POLITICAL BATTLEGROUND: Why outer suburbia is crucial

THE 'mortgage belt' John Howard once believed his 'battlers' populated will again hold the key to whichever major party forms government after July 2.

As both major parties continue to tout their perceived strengths - the Coalition's economic management and Labor's equality-driven 'people first' strategy - marginal seats remain firmly in both parties' firing line.

Outside of Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne's outer suburbs, seats such as Lindsay in New South Wales and McEwen in Victoria will continue to be the focus of the two political forces' fight.

But several seats once assumed safe are now under attack from other forces, some due to widespread electoral map redistributions and others due to changing political dynamics.

In South Australia, the rise of Senator Nick Xenophon's Team has put the wind up former frontbencher Jamie Briggs in his once safe Liberal seat of Mayo.

Similarly, the Greens are putting pressure on Labor left-flank leader Anthony Albanese in the freshly redistributed suburban Sydney seat Grayndler.

In New South Wales, regional seats including Page, once Nationals Party heartland, now sit in marginal territory, while the long-time bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro could turn into a safer Labor seat.

While Victoria is again home to a state Labor government and local federal Labor leader in Bill Shorten, Mr Turnbull's popularity in the southern state could yet see the Coalition pick up a few seats including the Opposition-held marginal McEwen electorate, sitting on a slim 0.2% margin.

Labor, however, could hope to pick up Victorian electorates Corangamite and Deakin, each held on less than 4%, while Liberal Sophie Mirabella will face Indi independent Cathy McGowan in a three-corner contest including lesser-known Nationals candidate Marty Corboy.

The regions least likely to face major electoral upsets two weeks out remain Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

In the Senate, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's hopes of cleaning out the crossbench could be dashed.

Sen Xenophon is expected to pick up a second seat and Jacqui Lambie in Tasmania and Glenn Lazarus in Queensland are strong, if unpredictable, contenders to keep their spots on the red leather.

Oh, and to keep things lively, Pauline Hanson has also thrown her hat in the ring for a Senate spot. Again. - DANIEL BURDON


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