By KEN SAPWELL
NORTHERN Rivers political analyst Mungo MacCallum predicts embattled National Party Minister Larry Anthony will retain the marginal seat of Richmond for a third term despite trailing his Labor rival by over 1000 votes.
The Ocean Shores-based political guru believes the outstanding 13,000 pre-poll and postal votes will be enough for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to draw ahead of Justine Elliot.
"I think he is going to hold on to the seat easily," said Mr MacCallum, who put the local candidates under the microscope during the campaign for a book he is writing on the election.
"The pre-polls and postal votes always favour the Nationals and I'm sure that Mr Anthony has been working hard to secure enough of them to give him a renewed term.
"He has proved himself as a bit of an expert in the past in tying these votes up for himself and I don't think it will be any different this time."
But the steady influx of Green voters around Byron Bay and an invasion of sea-change retirees who've never voted for the Nationals in the past would make it tough for Mr Anthony to keep the family dynasty alive in future polls.
"In my opinion the Nationals here would not have won the last election if it had not have been for the dirty tricks campaign suggesting that illegal refugees could be billeted at local caravan parks."
He also believed the Nationals would get a boost from a letter-box campaign in the last days of the election suggesting a preference deal had been struck between the Nationals and Greens.
"In an election where the Green vote will help decide the outcome I think the fake Green votes will also help Mr Anthony to hang on."
He said the ALP's Justine Elliot had succeeded in defying an Australia-wide swing against Labor with the help of a well-oiled campaign where she enjoyed unprecedented support from ALP headquarters.
"But I also believe her hopes of taking the seat in future elections will be made much easier as more and more people move from the cities to the coastal strip," he said.
"As a result of this change in demographics I think the National's vote here will just fade away."
He said if she had made one disastrous mistake it was her attempt to smear Mr Anthony by trying to link him to a National Party website which apparently contained material related to paedophilia.
But his view is not shared by Southern Cross University political lecturer Ros Irwin, who said the rapidly changing demographics was making it harder every year for the Nationals to hold onto the seat.