Last month’s federal election was a vote for change. Local legend, comedian and author, Mandy Nolan had an excellent go at unseating the incumbent, Labor’s Justine Elliot. She came close. Because it was not an electorate that was going to change the government it did not get a lot of national media. But still, it is worth having a closer look at this result.
Mandy Was Close
On past election figures, Mandy and the Greens only needed a swing of around 5% to win. She nearly got that (4.4%) but the problem was the three-way race changed too much for the preferences to work for the Greens. There were swings against both Nationals (-12.7%) and Labor (-2.8%). At the time of posting this newsletter, 83% of the count had been done. Labor’s Justine Elliot had received 26,786 votes, and Nationals Kimberly Hone came third with 22,365 votes. Mandy was even winning the count at one time but is currently second with 22,913 votes.
The Nationals have always been the primary vote winner in this electorate – but not this time. It was basically the big swing against the Nationals that lost it for the Greens. If the Nationals remained the winning ticket, then Mandy only needed to beat Labor to jump ahead of Nats on preferences. In this election, Labor won the primary vote, Greens second and the Nats came third. The crucial deal breaker was the Nationals will preference Labor over the Greens and that is why Labor is predicted to win even before all counting is complete.
Mandy has said she will contest the seat again in the next election if preselected. She will probably win if the seat keeps moving towards the progressive end of the spectrum. Unless Justine Elliot raises her profile and becomes a junior minster or Labor is doing such a sterling job no one wants to upset the status quo.
Marginal Seat Now
The other electorates in the Northern Rivers, Page and Cowper, each returned National Party Members. Independent Cas Heise was close to upsetting the outcome in Cowper. This was the seat that independent Rob Oakeshott once held – he who was part of the balance of power during Julia Gillard’s term. All these three federal seats can expect to be in play in the future as more progressives move to the area and they are no longer National Party safe seats.
The good news is that Richmond is now a marginal electorate. Both state and federal governments will now have to pay more attention to us as we are not a safe seat anymore. Look out for all that pork in a barrel heading our way!