Leonie Williamson votes with her husband, Clarence Independent candidate Richie Williamson at Grafton.
Leonie Williamson votes with her husband, Clarence Independent candidate Richie Williamson at Grafton.

Labor feels wrath of Northern Rivers

NORTHERN Rivers Coalition MPs were catapulted into government, and Greens candidates recorded their strongest-ever votes as the region’s voters joined the rest of NSW in voting down the State’s reviled Labor Government on Saturday.

Even with the election result largely already known, the numbers were astonishing.

The seat of Clarence led the rout, delivering a swing of nearly 20% against Labor candidate Colin Clague and turning the district from a safe seat for Nationals’ MP Steve Cansdell into a fortress, with an unassailable 23% margin.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest went the same way. His margin soared from a modest 2.9% to an astonishing 21.2% as his constituents abandoned Labor.

In Lismore, Thomas George’s primary vote surged from more than 52% at the 2007 poll to more than 60%, while his margin after preferences were counted soared to more than 19%.

While the local Nationals MPs’ stocks were soaring, so too was that of Greens candidates.

That improvement was most visible in Ballina where, despite Labor candidate Toby Warnes receiving a little over half the 24% vote received by Melanie Dorien in 2007, veteran Nationals MP Don Page’s margin edged up only 0.6% to 15.1% as disenchanted Labor voters turned to the Greens’ Simon Richardson.

In both Ballina and Lismore, Greens candidates for the first time topped the Labor candidates, leaving Mr Richardson and Lismore candidate Sue Stock in the second place after the distribution of preferences.

In Tweed, Greens candidate Andrea Vickers’ 8% almost doubled her party’s 2007 vote , while in the seat of Clarence, Janet Cavanaugh’s vote actually fell slightly despite the drubbing received by Labor candidate Colin Clague, whose vote tumbled to a little over 10%.

Clarence Mayor Richie Williamson’s run as an independent candidate in Clarence turned out far less of a threat to Mr Cansdell than expected.

Mr Williamson managed to get into second position after the distribution of preferences, but that still left his vote at only 27.2% next to Mr Cansdell’s 72.8%.



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