What can we read into the sudden focus on the Murraylands?

Image: Electoral Commission of South Australia.
Image: Electoral Commission of South Australia.

Is Hammond actually in play here?

That's the question one must ask after a sudden flurry of interest in the usually quiet electorate, centred on Murray Bridge, this week.

Various polls have suggested Nick Xenophon and his party, SA Best, could have a momentous impact on South Australian politics after the upcoming state election, due on March 17.

But we're talking about an electorate in which Liberal MP Adrian Pederick has enjoyed a comfortable margin since his election 12 years ago.

In 2014 he earned 55 per cent of first-preference votes; in 2010 it was 62pc; the time before that, in 2006, it was 49pc, but with the second-placed candidate a long way behind.

Yet here we are, with both Labor Premier Jay Weatherill and Liberal Opposition Leader Steven Marshall sweeping into the Murraylands making bold statements and promising funding.

The party hacks have crunched the numbers; The Standard, as yet, has not.

Maybe SA Best will bring a swathe of MPs into the next parliament and hold the balance of power, or even power in its own right; maybe only one or two candidates will get up.

That will depend on preference deals and the local issues which get stirred up in each electorate over the next six weeks.

But the mere possibility appears to have put the fear of God – or, more correctly, voters – into the two established party machines.

And if that means hospital upgrades, water security or better public transport services for the Murraylands, well and good.

It's nice to be wanted.

Peri Strathearn