Labor battling history in Page

IF JANELLE Saffin retains the seat of Page and the Coalition wins overall at next month's election, she will have overturned the trend of the past two decades.

Since 1990 Page has been a bellwether seat, changing hands in sync with the elected government.

The popular Harry Woods was the first Labor MP to win the seat in 1990, ending decades of National Party dominance, but lost it two elections later to Ian Causley in the Howard landslide of 1996.

Mr Causley held the seat for the next 11 years, retiring before Ms Saffin took the seat in Kevin Rudd's victory of 2007 and enhanced her lead in 2010.

Today it may not be the most marginal seat in the country, but with just a 4.2% margin for Labor in 2010 any incumbent knows they must work hard to deliver.

Covering 16,000sq km of mostly rural northern NSW, Page takes in the Richmond Valley and the northern side of the Clarence Valley, with major centres including Lismore, Ballina and Grafton.

It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country (8.1% in the 2011 Census), and Australia's highest proportion of low-income households, (78.9%) so it needs loving attention.

Single-parent families are well above the national average, at 19.5% compared with 15.9%.

Its population of 132,872 has a median age of 44, and 20% of residents are over 65, compared with the national average of 14%.

School education is the biggest employer in the electorate at 5.8%, with other major industries including cafes and restaurants (4.2%), hospitals (3.8%) and residential care (3.4%).

While economic considerations are certainly the biggest concern across the electorate, the Greens also have a place in Page.

A 2010 candidate and current Ballina councillor, Jeff Johnson received 8.6% of the vote then - a 0.5% increase from 2007.

Yet the treechange and seachange effect of former urban dwellers influencing the vote is not as established in Page as it is in neighbouring Richmond.

Page remains the most rural of all North Coast seats.


Population: 132,872

Median age: 44

Percentage of population over 65: 20.1%

Percentage of population under 14: 18.8%

Median weekly household income: $824

Median monthly mortgage repayments: $1400

Unemployment: 8.1% (national average 5.6%)

The most common occupations: professionals 16.3%, technicians and trades workers 13.7%, labourers 13.6%, managers 12.8%, and clerical and administrative workers 12.5%.

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