Party heavyweights brought in to boost local chances
THE Northern Rivers is shaping as a major battleground in the upcoming state election, with the Berejiklian Government's future hanging in the balance.
Labor has been tipped as the hot favourite to win the state seat of Tweed by bookmakers and political experts, with the party also targeting the neighbouring seat of Lismore, with former prime minister Kevin Rudd due to visit Murwillumbah this Saturday in a bid to promote the campaign of Country Labor candidate for Lismore Janelle Saffin.
Mr Rudd is one of several Labor bigwigs to visit the Tweed in the past few months, including Labor heavyweight Anthony Albanese, State Opposition leader Luke Foley and Shadow Primary Industries minister Mick Veitch.
The visits come ahead of the state election in March, with the country seats of Lismore, Tweed and Ballina considered marginal.
Political commentator Malcolm Mackerras told the Tweed Daily News it was "very important for Labor to pick up Tweed and Lismore to win the election".
"They are very marginal seats and the odds are that the Nationals will retain either Tweed or Lismore. I'd say they'd retain one of the two but not both," he said.
"I'll predict Labor to win the seat of Tweed and the Nationals to hold Lismore."
According to Sportsbet, in Tweed, Labor is currently the $1.67 favourite to edge out the Nationals who sit at $2.20, while in Lismore, which includes Mur'bah, the Nationals are heavy favourites to win at $1.55 with Labor sitting at $4.40.
At a state level, Sportsbet is tipping a close run, with the Coalition to retain power at $1.60 and $2.25 for Labor to unseat the Berejiklian Government.
At the last state election, Tweed MP Geoff Provest received 20,800 votes (47 per cent of the formal votes), defeating Labor's Ron Goodman who received 15,867 votes (36 per cent).
However, according to the Mackerras Pendulum, a 3.2 per cent swing with preferences could see Labor claim the seat of what was once considered National Party heartland.
Ms Saffin, who has previously served as the Federal Member for Page, said it was "very important" for Labor to win country seats in the Northern Rivers to win the election.
In the Tweed, Labor last won in 2007.
Mr Mackerras said Labor would retain the Federal seat of Richmond, held by Justine Elliot.