Will the Nationals lose Lismore at the next election?
HOLDING one of the most marginal seats in the country with a minuscule 0.2 per cent margin, Thomas George could be the last Nationals member for Lismore after he retires in 2019.
A new poll which has the town abuzz, shows voters are interested in supporting candidates who made clean and renewable energy a priority.
On Monday, the Nature Conservation Council commissioned ReachTEL to poll people in the Lismore electorate on their voting intentions and to gauge attitudes on energy and climate policy issues.
According to the poll, the Nationals are on course to lose Lismore to the ALP: 43 per cent Nationals to 57 per cent ALP on a two-party preferred basis.
The poll also showed 72 per cent of voters want coal-burning power stations replaced by clean energy by 2030 and want the NSW Government to develop a climate change plan to reduce emissions to zero (currently the government has no plan just an aspiration to make NSW carbon neutral by 2050).
Voters were also asked if they felt they would be more likely to vote for a party that established a fund to boost clean energy on the North Coast and 61.3 per cent agreed.
Sixty-one per cent of voters said they were more likely to vote for a political party that establishes a fund to boost clean energy on the North Coast and 67 per cent agreed they were more likely to vote for a political party that increases solar and wind power and reduces our reliance on coal power in NSW.
After scraping through the last election in 2015, Mr George narrowly held onto Lismore against the Greens, who claimed victory in nearby Ballina.
However, Mr George said he was surprised with the poll results.
”I just wondered about the questions they did ask, did they ask everyone in the community if they were they happy with the government spending $27 million to buy back to coal seam gas licences in this area?',” he said.
"I want the people and the Lismore electorate to know that to have a voice in government you can achieve things.”
Mr George said while his retirement was on the horizon, he was going to be hard at work until the last moment.
"While I have announced I am not standing at the next election, that's 20 months away and there's a lot more work to do without worrying about the polls,” he said.
"I want to assure everyone in the electorate I will be working right up into the last hour of the last day of my term.”
ALP member Janelle Saffin, who lost out to Kevin Hogan in the last Federal election, said clean and renewable energy was not a policy choice.
”It is something that needs to be done,”she said.
”Our communities are in support of such policies, all publicly elected people have a duty to pursue clean/renewable energy (and) it is mindless that it is still being talked about, we need deed and action, not talk.”
Nature Conservation Council chief executive Kate Smolski said the phone surveyed 753 people, and the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 per cent.
"The polling shows the Nationals are set to lose and the party's climate and energy policies could tip the contest either way,” Ms Smolski said .
"If the Nationals want to retain Lismore, they should put forward a candidate who'll put climate change high on the agenda and push within the Coalition for the rapid shift to renewables.”