Justine Elliot with husband Craig and children Alex and Joe. Ms Elliot survived a swing of 4.38 per cent against her.
Justine Elliot with husband Craig and children Alex and Joe. Ms Elliot survived a swing of 4.38 per cent against her. Crystal Spencer

Win might not save Elliot

LABOR Minister Justine Elliot has retained Richmond, but her job on the front bench in Canberra remains in doubt with a hung Parliament almost certain.

A swing of 4.38 per cent in the polls against Ms Elliot was damaging but not enough to topple her as a predicted voter backlash claimed other Labor seats across New South Wales and Queensland.

While the battle for Richmond is over, Ms Elliot and the Australian public now face a nail-biting couple of days’ wait to see which major party will lead the country.

Should the Coalition make enough seats, or successfully form a minority government, Ms Elliot will be out of the Aging portfolio after only one term.

“It’s a nerve racking wait to see what the outcome will be. All we can do is wait,” Ms Elliot said yesterday, with husband Craig and children Alex and Joe by her side.

“No matter what happens I will keep fighting to deliver for the North Coast.

“It’s an honour and privilege to serve the electorate.”

According to the Australian Electoral Commission last night, Ms Elliot had gained 39.43 per cent of the primary vote, but was ahead with 56.91pc of the two-party preferred vote for the seat.

The Nationals defied predictions the party was finished in the seat, with candidate Alan Hunter polling 21.75pc of first preferences.

This was down 15.23pc on the party’s 2007 performance but higher than Liberal candidate Joan van Lieshout.

The Tweed Shire councillor polled only 18.55pc of the primaries, just beating out Greens candidate Joe Ebono on 15.91pc.

This was the first time since 1996 the Liberals have contested Richmond. The seat, which is centred on Tweed Heads, has traditionally been a Nationals haven.

Ms Elliot has held the seat since 2004.

Late yesterday it was believed 5.15pc of the Richmond votes were informal, a rise of 0.87pc.

Mr Hunter said he was already planning another run for Richmond at the next Federal election.

“I’m reasonably pleased with the result, given the short time we had to do the campaign,” he said.

“I’m determined to stay in there and give it another run if the party wants me.”

The retired farmer said the results were better than he expected.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t get the seat, but I’m grateful the electorate gave me what they gave me.”

Cr van Lieshout yesterday said: “It’s disappointing, but there are still votes to be counted.

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