IN DANGER: Despite winning his highest ever primary vote, Larry Anthony could lose Richmond because of a strong Green vote.
IN DANGER: Despite winning his highest ever primary vote, Larry Anthony could lose Richmond because of a strong Green vote.

RAZOR?S EDGE

By STEPHANIE FORESTER

SATURDAY'S historic swing to the Government may have given sitting Nationals MP Larry Anthony his strongest primary vote ? but it might not be enough to save him from the steamrolling popularity of The Greens.

The Howard Government recorded a significant increase in its majority on the weekend and yesterday looked like seizing control of the Senate ? the first time in 23 years Australians have handed a government the keys to the house of review.

Locally, Coalition support translated into big gains for Page MP Ian Causley, who has transformed the marginal seat into a safe bet for the Nationals with a 6.6 per cent swing in his favour.

Meanwhile, Mr Anthony's Richmond electorate remained too close to call last night, with the Labor Party's Justine Elliot breathing down his neck for a spot in Canberra.

The seat will be decided by Greens preferences, which will favour Ms Elliot, and postal and pre-poll votes, which traditionally favour conservative candidates.

With almost 75 per cent of Richmond votes counted, Mr Anthony could become the nation's first casualty of the Iraq war.

While The Greens are hopeful the strength of the peace movement in Byron Shire was enough to oust Mr Anthony, Coalition sources revealed that the anti-war vote had 'bit hard'.

Ms Susanna Flower polled almost 13 per cent of primary votes in Richmond, leading Coalition and Greens pundits to speculate Richmond would be a safe Greens seat within the decade.

"If we lose Richmond this time, we'll lose it for good," said a Coalition source.

For three generations the Anthony dynasty has represented Richmond. Mr Anthony's grandfather took the baton in 1937 and passed it to former deputy PM Doug Anthony in 1957. Mr Anthony has held it since 1996.



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