Richmond Valley Council Deputy Mayor Shirley Wheatley receiving how to vote cards for the Clarence election at the polling booth in Canterbury St, Casino.
Richmond Valley Council Deputy Mayor Shirley Wheatley receiving how to vote cards for the Clarence election at the polling booth in Canterbury St, Casino. Megan Kinninment

By-election catches some off guard

THE POLLING booths were open and the how-to-vote pamphlets were being handed out, but Saturday's Clarence by-election caught some voters off guard with some only realising the election was on when they came to town to shop.

The by-election, called when MP Steve Cansdell resigned in September after admitting he'd falsified a statutory declaration to avoid a speeding fine, was won by National Chris Gulaptis.

While the Nationals kept the seat with Mr Gulaptis winning around 56% of the primary vote, Cansdell's resignation stung the party - the Labor candidate, Peter Ellem got around 28%.

This was half the Nationals' vote but a big improvement on Labor's drubbing in March.

When The Northern Star visited the Casino Civic Hall polling booth on Saturday morning, voters appeared largely resigned about having to come out to vote in the by-election, while many expressed regret that Cansdell had stepped down.

"I thought Cansdell was switched on and I was a bit disappointed by what happened," fitter and turner Tim Murphy, of Casino said.

"He was your main people-person. He had a down-to-earth approach and that's changed now.

"I guess we'll have to see what happens."

Handing out how-to-vote leaflets at the polling booth in Canterbury St was Page MP, Janelle Saffin, who said several voters were not aware the election was called.

On her way to vote was Shirley Wheatley, Deputy Mayor of Richmond Valley Council, who said she hoped not too many were caught out by the by-election.

Looking at the numbers: The swing is made clearer by looking at the two-party preferred vote where the results are about 65% for the Nationals and 35% for Labor. This was a significant swing of 16% to Labor.

In the State election in March, Steve Cansdell won the seat convincingly with 81.4% against Labor's 18.6%.

In that election there was a strong vote (17.6%) for one independent and most of those votes drifted to Cansdell.

In March, the Labor candidate scored just 10.2% of the first preference votes, barely more than the Greens candidate (6.7%), most of whose votes drifted to Labor.

 

Candidate Results

Chris Gulaptis, Nationals 12,366

Peter Ellem, Labor 6478

Janet Cavanaugh, Greens1535

Clinton Mead, Outdoor Recreation Party 574

Wade Walker, Independent 495

Bethany Camac, Christian Democrats 442

Stewart, Scott-Irving, Independent 182

David Robinson, Democrats 144

Confirmed Electoral Commission figures after the check count yesterday afternoon.

 

How do you feel about the by-election? Leave a comment below.



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