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Byron Shire
June 2, 2023

Tamara Smith returned to Ballina’s Greens seat

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Tamara Smith MP at the Suffolk Park Hotel last night. Photo Tree Faerie.

Last night a packed Suffolk Park Hotel exploded with cheers at around 8pm when the ABC broadcast computer popped up a Greens result for Ballina and the return of Tamara Smith to the seat she has held for the last eight years.

‘On the back of giants’. Tamara Smith thanks all who had gone before her, including Jan Barham. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘On the back of giants’

Smith kept her thanks brief but heartfelt. ‘Thank you so much Jan Barham – Jan worked behind the scenes with me for eight years. She has done countless things to assist me and I recognise her as a former MLC and former mayor. And also the deputy mayor Sarah Ndiaye, Councillor Duncan Day, Councillor Simon Chate and former MLC Ian Cohen, and of course, the former candidate for Richmond, the extraordinary Mandy Nolan who has helped me so much. 

‘We’re on the backs of giants.’

At the time counting closed for the evening, Smith had attracted 10,530 votes, (40.51 per cent of the counted total), with the Nationals’ Josh Booyens following along with 6,557 votes (25.22 per cent) and Labor’s Andrew Broadly with 5,770 votes (22.2 per cent).

Polling booth skullduggery

Greens MLC Sue Higginson and Tamara Smith with volunteers on the booths. Photo Angus Locker.

During her speech Smith said she wanted to make special mention of how incredibly proud she was of the volunteers. ‘There was some skullduggery, of course. Labor were absolutely vile – the Labor volunteers and the candidate. But I want to say I’ve never been so proud.

‘Every single one of you who volunteered, every single one of you that was on a booth, or was door knocking or phone banking, or the ninja warriors who went out and set up – we won the corflute festival, for sure. 

‘Everyone, every single thing that you have done has been absolutely outstanding. And the way that you do it – I’m so proud to be in your party and to have you as our supporters. Because when we saw the poor behaviour of others, I was able to say, after asking about our volunteers, and the feedback unanimously was that our people are so incredibly kind and gracious. We do politics differently. Well done!’

Smith became very emotional at this point, thinking about what is to come. ‘Your hard work is a mandate from our community that the things that matter to us mattered to them, and vice versa. This is a crunch time and as I’ve said the whole campaign: the next four years is tough.’

A 10 per cent swing?

Tamara Smith and campaign coordinator Angus Locker. Photo Tree Faerie.

Smith said at that time of the evening it looked like she had a 10 per cent swing. ‘Gus [Campaign Coordinator, Angus Locker] is very cautious about these matters. So we’re not calling that yet, but it’s definitely a really good swing and we think double what we had last time.’ 

Smith said she didn’t want to say too much about Locker as she would get teary. ‘Gus is 22 years-old. Basically, he has done the job of three or four people – thank you so much, because honestly, I’ve never seen anyone so professional on so many levels at your range, you’re just mind blowing and I just hope and wish you so much success. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.’

This morning Smith said she felt humbled and grateful for the support of the community. ‘I’m eager to get to work tomorrow to start preparing for working with a new premier and progressive government. I never want to take our community for granted. We work hard to serve them every day.’

Greens ready to push Labor

Smith said that given what people in the region have been through in the last few years, she thinks they are demanding real action across key crises – climate, housing, and cost of living pressures. ‘The Greens are ready to push Labor further across all of the areas of reform that we took to this election.

‘I look forward to working with a Labor government to deliver the second round of flood recovery assistance, flood mitigation measures across the region, and immediate reforms in housing. 

‘We want to disrupt the hold that the clubs lobby have on the Labor party, and deliver fair and equitable funding to regional communities.’

The first 100 days

Smith said that in the first 100 days of the new parliament she will be introducing legislation to rein in unfettered short term holiday letting, and negotiating to see if development slated for flood prone areas like West Byron can be curtailed. ‘Further in the south I will work with the new government to address the poor health of the Richmond River, and deliver the money we need to clean the hundreds of drains that are so negatively affecting our floodplain farmers and the river.

‘The Greens will be pushing hard to get pay rises for nurses, midwives, paramedics, as well as teachers and aged care workers.

‘In education I hope that we can work together to give public schools their full resourcing entitlements, restore TAFE, and attract professionals to the early childhood sector.’

With pre-poll and postal votes yet to be counted, anything is possible, but it would appear Tamara Smith is well on track to continue as Ballina’s MP.

Vote Summary – Ballina seat election night. Image NSW Electoral Commission.

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  1. “Labor were absolutely vile – the Labor volunteers and the candidate.” Way to go being magnanimous and bringing the community together! 🙂

  2. What a divisive speech compared to what was said by the major party leaders. No wonder the greens are not a party of government when it seems they only retained their current seats and no green slide is obvious.

  3. Kev was just getting ready to surge to power, then they stopped the count, and declared Tamara the winner. We all know how it works.

      • I know. There are so many conspiracies that we have actually had to make it a state and federal crime and hire professional conspiracy theorists we call CIB officers. They are always going on about their latest bike gang conspiracy theory. Apart from conspiracies, there are also sarcastic jokes. Or maybe I just want an excuse to make a viking helmet and paint my face. What are the national colours of Ballina?
        For a conspiracy theory you will enjoy, youtube: ‘who firebombed friendlyjordies?’

    • Come back to reality Christian and actually check out voting system. Just face it Kevin was as likely to get voted in as much as that his policies were credible.

  4. Great, but probably better if we had an Mp in the government. Greens will never be in the government, they achieve nothing and vote with the libs to stop real action on climate change.

    • We get the same with our QLD Senators. In fact Labor and Lib/Nats find that their guys don’t reverse very much that the last lot put in. One could easily start thinking that politicians are just actors putting on a show to confuse the public enough so they don’t realise they have no control over what actually happens. But I’m sure that’s just a 350 year old conspiracy. Try voting harder next time.

      • What do Queensland senators have to do with this? Another irrelevant comment and I thought all the conspiracy theories had disappeared with the end of the Covid crisis, but you do provide me with a good chuckle every time you comment Christian.

        • Are you asking why I would mention QLD Senators? I can tell you pay a lot of attention to the details of the comments I write. Must be why you react instead of interact.

  5. Congrats to Tamara but she has achieved absolutely nothing in 2 terms.

    Presided over the worst flood in history with absolutely no adaptation measures in the year since.

    The housing crisis has gone from bad to dire under her watch.

    Biodiversity continues to decline, another huge fish kill in the Richmond with zero progress on improving that ecological disaster which sits less than a hundred metres from her office.

    Her election seems entirely symbolic to me- so the good burghers of Byron Bay can internally praise themselves as “doing their bit” by electing a green MP.

    But it’s all going to happen now, in this term, OK.

    • If she does manage to lift her game and actually deliver something major it will only be because there is now a Labor Govt in power, but we can only hope.


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