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Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Tweed votes all in, now for the wait

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All votes are in and counted and the final makeup of Tweed Shire Council will be known on Monday. Tweed Shire’s returning officer Len Sparreboom said he initially expected a declaration of the poll for the seven-seat council on Friday, but that had been delayed after a reassessment.

Mr Sparreboom told Echonetdaily that ‘everything’ had been counted, including postal votes, and a declaration was now expected on Monday.

He said he would first notify candidates and Tweed Shire Council several hours before the official declaration so they could attend and observe when he gets the ‘final okay from Sydney to press the button’.

As of 9 o’clock this morning on the NSW Electoral Commission website, a total of 47,192 votes, 6,773 of which were informal, had been counted. As at end of July, 60,670 voters were enrolled.

At this stage, veteran Cr Warren Polglase (7,129 first-preference votes or 17.64 per cent of the total), Greens Cr Katie Milne (6,425, 15.90 per cent), Labor’s Michael Armstrong (5,059, 12.52 per cent), and mayor Barry Longland (4,333,10.72 per cent), are assured of filling four of the seats.

Favoured to take the other three seats are Cr Phil Youngblutt (3,103, 7.68 per cent), and first-time candidates Carolyn Byrne (2,783, 6.89 per cent) and Gary Bagnall (2,724, 6.74 per cent), who will all benefit from preferences from candidates eliminated before them in the count.

Knife edge

Cr Dot Holdom (1,970, 4.87 per cent), who did not allocate preferences, is fighting to retain her seat on council.

Scott Sledge, the No 2 on environmentalist Eddie Roberts’s Tweed Respect ticket and spokesman for local watchdog group Northern Rivers Guardians, said it was ‘a good result, but not spectacular for Tweed Shire Council’.

Mr Sledge quipped that due to the large informal vote of nearly 15 per cent, ‘next election I may stand as In Formal’.

He said ‘the pro-environment groupings easily overwhelmed the pro-development group’ with the five progressive groups plus pro-conservation individuals ‘totalling 51 per cent, while the five conservative groups attracted 39 per cent support’.

Mr Sledge tipped the final makeup as Warren Polglase, Katie Milne, Michael Armstrong, Phil Youngblutt, Gary Bagnall, Barry Longland and either Bruce Campbell or Carolyn Byrne in a tight finish.

‘These predictions depend on voters following the recommendations from their preferred candidates. About 10 per cent of votes were shared between Dot Holdom and Kaye Sharples who didn’t direct preferences. So there may be a surprise for the last position.

‘I anticipate a much more cooperative council in the Tweed with mayor Barry Longland holding the centre. He campaigned as part of the progressive alliance, which should have four of its five candidates elected to hold a majority for the next four years. All in all a good result.’

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  1. The number of informal votes is worrying but understandable. The voting system is too complex for this council where there are only 7 candidates elected. There were 59 candidates on the ballot paper but only a small fraction of those had any intention of being on Council. Only those on top of a group had any chance of success. There is no need for group voting when most candidates claim to be “independent. Many people are totally confused by the current voting method used .


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