Greens candidate declares victory in Ballina
GREENS candidate for Ballina Tamara smith has declared herself the new member for Ballina in an historic victory over a long-held safe Nationals seat.
However, Nationals candidate Kris Beavis is not ready to concede the seat, pointing out that absentee and pre-poll votes - accounting for a full third of the total votes - were yet to be counted.
Celebrating with supporters at Ocean Shores tonight, Ms Smith paid tribute to a grass roots campaign inspired by Federal Greens MP Adam Bandt's historic victory in 2007 in the seat of Melbourne.
The declaration followed her Labor opponent Paul Spooner conceding defeat at Ballina and offering his congratulations to Ms Smith.
Mr Spooner said this campaign had changed the seat of Ballina forever by breaking the Nationals' hold on it.
TOP LOCAL STORIES ONLINE TODAY
He congratulated his supporters for what he described as a massive effort and said he intended to contest the seat for Labor again in 2019.
The Labor concession speech came despite the Nationals saying the seat was too close to call tonight, particularly with a record 33% of the vote cast before the polling booths opened and yet to be counted.
The mood in the Nationals' Ballina office was quite relaxed with the Coalition confirmed winners of the overall election and about 50 supporters watching the election coverage on TV.
But up in Ocean Shores, Ms Smith was taking calls from national media and the Greens campaign headquarters in Sydney, urging her to declare victory as early as 9pm.
The entire night was a celebration for the Greens, as the Byron Shire polling booths which came in early heavily favoured the party.
The huge upset has changed the dynamics of the once safe Nationals seat permanently.
With a primary vote just 5% behind the Nationals on 29%, Ms Smith still needs Labor and independent preferences to claim victory but should get over the line quite comfortably according to pundits and party scrutineers.
"We knew it was possible, but the proportion between us and Labor was always going to be crucial," Greens campaign manager Graeme Williams said.
The CSG issue was definitely a big factor in the result."