Page – Election 2010

ALP 2.4%

Incumbent MP
Janelle Saffin, since 2007.

Geography
North coast of NSW. Page covers the towns of Lismore, Ballina, Kyogle, Casino, Grafton and Yamba.

Redistribution
Page was slightly expanded to include areas south of Grafton. This had no impact on the margin.

History
Page was first created for the 1984 election. The first member for Page was Ian Robinson (NAT), who had previously been member for Cowper since 1963. Robinson was defeated in 1990 by Harry Woods (ALP) after 27 years in federal parliament.

Woods was defeated by former state minister Ian Causley (NAT) at the 1996 election. Wood proceeded to win the by-election for Causley’s former state seat of Clarence and went on to serve as a minister in Bob Carr’s second term.

Causley served in federal Parliament for eleven years, retiring in 2007. The ALP preselected former state upper house MP and advisor to Jose Ramos Horta, Janelle Saffin, while the Nationals preselected former Mayor of Maclean Chris Gulaptis. Despite a 5.5% margin for the Nationals, the ALP won Page on a 7.8% swing.

Candidates

  • Jeff Johnson (Greens) – Ballina councillor.
  • Janelle Saffin (Labor) – Member for Page since 2007, previously Member of the Legislative Council 1995-2003.
  • Kevin Hogan (Nationals)
  • Merle Summerville (Independent)
  • Julia Melland (Democrats)
  • Doug Behn (Independent)

Political situation
Changing demographics have made Page stronger for the ALP, but it remains an incredibly marginal seat. Page is one of the key seats the Nationals will be aiming to regain.

2007 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Chris GulaptisNAT36,81343.05-6.68
Janelle SaffinALP35,63641.67+8.60
Theo JongenGRN6,9308.10-1.46
Doug BehnIND1,5251.78+0.40
Rhonda AvasaluCDP1,4301.67+1.67
Julia MellandDEM9101.06+0.79
Tony KaneIND8771.03+1.03
Mirian VegaFF7840.92+0.76
Ben BeattyLDP4620.54+0.54
John CulverwellCEC1430.17-0.78

2007 two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Janelle SaffinALP44,77052.36+7.83
Chris GulaptisNAT40,74047.64-7.83

Results do not take into consideration effects of the redistribution.

Booth breakdown
Page covers five local government areas: the entirety of Kyogle and Richmond Valley LGAs and parts of Lismore, Ballina and Clarence Valley LGAs. I have divided booths between these five local government areas. The ALP won a majority in all five LGAs, although Lismore LGA was won with 57% of the vote, while the ALP only won 50-52% in the other four LGAs. The Greens performed particularly well in Lismore and Kyogle.

The ALP won all but one booth in the major centres of Lismore, Grafton and Casino, while the Nationals won some large booths in Yamba, Ballina and Kyogle.

Polling booths in Page. Ballina in blue, Lismore in green, Richmond Valley in orange, Kyogle in red, Clarence Valley in yellow.
Voter groupGRN %ALP 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Clarence Valley5.7652.3720,08623.49
Lismore11.0357.1717,11720.02
Ballina8.2050.4115,87618.57
Richmond Valley5.3352.2812,25214.33
Kyogle12.3650.214,5375.31
Other votes8.7649.7315,64218.29
Polling booths in Page, showing results of the 2007 election.
Polling booths in Page, showing results of the 2007 election around Ballina and Lismore.
Polling booths in Page, showing results of the 2007 election in Lismore.
Polling booths in Page, showing results of the 2007 election in Casino.
Polling booths in Page, showing results of the 2007 election in Grafton.

35 COMMENTS

  1. For anyone at the AEC reading this – your booth location data is complete shit! Your date here has some booths marked in the wrong LGA, and one booth that’s about 50kms from where it is supposed to be. I hope no one relies on AEC data to locate their nearest polling booth on election day!

    I’ll come back later and write about what happened last election and the characteristics of the area. In summary though, Page kind of behaved like the regional Qld seats which swung big – big swings in what would often be though of as socially conservative areas (and particularly places that swung to the Coalition in 2004).

    Nice work Ben, shame the AEC data isn’t more reliable.

  2. Labor should win this on current polling, but it will be interesting to see how the Liberals go vs the Nationals here and in Lyne.

  3. One interesting thing there – Robinson had also previously been a state MP, which means all four MPs who’ve represented Page have also served in state parliament.

    The effect of demographic change here is not as pronounced as in Richmond. Although it clearly has an underlying impact in parts of the electorate, it seems that the over-riding national swing was the key factor in shifting this seat. The strong Green-voting areas north of Lismore were transferred to Richmond prior to 2007, depriving Page of some of the more significant culturally shifting impacts.

    One feature worth noting is the high proportion of persons aged over 65, this is both due to younger people moving to the cities, and people retiring to the area, hence the high proportion of seniors shows up both in inland towns and on the coast. Lismore is the only area with an above average proportion of people in the 15-24 age group, courtesy of the university.

    Although it was relatively marginal, Woods’ win in 1990 was something of an upset. It came alongside the much bigger shock in neighbouring Richmond, where Nationals leader Charles Blunt was defeated by the ALP’s Neville Newell, courtesy of the impact of a 23% vote for anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott, who narrowly missed out on overtaking Labor, in which case she would’ve presumably won the seat. According to people involved in Caldicott’s campaign, she was apparently, strangely, successful in taking many votes off the Nats – a lot of ‘wives of National Party voters’ apparently voted for her, and indeed the 10% drop in the Nats primary vote suggests there must be some truth to this. Another ‘Green’ Independent, Martin Frohlich, ran in Page, receiving 7.7% of the vote, whether or not he had any similar success in taking votes off the Nats, which may have contributed to Woods’ victory, I don’t know, though I believe Labor did have some confidence they could win Page, based on previous success for the ALP at state level in the Clarence Valley, whereas Richmond had not been targeted and was a total shock.

    Woods only just held on in 1993, winning by less than 200 votes, and indeed at one stage in the count the margin was in the single digits. When subsequently elected to state parliament he also had a tough time holding his seat, only holding on in 1999 courtesy of exhausting preferences from a Liberal candidate.

    Page swung to Labor in both 1998 and 2001, though at the time it took in the areas with the stronger Greens base, which may have been the main influence. It then swung back to the Coalition in 2004, but on all occasions there was significant variation across individual booths.

    The strength of Labor’s 2007 result clearly shows up in the individual booth results, where there were some quite remarkable swings. In places such as Lismore, Ballina, Alstonville and Kyogle, the swing came on the back of what appears to be a general trend in favour of the ALP over recent elections (and strengthening Green vote), but in others, such as Casino and Grafton (very low Green vote), and these were the key to the Labor win, it was a significant swing back to Labor, either approaching or exceeding the 1993 vote, following generally strong results for the Nats at intervening elections, particularly 2004.

  4. Said I would, so I better.

    Ben has corrected the maps here so that the errant booths are now shown in the correct locations. Awesome. Although, you probably shouldn’t bother Ben, because it looks like there are errors like that in other seats too, and it’s probably not practical to go and correct them all. Good on you though.

  5. Nick, what would you consider the community impression of Ms Saffin in Page (you’re in Page right?).

  6. Hamish, sorry, I was away for a while there so didn’t see your question earlier. I actually think she has made a rather good impression – gets plenty of press coverage. There are various individuals and community groups who feel she hasn’t done as good a job as a local MP as they’d like (me included), but I think she’s managed to cast a solid enough public image that she should be safely returned, especially in the absence of a high profile challenger.

  7. Didn’t a hospital just close in Lismore? That could work both ways:

    “This is why we need a hospital takeover v Look what your Government does to the health system.” Of course neither are strictly true.

  8. Yes, I hadn’t actually been following this story very closely. It’s a private rehab facility that had only recently opened. Terrible for staff and patients involved, but we still have two large general hospitals, one public and one private (the latter where Tony Abbott had a brief stay during the 2004 campaign). A very interesting added element to the debate nonetheless I guess.

  9. A brief update on candidates. I’m told that Anne Hunter, Liberal candidate in 1996, has been raising her profile around Grafton lately, leading to speculation she may be standing again. The Greens candidate will be decided after a postal ballot between two nominees, with the results to be announced on April 29.

  10. Any word on whether the Libs plan to stand in Page? The Nats would be livid if they did.

    Also, I meant to ask Nick, have you ever been to 20,000 Cows restaurant in Lismore, aka the best restaurant on earth?

  11. I’m not up to speed with any other news about the Liberals beyond the previous comment, but certainly if they found someone from the Clarence Valley it might make things interesting, and certainly cause problems for the Nats since they didn’t seem to be able to find a very strong candidate, or one who lives in the electorate.

    Actually, strangely enough I’ve never been there, but it is a very highly rated restaurant – must go one day.

  12. Ballina councillor Jeff Johnson has been selected as the Greens candidate. I believe he is the first Greens candidate from the Ballina Shire to ever contest a state or federal election, and in a further piece of trivia, I also believe he is the first candidate from the Ballina Shire for any party to contest Page since 2001.

    Sorry I’ve been out of action for a while. Been quite busy, and then I’ve had some kind of technical problem blocking access to this site. Looks like it’s fixed now.

  13. Well, yes. It’s just a 2% margin and you can’t rule out the Nats given that before 2007 they held the seat for 11 straight years. A Lib candidate may be problematic and I’ll need Nicks advice on the Nats anti-CC BS goes down up there?

  14. Actually Hogan has been trying to take a more moderate line on climate change, but clearly it would play differently in different parts of the seat. What has been gaining some attention is that whole Peter Spencer/property rights thing. There’s an active group of supporters around here who’ve been organising public meetings, etc, and getting a fair bit of media attention. Nats would seem to be trying to tap into that.

    Interesting thing is still no candidate from the Clarence Valley.

  15. Larry Anthony calls Janelle Saffin ‘hard-working.’ She should use that in her ads. I haven’t heard anything about the Libs in Page. Perhaps their concentrating on Richmond?

    Nick, how are you going up there? Not too close to the tornado I hope.

  16. Very heavy rain all night here, but thankfully we’re a bit further inland. Our candidate’s place is thankfully a bit out of town and away from the impacted area I believe, and he’s in Newcastle at the moment so he’s fine.

  17. I was almost going to post that story the other day, particularly as I got the feeling Alex might’ve been referring to Ben’s profile for the history of Richmond.

  18. They actually rang me, seriously-now I know that’s what it was, but I declined because I was in the middle of doing a few other things and didn’t have ‘7-8 minutes’ to spare.

  19. Agree Hamish, the Lindsay margin is a fraction inflated. Perhaps a swing around the “Queensland Marginals” would have been more believable. The Page result is fascinating. At the 07 election, primaries were 41.7/43.1/8.1 and on this poll are 38/38/14. The loss in the ALP vote to the Greens is understandable, but why the drop in the coalition vote too, against the national trend. I doubt it can all be explained by Saffin against Hogan – Nick, perhaps you have a theory?

  20. I think Saffin has been seen as being a hard-working local MP. The Greens figure is extraordinary, particularly given Saffin is quite left-wing. Excuse me whilst I go draft a media release on it. (btw, what’s the sample size, anyone?)

  21. Perhaps, there are some differences between Page and, say, Braddon – reliance on logging, employment diversity, university, popularity of local member (?), state politics backlack (I would think that a Labor/Green backlash will probably be greater in Braddon than Page).

    Having said that, I expect Labor to win at least 4 of the 5 Tassie seats.

  22. Centrebet today has Saffin into $1.42, with Hogan on $2.62. Some of the earlier markets on this seat had the two almost level.

  23. Ballot draw:
    1. Jeff JOHNSON (Greens)
    2. Janelle SAFFIN (ALP)
    3. Kevin HOGAN (Nat)
    4. Merle SUMMERVILLE (Ind)
    5. Julia MELLAND (Dems)
    6. Douglas BEHN (Ind)

    Behn is a regular candidate at state and federal elections. He owned a service station in Evans Head, which I believe he sold earlier this year.

  24. A bit off the mark in my final swing prediction, but basically in line with the result I’d originally been expecting for the last year or so, Saffin getting a swing to her, and little increase in the Greens vote owing to Saffin’s popularity amongst progressive voters.

    Saffin did run an excellent campaign. Her TV ads were very good, whilst Kevin Hogan really struggled to find a message which cut through.

    I can’t say however that I anticipated that, after disregarding 4 seats where there were significant votes for independents (Lyne, Cowper, Wannon and Riverina), Page would be the worst result for the Greens in terms of swing in the whole country! It’s extremely embarrassing.

    Some of you may be interested in some of these photos from around most of the larger booths in the northern end of the electorate, includes examples of the signage being used by the other parties:
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=32444&id=120731304622586

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