Greens MP Returned with Increased Majority

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Greens MP Tamara Smith (Ballina electorate) will return to NSW parliament after a convincing win last Saturday night. She beat strong contender Ben Franklin (Nationals) 60.83 per cent to 39.17 per cent after preferences were distributed.

The NSW Ballina electorate covers both Byron and Ballina Shires.

The total percentage of first preference votes for other candidates included James Wright with 1.58 per cent (Keep Sydney Open), Cathy Blasonato with 2.38 per cent (Animal Justice Party), Asren Pugh with 25.17 per cent (Country Labor), Lisa Mcdermott with 2.04 per cent (Sustainable Australia). Ben Franklin’s first preference vote was 37.48 per cent (Nationals) of the electorate.

Despite Nationals candidate Ben Franklin earning a higher first preference vote, preferences flowing from Labor and the minor parties led the Greens to victory.

All results are sourced from www.vtr.elections.nsw.gov.au/home.

Significantly, Country Labor candidate and newcomer Asren Pugh took 25.17 per cent of the first preference vote with 11,439 formal votes.

With the Liberal National coalition returned to power in NSW, the Ballina electorate is establishing itself as an alternative enclave to ‘business as usual’ in Sydney.

Ms Smith’s re-election also sends a signal to Byron councillors, who are led by the ‘progressive’ Greens block under acting mayor Michael Lyon.

The MP and councillors have been at odds over the way development is being carried out in Byron Bay; in the election campaign, Ms Smith was the only major candidate calling for a halt to major developments, especially the bypass and bus interchange. The bus interchange is slated for the rail corridor and comes without any community consultation. And the two markets at the Butler Street will be forced to move to an unknown location until the road works are completed.

Other issues that may have helped her over the line for Byron Shire voters include a total opposition to the contentious West Byron urban development, which is slated opposite the Arts and Industry Estate on Ewingsdale Road. The Greens’ stand on climate change, environmental protection, constrained and sustainable development and renewable energy may have also played a part. In that regard, this electorate is becoming more ideologically distant from much of regional NSW and Sydney.

It’s also an advantage to be an incumbent MP in an election.

Source: Echonet

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