The Greens are set to achieve close to their highest ever vote in Newcastle, with a swing toward them of between 3.5% and 4% in Saturday’s state election.
The Greens candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton, said that the Newcastle result of around 15% was what the party was expecting, in an election where many voters’ minds were focussed on changing the government, and seeing this as a choice between Labor and the Coalition.
“In that situation, it’s easy for The Greens to be squeezed out of contention.
“However, on the election night count, The Greens vote in Newcastle was 14.9%, up from our 2007 vote of 11.2% and only just shy of our best ever result in the seat of 15.2% in 2003.
“By the time the Newcastle vote is fully counted (including absentee and postal votes), I expect the final tally to be very close to – and perhaps even higher than – that record result.
“We’ve maintained our position as the third force in Newcastle, and it looks like we’ve managed to comfortably outpoll Newcastle Lord Mayor John Tate, whose election night vote was just 11.5%.
“Our Newcastle result is a testimony to the hard work and skills of our local campaign team, and to our hundreds of committed volunteers, who delivered leaflets and staffed booths,” Mr Sutton said.
With a likely historic Coalition win in the Labor heartland seat, Mr Sutton said that the mood for change was palpable on the ground among voters at the booths yesterday.
“The Coalition poured massive resources into the Newcastle campaign, and saturated the booths with materials and boothworkers.
“Their candidate, Tim Owen, ran a very effective, small-target, direct-engagement campaign that took full advantage of the anti-Labor political zeitgeist,” Mr Sutton said.
“The vote for Labor in Newcastle went down, even from the level of the massive 17% swing they suffered in 2007, after their Sussex St head-office denied a local branch preselection and imposed local celebrity candidate Jodi McKay.
“Whilst the mood for change was the dominant factor, the solid Green vote and the disappointing results for Ms McKay and Mr Tate – both vocal advocates for cutting the Newcastle rail line – also indicate a significant shift toward local community support for the rail line,” Mr Sutton said.
“Beyond an early statement about preferring a light rail option, Mr Owen effectively avoided this issue during the campaign, and failed to deliver on his commitment to provide a detailed position statement on what a Coalition government would do with the rail line.
“Consequently, Mr Owen comes to this issue as a relative cleanskin, and would do well to heed the pro-rail message in this election result,” Mr Sutton said.