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Ballina candidates say coal seam gas means it will be too close for a result on election day

Story by Lucy Cormack
Photo by Lucy Cormack

In the 27 years since it was first contested, the sunny seat of Ballina has known only one MP, but counts on Saturday night showed the sunshine could finally turn Green. 
With 51.2 per cent of the votes counted, Ballina showed a 30 per cent swing from the Nationals to Greens candidate Tamara Smith.

The issue of coal seam gas has changed the political landscape in Ballina.The issue of coal seam gas has changed the political landscape in Ballina. Photo: Lucy CormackLabor looked set for a safe gain at around 8.30pm on Saturday, but by 9pm after preference counts showed Ms Smith with 56.4 per cent of the votes, to Nationals' Kris Beavis' 43.6 per cent.

Labor's Paul Spooner conceded defeat to Tamara Smith on Saturday night.

Retiring National Don Page has sat in the seat since 1988 and said he would be disappointed to see Mr Beavis lose the race.
The Nationals won Ballina on a 25 per cent margin in 2011, but the issue of coal seam ignited a swing in the north coast seat.
In Sydney Mike Baird has called the election a referendum on privatisation, but standing proudly in her own school first-time Greens candidate and English teacher Tamara Smith said: "in Ballina, it's a referendum on CSG."

Labor's Paul Spooner was relying on Greens preferences to cripple the Nationals' 24.6 per cent margin, a task he managed early on in the count.

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