‘There’s lots of anger still’: locals in key NSW seat of Gilmore remain split on Morrison | Sarah Martin Chief political correspondent

At the Heads Hotel, where the Shoalhaven River meets the sea, the locals are arguing about a strange gray object in the middle of the water.

“It’s a bloody bandicoot,” one says.

“Nah, it’s wrapped in plastic.”

“Why would you wrap a bandicoot up in bloody plastic?” another says with a chuckle.

The guessing game is the latest banter at what the locals reverently call “the table of knowledge” – or sometimes the “table of bullshit” – at the front bar of the Heads, sitting at knock-off time with a round of frothies under the watchful eye of two shiny stuffed marlins.

Locals (quiet Australians) sit around the 'table Of knowledge' at the Shoalhaven Heads Hotel
Locals (quiet Australians) sit around the ‘table of knowledge’ at the Heads Hotel. Photograph: Blake Sharp-Wiggins / The Guardian

Politics is usually off the agenda. But there are plenty of opinions for the group who live in “this paradise” on the New South Wales south coast. They need to build a wall at the river mouth. Fix the boat ramp. We need to wake up to China. Order the steak.

And Scott Morrison? Is he in trouble?

“Morrison? Oh, shit yeah. He is in big trouble, ”Grant McLaurin says, happily calling him the“ liar from the Shire ”to rile up his drinking mates.

“Let me put it this way – Labor is not putting up anything against him and I still think he is in trouble.”

“I don’t think he should be,” Colin Mullholland counters from the other end of the table.

“It’s a very hard job ScoMo has got. He’s walked in a bloody bad time: bushfires, Covid, two floods. “

“Who would want to be in charge?” Jan Dolden agrees. “I think he has done a good job and it hasn’t been easy.”

Grant McLaurin at the Shoalhaven Heads Hotel
Grant McLaurin says Scott Morrison is ‘in big trouble’, calling him the ‘liar from the Shire’ to rile up his drinking mates. Photograph: Blake Sharp-Wiggins / The Guardian
Colin Mullholland and Jan Dolden at the Shoalhaven Heads Hotel
Colin Mullholland and Jan Dolden. ‘It’s a very hard job ScoMo has got,’ Mulholland says. Photograph: Blake Sharp-Wiggins / The Guardian

Grant is a Labor voter. Jan and Colin say they are “sticking with ScoMo”.

But perched on the corner of the table is Greg Gay, sitting quietly. He voted for Morrison last time, but is thinking of changing his vote.

“I voted Liberal last time but I’ll most probably go back to Labor,” Gay says.

“It’s just Scott Morrison. His decision making is a bit slow. By the time he decides to make something happen, he could have done it two weeks earlier. Just very slow off the mark. ”