rudd toppled Julia Gillard to retake the Prime Ministership in June 2013, Mr Fraser’s lead evaporated.
Mrs Elliot retained her seat with a swing against her of 4% leaving her with a margin of just 1.6%.
Mr Fraser attracted over 47% of the vote on a two-party preferred basis and Mrs Elliot nearly 53%.
“They say Mr Rudd came back in to save the furniture; well Justine was part of the furniture,” Mr Fraser said.
You’d think if the polls were accurate, that would make him more optimistic about his chances on July 2.
After all, last time he was a fresh-faced newcomer to the political game.
He’s had a further three years to build his profile, in that time becoming the president of the Tweed Chamber of Commerce.
The make-up of the Richmond seat has also changed. Out is the Green Left-leaning town of Nimbin, replaced by the more conservative seaside town of Ballina.
But Mr Fraser said while the seat was winnable, he remained the underdog, which is a view shared by most pundits at this point in the campaign cycle.
“Coming into this one though I know it’s close, but Justine is still ahead,” he said. Mr Fraser said with 13 Liberal seats tipped to be lost, and Mrs Elliot a known entity, the hurdles were huge.
But wife, Paula’s character assessment of Mr Fraser should sound a note of alarm to anyone tempted to dismiss his chances.
She testifies to a dogged, driven personality that will not rest until he’s achieved his aim.
“There’s no stopping him when there’s a goal,” said Mrs Fraser, who met her future husband when they both worked at McDonald’s as teenagers.
They have since married and are the proud parents of 18-month-old Mackenzie.
Mrs Fraser said this quality would be particularly beneficial in getting things done in the electorate, adding Matthew was a likeable person who was genuinely interested in others and a good listener.
“He just has a knack and a way of communicating with anyone and everyone,” she said.
Mr Fraser said understanding the challenges and demands of small business would be essential to the role.
He said he knew what it was like to toss and turn at night, worrying how he’d pay the bills, after his store suffered a 30% drop in takings when roadworks began at Sextons Hill in 2010.
He said he and Paula were both from working class families and purchased their business by each selling their modest Brisbane homes before moving to the Tweed.
Mr Fraser dreams of turning the region into an adventure sports capital including BMX, which is now an Olympic sport, and skateboarding, surfing and mountain biking.
He believes such a project could create jobs, boost turnover for local businesses and provide opportunities for youth.