Labor poised for historic election win in three-way race

The stage is set for Tenterfield to have its first Labor MP since Bill McCarthy in the mid-1980s, if the pundits are correct in the outcome of distribution of preferences in Saturday's state poll, when the magic button is pressed on Wednesday.

On Tuesday both Nationals candidate Austin Curtin and the Greens' Sue Higginson conceded the victory to Labor's Janelle Saffin, with election analyst Antony Green making the same call on Monday afternoon. 

We're in! Alan Dye was flying the flag for Janelle Saffin and the Labor Party at the Tenterfield Memorial Hall polling booth on Saturday.

We're in! Alan Dye was flying the flag for Janelle Saffin and the Labor Party at the Tenterfield Memorial Hall polling booth on Saturday.


Mr Curtin said there's only a miracle chance he'll come out on top once preferences are distributed, and his information is that preferences won't flow strongly enough towards the Greens to put Sue Higginson in a winning position.

While Mr Curtin polled strongly in the west of the electorate, support for left-leaning parties generally increased closer to the coast, split between Labor and the Greens. Mr Curtin pulled 39.94 per cent of first preference votes electorate-wide, ahead of a close tussle between Ms Saffin (25.67) and Ms Higginson (24.29).

Independent Greg Bennett polled best of the also-rans, with 5.27 per cent of first preferences. Second preferences from these voters could in theory put the Greens ahead of Labor, in which case Labor preferences would then put the Greens over the winning line. There's only an outside chance of that happening, however, particularly given Mr Bennett's conservative stance.

The much more likely scenario is that the Greens remain in third position, with their preferences going to Labor on exclusion to offer a resounding win to Ms Saffin.

At Tenterfield Shire polling stations the Nationals had a clear majority with 54.24 per cent of first preferences, ahead of Labor (19.85) and the Greens (11.85). The Independent Mr Bennett polled better here than the coast, with 8.87 per cent of first preferences.

Nearly a third of the shire's voters opted to pre-poll at Tenterfield Memorial Hall ahead of official election day.

The district is a political canvas of contrasts with Tenterfield's inclusion in the Lismore electorate involving it in a very close race and a change of political party representation. Meanwhile the Nationals' Adam Marshall romped home in Tenterfield's former Northern Tablelands electorate (before boundaries were redrawn in 2013), with three-out-of-four voters putting a '1' against his name on the ballot sheet.

The results appear to bely the Electoral Commission's mandate to draw electoral boundaries with regard to 'community of interest'.

Dodged a bullet?

Ms Higginson said she loved every minute of the campaign, relishing the opportunity to put big issues on the agenda including a plan to build the agricultural sector and see a Food and Fibre Hub developed in the north east of the state.

"It was also our positive campaign that saw the two major parties roll out their barrels of promises to the people of our region - that is what happens in a seat as marginal as ours."

She congratulated the main candidates and her supporters who were 'disciplined in their preferencing' to get Ms Saffin over the line.

"On a personal note I suspect I have dodged a bullet.

"The Parliament that will now form was not the Parliament I was working hard to be a part of. I was hoping to be a part of a much more progressive Parliament where we could work seriously to do the heavy lifting our State and Region needs to steer us in the best direction in transitioning times and circumstances.

"That said, I would have loved the opportunity to represent our region and I would have given it my all. Along with many, I long for the time, which will come, where we move from the two party system, which I have seen first hand, is dominated by vested interest control through corporate donations to those parties and allows dirty campaign tricks and smear campaigns.

"Once we move from this I am certain our communities and our environment will be much better served by our Parliaments and we will be much freer to engage in a kinder type of politics."