The Prime Minister’s been sending “welcome to the electorate” letters to new voters brought into Bennelong by the redistribution. And he’s responded to the Crikey Morgan Poll by saying “I never take my seat for granted”.

“I have had polls like that before over the past few years,” the PM told Southern Cross Broadcasting. “I have never taken my electorate for granted, I am working hard in my own seat as well as around the country.”

John Howard’s always a cautious politician – particularly about his own seat – as Laurie Oakes discovered on the Sunday program on the eve of the 2004 poll. He got the “I never take my seat for granted” line too.

The PM was even more circumspect when he spoke about the new boundaries on 2GB last year:

RAY HADLEY: Now every interview you’ve done, I would think for the last two years plus, has raised the spectre of what you will do in the future. I hear the sound bites on our news service from other states, I see the TV coverage and all the rest of it. Now there’s one out of left field, Bennelong, with the electoral boundaries, they say, making your seat even more marginal. I think Malcolm Mackerras has said today that you’ll resign from the top job before the next election….

PM: Oh yes…

HADLEY: News to you?

PM: Yeah, well…

HADLEY: Will Bennelong be harder to win?

PM: Bennelong, according to my calculations, the margin which I had at the last election of four and half per cent, according to my calculations has gone to down to somewhere between four and four and a half, I’ve picked up about three… about 5000 voters around the Ermington area and I’ve picked up about 1700 voters in the sort Carlingford-Beecroft area and the effect of that is to slightly reduce my notional majority based on last time’s figures…

It’s a tougher ask and I don’t think there’s any doubt about the party holding the seat. But you know I never take the people for granted, I haven’t in 30 years and I want to say to all of those new people who are coming in to the electorate, I’ll be working very hard for them.

Peter Fray

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