Canning byelection: Who's 'local'? Take your pick | OPINION

Labor candidate Matt Keogh was at Mandurah Station last week handing out pamphlets emblazoned with his campaign slogan "Vote Local, Vote Labor, Vote Keogh".

His opponent Andrew Hastie, who retired from the army the week he was nominated as the Liberal for Canning, moved to Dudley Park at the onset of the campaign.

But neither men will be voting as locals in the Canning byelection.

Mr Keogh told the Mandurah Mail this week he lives in Kelmscott, but he is understood to be on the electoral roll at his address in Mt Lawley.

He hasn't lived in Canning long enough to vote because of an electoral law requiring him to be at his new place for a month.

Mr Hastie is in the same boat; the Australian Electoral Commission put him on the electoral roll, but he can’t vote because of the same law.

Despite all this, the battle over which candidate can claim the closest connection to Canning broke out yesterday like a rash.

It started when a journalist at a press conference questioned Mr Hastie over his local knowledge.

Mr Hastie said he had gotten to know the electorate pretty well over the last few weeks.

“I have been driving around and I have been talking to a lot of people and I am confident I am across the issues the people of Canning are concerned about,” he said.

This wasn’t good enough for Mr Keogh, who said: “You are never going to know the electorate in two weeks like you know it after growing up in it and being in it for 33 years.”

Mr Hastie returned the volley later in the day.

Opening his campaign office across the road from Mr Keogh’s, he said: “My opponent across the road has a sign up that says ‘Born in Canning’.

“Now I don’t take a born to rule attitude at all when it comes to this campaign; while he may have been born here in the electorate he chose to move out while I have chosen to move in.”

They looked like two bald men fighting over a comb.

Despite being born in the northern part of the electorate, Mr Keogh lived in Mt Lawley up until a few days ago.

Presumably this was convenient for Mr Keogh’s work at the St Georges Terrace office of one of the biggest corporate law firms in the country.

To be fair, Mr Hastie hasn’t claimed to be a local, but voters could be forgiven for questioning his connection to the electorate; he moved in after he was endorsed as the Liberal candidate.

For both men, a last-minute move to the electorate could be interpreted as a matter of political convenience.

In a ReachTEL poll conducted at the outset of the campaign an overwhelming 91 per cent of 768 voters questioned said a candidate's personal connection to the electorate was important.

Both parties know this inside out, so expect the fight for local cred to continue.

The Canning byelection will be held on September 19.

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