Anthony set to concede Richmond
By KEN SAPWELL and ALEX EASTON
RICHMOND MP Larry Anthony, the Federal Children and Youth Affairs Minister, is expected to concede defeat in the battle to hold his seat today.
With only 320 votes separating the candidates, Labor's Justine Elliot yesterday afternoon claimed a razor-thin victory.
Mr Anthony will become the only government minister, and one of only a handful of Coalition MPs, to lose their seats. In the process, Richmond has become the nation's fourth most marginal seat.
Mr Anthony's office was not officially prepared to throw the game away last night. However, Nationals insiders agreed privately it would be almost impossible for Mr Anthony to claw back enough votes to win and he planned to concede today.
Local party officials laid Labor's win squarely at the feet of Byron voters, with one of Mr Anthony's media advisors, Claire Kimball, saying they had decided the outcome of the election.
Nationals scrutineers said the final nail in Mr Anthony's electoral coffin was a block of about 400 pre-poll votes from Byron Bay booths which came to light yesterday and strongly favoured Ms Elliot.
"Byron voters basically dictated to the Tweed who their next MP will be," Ms Kimball said.
As the Nationals were grimly contemplating the loss of a seat that some have speculated they may never hold again, Justine Elliot was celebrating.
"I would like to thank the people of Richmond who have given me the honor of being their representative in Parliament," she said. "Starting from this moment I will be working hard to stand up for the Far North Coast in Canberra."