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Byron Shire
February 23, 2024

A gold star campaign and a result full of hope

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Two years ago adventurer Emma Scattergood discovered that a journey doesn’t always involve travel. In 2022, Emma was told she had stage 3 invasive lobular breast cancer. 

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Bob Brown arrested in the Styx

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Saturday was a long day for the Greens’ Mandy Nolan, who started election day early in Bangalow and finished up after midnight at the Bruns Bowlo. Photo Jeff Dawson.

It’s not surprising that Mandy Nolan got so many primary votes at Saturday’s election for the seat of Richmond – her campaign has been relentless and her volunteers all stellar.

Nolan jumped out of the gates and led the tally throughout Saturday evening and most of Sunday, and it wasn’t until late yesterday that incumbent and likely winner Justine Elliot overtook her in the race for the seat of Richmond.

At the time of our interview on Sunday afternoon, a blip in the system suggested the Greens might have a chance to win with preferences, but the blip flopped Labor’s way an hour later. At the time of writing there were two booths left to count.

Breaking the wonk

Hundreds of people cheered Mandy Nolan on at the celebration in Brunswick Heads. Photo Jeff Dawson.

The reaction from the tally counters on Saturday night said it all – no one had done the modelling on Nolan topping the primary vote. The ABC’s super wonk was, disturbingly, lost for words. ‘I spoke to my campaign manager and she said “we’ve broken Antony Green”,’ said Nolan.

Nolan said the pointy end of the election was all new to her. ‘It is a science that mystifies me. When you’re working within the parameters of predictions of what happened last time, about what you’re targeting to happen – there’s a lot of things that happened this time which were unaccounted for. We were pushing for up to a 7 per cent swing, maybe a 5 per cent – we thought that was ambitious. We didn’t think we would win so many booths.’

Strong Green women

‘I think people assumed my name recognition was solid obviously in the Byron Shire,’ said Nolan. ‘But what you can see in the campaign for the Green vote… Tamara Smith is the state member, Sue Higginson – she’s a local living in the Northern Rivers who has come on as another Green woman in New South Wales parliament – I think it’s really starting to shift people’s relationship with what Green politics are, particularly at a federal level – what the values are, after you’ve been through a massive climate event.

‘We also didn’t predict the power of the independent vote, which was so much higher than anyone thought it was going to be.’

Starting the day early, Nolan went to booths at Bangalow, Lennox, Ballina, Mullum, Kingscliff and then Byron. ‘There was something like 55 booths,’ she said. ‘If you’re not careful you can end up spending the most time in the car, so I just chose some booths where I felt the vote was strongest.’

Nolan said one of the things she’s proudest of is the quality of her campaign and of the vision it gave to our community. ‘The campaign was gold star as were the volunteers – the integrity that we had, the sense of a people’s movement, built on ideas and hope – it really reached out.’

She said now the hardest part was the not knowing. ’It’s excruciating, not knowing and holding on to hope. Trying to get excited and not trying to be devastated. It’s just what purgatory must feel like.’

Wonderful supporters

Mandy doing Mandy. Photo Jeff Dawson.

On Saturday once the booths closed, Mandy Nolan walked into the Bruns Bowlo to a standing ovation from about 400 well wishers. ‘I nearly collapsed. It took my breath away. I almost burst into tears, I was so overwhelmed. It was really intense and beautiful and I had an amazing sense of connection of all those people, some people I have never even met who had given up so much time. It was beautiful.’

Nolan says who ever wins Richmond is going to have to work harder in the region.

‘People voted how they felt,’ she said. ‘This was very emotional. A lot of people went to a huge effort to make a decision about where to send their vote, for whatever they believed. Every person I spoke to, on the phone or at their doors, people had been thinking about who they were voting for, they were asking questions. People were doing research.

‘Some people would turn up and take all your how to votes, take them home, and go and look up your policies. When people do that you think “thank God”. People are realizing it’s not just a number in a box. This is what they have to live with.’

Nolan will run again in 2025

Mandy says not matter what the outcome in 2022, she will run again in 2025. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Nolan says whatever happens, she will run again next election. ‘For me, I’m still hanging in there. I’ll fight for this region and work hard no matter what the outcome. I’d just like to be able to do it with a bit more power and clout.’

She says she was up until after midnight and was spending Sunday resting. ‘I’ve been in bed all day. It’s been really full-on and I’m very emotional. So I need to just be kind to myself.’

And the highlight of the campaign and election for Nolan? ‘To be able to say today “former Prime Minister Scott Morrison” and knowing the Greens have done so so well. It’s kind of exciting. It feels like there’s a real shift towards community and away from the big party system.

‘No matter what happens here, what happened around the country fills me with enormous hope. Like – great, people get it.’

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  1. “It is a science that mystifies me. When you’re working within the parameters of predictions of what happened last time, about what you’re targeting to happen – there’s a lot of things that happened this time which were unaccounted for” – That’s why the predictions of climate models keep failing, it’s the exact same problem.

    “She says she was up until after midnight and was spending Sunday resting. ‘I’ve been in bed all day. It’s been really full-on and I’m very emotional. So I need to just be kind to myself.’” – Try playing the fiddle, that worked for Nero.

    Women became half the voters at the beginning on the 20th century, that’s why that century was so peaceful. Let’s try an all women government, I mean look at what Cleopatra did for Egypt!

    I look forward to seeing her pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

    • Predicting the preference intentions of freedumb voters who gave their primary votes to independents, Lib-Dems, IMOP, Dumb Nation, & Clive Palmer who didn’t exist at the last election makes it hard for psephologists & computer modelling. It’s hard enough trying to predict how loonies will behave even before you feed them loony food manufactured by conspiracy theorists, naturopaths, narcissists & bigots.
      It is nothing like climate modelling with millions of data points collected & checked & rechecked over decades – that is, unless your climate modelling is the of the shallow & deliberately misinformed propaganda type usually presented on sky news or misunderstood & mocked in one of Murdoch’s mastheads.

      Do you feel compelled to constantly post your attention-seeking stream-of-consciousness gormless drivel when you’re bored just so you can see your fake name in print?
      Your constant anonymous sniping of progressive leaders & local community heroes – like Mandy, over the past few weeks has already become tired & adds nothing – more so since boasting you’re hiding behind a pseudonym – either too embarrassed or ashamed to use your real name.

  2. Yayyyyy! At the stroke of a pen, we jump from the 50s to the 21st century. A major victory for women which excites me so much. And a victory for the strugglers, wishfully at the expense of the rich although I won’t hold my breath on that.

    A victory for the climate and hopefully, accountability by those guilty ones in government & the private sector.

    For 3.5 years I’ve been praying for this day, when Scumo would be no more. It seems that about 2/3rds of the voting public wished for the same thing.

    Today, I am again a very happy Australian.

    And wonderful effort by Mandy and her army of dedicated helpers. Roll on 2025, Mandy!

  3. Congratulations, Mandy. Win or come second, you have done a wonderful job.
    I am delighted to hear that you will contest the next election. Federal Parliament desperately needs strong, outspoken and passionate women like you.

  4. Well done Mandy, volunteers, helpers and community. A wonderful campaign that revealed the real heart and vision of the Greens. A long journey but Scomo is out of leadership (no doubt will still white ant from within the house! People everywhere are feeling lighter and happier including the young ones who deserve a better future. Struggle is always ongoing but this sense of social newness is heaven in the spiritual sense. Well done again and many thanks.

  5. So much effort and money expended by the Greens against a great female Labor member in Richmond, is a shocking waste of recourses! If only it would have been used to help effect a change of Liberal or National party Govt instead! The loss of Terri Butler in Griffith is a massive disservice to the Australian parliament, Butler was one of the country’s best performers in Parliament against the LNP!

    • Elliott lost Byron and Ballina on 2pp and close to a draw in murwillumbah and easy to understand. She may be good for Tweed but barely seen south of Chinderah in 14years. Honestly Larry Anthony was a far better local member and Im a lefty.

    • Tweed, you don’t say how Greens voters in north Ballina, Byron and Tweed shires could possibly have influenced the fate of Terri Butler in a Qld seat?

      The fact that Mandy Nolan did so well against Justine Elliot of Labor’s Right faction speaks volumes about the latter’s support “south of Chinderah” as Mike put it.

      Now let’s see if Justine acknowledges Greens preferences for getting her over the line against the Nationals. If the lack of any such acknowledgement by Janelle Saffin when similarly narrowly beating Sue Higginson in Lismore in the last state election is any guide – or indeed, Federal Labor this time – then Mandy shouldn’t hold her breath.


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