Electorate analysis: Tweed is the state’s northernmost coastal electorate, taking its name from the river that runs just south of the New South Wales-Queensland border. It extends from Tweed Heads on the border through surrounding communities as far south as Burringbar. The name of the electorate was changed from Murwillumbah in 1999 (the town of that name is now in Lismore), reflecting rapid growth along the coast. Murwillumbah in turn replaced Byron in 1988, the bay of that name having moved to Ballina. The changes have added 0.2 per cent to the Labor margin. The most significant variations in booth results relate to the Greens, who poll over 20 per cent in the counter-cultural hinterland – at which successive redistributions have progressively chipped away – but only around 7 per cent in and around Tweed Heads.
Taken together, Byron and Murwillumbah were in National/Country Party hands until 1999, although the margin fell below 2 per cent at four elections in the 20 years before it finally fell to Labor. The end came with Neville Newell’s win over Don Beck, the member since 1984. Newell had earlier conquered a local Nationals stronghold when he defeated federal leader Charles Blunt in Richmond in 1990. Larry Anthony recovered Richmond for the Nationals when the Keating government was defeated in 1996; Newell ran again in 1998 and came within 650 votes of winning it back. His 1999 win in Tweed came from a 4.7 per cent swing that erased a notional Nationals margin of 2.1 per cent, and was followed by a further 1.2 per cent swing in 2003. The seat returned to the Nationals fold in 2007, when former Tweed Heads Bowls Club general manager Geoff Provest defeated Newell with a 7.1 per cent swing.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.