Greens MP Tamara Smith (Ballina electorate) will return to NSW parliament after a convincing win last Saturday night. She beat strong contender Ben Franklin (Nationals) 60.83 per cent to 39.17 per cent after preferences were distributed.
The NSW Ballina electorate covers both Byron and Ballina Shires.
The total percentage of first preference votes for other candidates included James Wright with 1.58 per cent (Keep Sydney Open), Cathy Blasonato with 2.38 per cent (Animal Justice Party), Asren Pugh with 25.17 per cent (Country Labor), Lisa Mcdermott with 2.04 per cent (Sustainable Australia). Ben Franklin’s first preference vote was 37.48 per cent (Nationals) of the electorate.
Despite Nationals candidate Ben Franklin earning a higher first preference vote, preferences flowing from Labor and the minor parties led the Greens to victory.
All results are sourced from https://vtr.elections.nsw.gov.
Significantly, Country Labor candidate and newcomer Asren Pugh took 25.17 per cent of the first preference vote with 11,439 formal votes.
With the Liberal National coalition returned to power in NSW, the Ballina electorate is establishing itself as an alternative enclave to ‘business as usual’ in Sydney.
Ms Smith’s re-election also sends a signal to Byron councillors, who are led by the ‘progressive’ Greens block under acting mayor Michael Lyon.
The MP and councillors have been at odds over the way development is being carried out in Byron Bay; in the election campaign, Ms Smith was the only major candidate calling for a halt to major developments, especially the bypass and bus interchange. The bus interchange is slated for the rail corridor and comes without any community consultation. And the two markets at the Butler Street will be forced to move to an unknown location until the road works are completed.
Other issues that may have helped her over the line for Byron Shire voters include a total opposition to the contentious West Byron urban development, which is slated opposite the Arts and Industry Estate on Ewingsdale Road. The Greens’ stand on climate change, environmental protection, constrained and sustainable development and renewable energy may have also played a part. In that regard, this electorate is becoming more ideologically distant from much of regional NSW and Sydney.
It’s also an advantage to be an incumbent MP in an election.
On the other hand, National candidate Ben Franklin ran a strong campaign around his ‘delivery’ of projects and funding to the region. For the past four years, Franklin was very active in engaging with the community and claimed to have influenced fellow Sydney ministers into making concessions over issues such as holiday letting and road infrastructure. The Mullum and Byron hospitals were also returned to the community (Council) during this time. Franklin campaigned on his connections within government while Smith campaigned on being an outsider on the crossbench.
With a re-elected Greens MP, the pressure will be on the re-elected NSW Coalition to fulfil pre-election commitments to the Ballina electorate. The Greens claim it could be as high as $100m.
Booth by booth analysis
Surprisingly, the Greens’ Tamara Smith claimed a few booths in Ballina Shire, which had been a National’s stronghold in the past.
After preferences were tallied, the two candidate preferred vote shows that Smith claimed the booths of Ballina High, Meerschaum Vale Hall and Lennox Head Public. Franklin won most of Ballina, claiming (sometimes close) booths in Alstonville High, the Ballina Community Centre, Ballina Hospital, Emmanuel Anglican College, Empire Vale Public, Fernleigh Public, Newrybar Public, Rous Public, Southern Cross School and Tintenbar Public, Wardell Hall and Wollongbar Public.
Yet Smith dominated the Byron Shire booths on the two candidate preferred vote, claiming (many convincingly): Bangalow Public, Billi Lids Long Day Care Centre (Billinudgel), Brunswick Heads Memorial Hall, Byron Bay High, Byron Bay Public, Coorabell Hall, Durrumbul Public, Federal Hall, Ocean Shores Community Centre, Mullum’s St Johns MPC, Suffolk Park Hall and Wilsons Creek Hall.
The early voting count also had Smith ahead of Franklin 3,384 to 1,647, while iVote again put Smith ahead at 950 to 311. So far, postal votes make up 134 to 319, in Franklin’s favour.
Electors enrolled on March 4, 2019 were 59,329, according to the Electoral Commission.
Comparison to last election
At the 2015 NSW election, Greens candidate Tamara Smith claimed an historic victory over Nationals candidate Kris Beavis after the retirement of long serving MP Don Page (Nationals). The seat had been held by conservatives for 88 years.
After preferences in 2015, Smith attained 21,528 votes, or 53.12 per cent of the total vote.
The Nationals candidate Beavis attained 46.88 per cent.
Electors enrolled in 2015, according to the Electoral Commission were 54,958.
While Lismore still remains undecided, it appears Labor’s Janelle Saffin may return to politics with a close race against strong Greens candidate Sue Higginson. After Nationals party MP Thomas George retired after holding the seat since 1999, his successor Nationals candidate Austin Curtin was unable to claim victory given the preference deal between Labor and the Greens.
The current results at https://vtr.elections.nsw.gov.
The Lismore electorate includes all of Lismore City Council, Kyogle Shire, as well as Murwillumbah and the western parts of Tweed Shire.
Up in Tweed, incumbent Nationals MP Geoff Provest retained his seat against newcomer Craig Elliot 47.28 to 52.72 per cent on the two candidate preferred vote. Provest has been in office since 2007. One of the major election issues was the site proposal for the new Tweed Hospital.
Down south, below Lismore, is the electorate of Clarence. Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis was returned to office in the seat which he has held since 2011. He easily won against Country Labor candidate Trent Gilbert 64.66 per cent to 35.34 per cent on the two candidate preferred vote.
Clarence includes all of the Clarence Valley Council including Grafton, Mac