Considering the way the northern NSW electorates of Lismore and Ballina voted, many local voters were disappointed to see the Liberal/National coalition re-elected for four more years in the recent NSW election.
The opinion polls were telling us there would be aswing to Labor and a hung parliament. What actually did happen? Labor went backwards with a statewide -0.8 per cent swing against it and the Greens a -0.7 per cent swing against.
Finally on Wednesday 3 April preferences were allocated in the lower house seats and exact results became available. Contrary to the statewide swing, in Ballina the Greens increased their vote by 14.48 per cent or 3,117 votes better than last time in 2015. Similarly, in spite of the -0.8 per cent statewide swing against, in Lismore Labor managed to get ahead of Greens and after collecting Greens preferences the left vote increased by 11.79 per cent or 2,275 votes.
Labor took Lismore for only the second time since 1917. This remarkable difference in two northern seats is completely against the trend and one wonders why.
In 2015 there was a major problem with exhausted votes. The Echo and other campaigners publicised the exhausted vote issue extensively but only seemed to reduce it by 3.28 per cent in Ballina and 1.48 per cent in Lismore. This failure to reduce the exhausted vote significantly was probably because of both the Greens and Labor advertising ‘Just Vote 1’ in the print media and in mail out publicity.
The Animal Justice Party, Sustainable Australia, and Keep Sydney Open drew votes away from Greens and Labor leading to 1,494 votes in Ballina and 984 votes in Lismore becoming exhausted when these independents dropped out.
Independents can make an impact in the upper house and do get elected but one wonders why they bother to stand in the lower house when all they do is draw votes away from Greens/Labor and enhance the chances of the Nationals.
So the large increase in the Green/Labor vote in the Northern Rivers, which ran completely against the state trend, may have been due to the appeal of local candidates.
More realistically it may be owing to a highly educated and informed electorate who are able to recognise the dreadful governance of the right-wing LNP. Discontent with the environmental vandalism, eg illegal forestry and major fish kills as well as the electorate’s frustration with interference with planning and general loss of support of the disconnected Nationals are among many factors that probably drove the electorate.
Next stop Feds
We move on to the Federal election in May where it looks like the neo-lib right wing’s policies will be terminated. We are also expecting the NSW upper house final result on 12 April, which hopefully not give the LNP an absolute balance of power.
Meantime settle back to four more years of right-wing government. Locally we did our bit but the state is not with us. I’m off to France to check out the yellow vests who, at least have the sense to know they are being screwed.