Larry Anthony: Justin Elliot’s margin of nearly 9 per cent for Labor in Richmond will probably prove too much for the Nationals’ candidate to pull back.
Larry Anthony: Justin Elliot’s margin of nearly 9 per cent for Labor in Richmond will probably prove too much for the Nationals’ candidate to pull back.

Anthony tips Labor victory

LABOR will hold on to Richmond at the next Federal election, the seat’s former Nationals MP Larry Anthony has predicted.

Mr Anthony, who was ousted by Labor’s Justine Elliot in 2004, made the prediction yesterday after news broke that the Nationals’ candidate for the seat, Tania Murdock, had quit.

“Page will probably fall to the conservatives, even though they have a hard-working local member (in Janelle Saffin), but Richmond will be retained by Labor,” he said.

However, that prediction would have held regardless of whether Ms Murdock stayed in the race, courtesy of Ms Elliot’s near 9 per cent margin.

Richmond, one of the original 75 House of Representatives seats created at Federation, was one of the jewels in the Nationals’ crown. It was first held by Protectionist Sir ThomasEwing, followed by banker-turned farmer Sir Walter Massey-Greeneuntil 1922, when the newly-formed Country Party fielded Roland Green as a candidate.

The Country Party, and its successor the National Party, held the seat continuously for the next 68 years, until 1990 when Labor’s Neville Newell took the seat for two termsbefore returning it to the Nationals when Larry Anthony became the third member of his family, following his father and former Deputy Prime Minister, Doug, and grandfather, Larry Snr, to represent Richmond.

Over that same period Richmond became increasingly urban, contracting away from the Richmond Valley to the Tweed and Brunswick Valleys.

Today, although stretching past Tyalgum and Jiggi and south to Lennox Head, it is dominated by the city of Tweed Heads, which accounts for more than half its population.

However, despite that shift away from its country roots, Mr Anthony said the Nationals could still take back Richmond, provided it fielded a strong enough candidate.

The party was already getting on to that job last night, after a meeting of the seat’s executive decided to open nominations for a new preselection contest this morning.

Campaign manager Murray Lees said nominations would remain open for two weeks, with the preselection vote to be held on June 19, to coincide with the vote for the State preselection for Tweed.

While Mrs Murdock had been the only candidate to field in the original preselection, Mr Lees said he expected a different response this time around given the Government’s slump in the polls.

Mr Lees said the party would consider candidates who were not currently members of the Nationals.



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