IT'S ON: Who will take out the 2019 State Elections for the seat of Ballina.
IT'S ON: Who will take out the 2019 State Elections for the seat of Ballina. Francis Witsenhuysen

Tamara says results a 'clear referendum on environment'

UPDATE SUNDAY 10am: With 71.9 per cent of the vote counted late last night, Greens Tamara Smith was in the lead with 59.5 per cent of the vote after preferences were allocated.

The National's Ben Franklin trailed behind with 40.5 per cent.

Of the first preference votes, 38.6 per cent went to Ben Franklin, 30.5 per cent to Tamara Smith.

The ABC has predicted Greens to retain the seat.

Ms Smith said she was "humbled".

"Look it's humbling, i'm incredibly grateful to the community for their trust in me for a second term and I think it's a very clear referendum on the environment and just more amenity and public services," she said.

"We've really listened and then we have put forward policies that have resonated with what the community has wanted."

"We've worked really hard for four years, my office has worked hard.

"We have been a very constituent focused office and we have run a really good campaign but mostly that is about running a really good campaign and having meaningful conversations with people and we have had thousands and thousands of those."

UPDATE 11pm: BEN Franklin has secured 38.43 per cent of the primary votes and Tamara Smith holds 30.79 per cent.
The two candidate preferred count has Tamara Smith in favour on 58.37 per cent.

UPDATE 10.11pm: IN A dramatic update on the count, numbers reveal Ben Franklin has again surpassed Greens' Tamara Smith with 39.77 per cent of the votes.

Smith, who had been holding the votes the majority of the night holds 29.76 per cent of the votes.

UPDATE 10pm: Nationals Candidate Ben Franklin said he was "proud" of his parties' campaign, which he described as "genuinely community-centric" but he concedes the result may not be in his favour.

"Obviously the result is not the one that I would of hoped and it looks highly likely that the seating member is being returned but we still have to wait and see what happens with the Ballina pre-poll which has about 10,000 votes in it," he said.

"We were very focused on the individual needs of all the towns and the community and I'll go to bed very comfortable tonight because I think that we did absolutely everything that we could.

"The community almost certainly chose to re-elect the sitting member and I absolutely respect that decision because it's part of democracy and it was a good day."

Mr Franklin said he didn't believe his promises to spend big had backfired.

"The Greens candidate promised $200 million for the Richmond River, so no I mean she out spent me 100 to one or something like that.

"What I tried to do was identify the real needs of this community and show the commitments that I would have over the next four years in terms of the delivery of the outcomes that I wanted.

"I'm not at all embarrassed or unhappy about the fact that I promised to totally refurbish the Ballina Hospital, something that was built in the 70's that needs a new emergency department."

UPDATE 9.05pm: As of 9pm Greens' Tamara Smith is holding the majority of votes with more than 8000 of the 24,000 votes counted.

This sees her with 34.46 per cent, closely followed by Nationals' Ben Franklin with 34.15 per cent.

UPDATE 9pm: COUNTRY Labor candidate Asren Pugh concedes the seat of Ballina as the votes tighten to reveal a two horse race.

"I have just called Tamara to concede and congratulate her on her win tonight, I was just saying to everyone in there that I was very proud of the campaign we ran here," Mr Pugh said.

"It was a campaign around the issues that our community cares about, from climate change through to front line services in Ballina and it was just really exciting to have a whole team of lots of new people come onboard and I'm really proud of the campaign we ran."

"Amazingly enthusiastic, people wanted to make sure this seat didn't revert to the nationals and people really wanted to see a change of government."
 

UPDATE 8.30pm: ALMOST 18,000 votes have been counted and while Ben Franklin stays ahead with 37.9 per cent of the votes.

Gaining is Tamara Smith with 31.43 per cent.

UPDATE 8pm: "Compared to last time I have just felt overwhelmed with support from the community and it just felt really different and of course our volunteers have been out in full force so we are hopeful," Ballina MP Tamara Smith said.

"It's looking really positive, we are actually look at a 10% swing in some of our booths, we are getting that report from our scrutineers but we know this can be a long night, so we are not getting ahead of ourselves.

"Four years ago we know coal seam gas and inappropriate development were a big deal for this community and four years on climate change is an even bigger deal.

"In some sense I think the environment is even stronger of peoples mind and they certainly expressed that to me in the last few weeks leading up to the election. And today."

"I think they have had a gutful of politics and the way we are seeing politics being done and they are sick to death of it."

NSW state election 2019.
NSW state election 2019.

 

UPDATE 7.40pm: BEN Franklin is gaining on Tamara Smith, who is currently holding the majority of votes with almost 35 per cent.
More than 3,200 votes have been counted.
Following Franklin, who holds 31.63 per cent of votes is Asren Pugh on 23.35 per cent.

UPDATE 7pm: 684 votes have been counted for Ballina with Greens Candidate Tamara Smith leading with 37.28 per cent of votes.

This is followed by Country Labor's Asren Pugh, Sustainable Australia candidate Lisa McDermott and then Nationals Ben Franklin.
Also with less than two per cent of votes each is AJP Cathy Blasonato and James Wright candidate for Keep Sydney Open.

ORIGINAL STORY: IT'S almost time for the polling booths to close and for people to return to their warm homes and await the outcome of the 2019 NSW State election.

With two of the most marginal seats in the state, all eyes will be on the Northern Rivers.

Ben Franklin of the Nationals has promised big in Ballina, but will voters buy it? Or will the sitting Greens member Tamara Smith survive? Perhaps Labor's Asren Pugh is in with a chance.

Stay with us here on The Northern Star website, where we'll have up-to-date results from both the Lismore and Ballina electorates, as well as all the action from the candidates' victory (or defeat) parties. We'll also post updates regularly on our Facebook page.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on the election - tweet us, comment on our Facebook threads or email us at news@northernstar.com.au.