She wasn’t at the Gunns AGM in Launceston this morning, but investment banker turned anti pulp mill candidate Dani Ecuyer has made a bigger media impact in Wentworth than most of the rest of us independents put together.

Ecuyer got a huge run on Media Watch by stitching up The Australian’s creative colour writer, Caroline Overington and generated plenty of pulp mill attention at the Perpetual AGM, making in onto The 7.30 Report, PM and Lateline, just to name a few. She also made The Independent in London.

Despite all this publicity and a very slick website, Ecuyer will be doing very well to crack 10% in a big field and will obviously not join independents Bob Katter and Tony Windsor in the next Parliament.

Nick Xenophon is also considered highly likely for the Senate, although yesterday’s extraordinary spray from his old SA running mate Anne Bressington won’t help.

The next best prospect is said to be Noel Brunning in the WA seat of Forrest, where long-serving Liberal MP Geoff Prosser is retiring. Brunning’s website is pretty slick and he’s got that radio announcer’s voice, along with a good presence in his community south west of Perth from running a restaurant. Some punters and even Malcolm Mackerras think Brunning can win.

However, former Telstra Countrywide regional manager turned merino breeder Gavin Priestley is perhaps a better bet as he rides a wave of emotion for the late Peter Andren in an attempt to keep Calare independent. Former Parkes National Party MP John Cobb has much to be nervous about, especially after he was stitched up the Auditor General over the rorted regional partnerships scheme.

It was Priestley, along with his friend Andren and Tony Windsor, who established the Independent Candidates Advisory Network (ICAN), as a guide to help independent candidates.

Victoria doesn’t have a history of producing Federal independents and we’ll probably struggle to see anyone get over 10%, although Gavin O’Connor will go okay in Corio given he’s the dumped Labor member.

Rob Bryant is doing well in the second safest Liberal seat in the country: Murray, in northern Victoria. Bryant spent $65,000 getting 8% of the vote taking on Sharman Stone last time and is spending a similar amount this time. Check out this Youtube “Time For Change” pitch at the small business vote.

The best prospect in Queensland is Caroline Hutchinson, a former radio announcer and newspaper journalist who is spending $40,000 taking on that old Joh-for-Canberra advocate, Slippery Pete Slipper, in Fisher.

Caroline thinks Slipper is Australia’s worst MP and Labor is not running hard enough because the 12% margin is too great. The late Peter Andren is one of Caroline’s heroes.

Today’s head banging Mayne Report video laments media laxness over the Coalition’s debt claims.

Peter Fray

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