Greens may unseat Nats in Northern Rivers seats
UNDERDOG to watchdog - that is the career trajectory one Greens candidate on the North Coast hopes plays out at Saturday's election.
It would have been an outrageous suggestion a few years ago, but Lismore's environmentally inclined Adam Guise could change Australian political history.
He is not alone - Ballina Greens runner Tamara Smith is another possible usurper, although Labor is looking more likely to take that role.
If either of the Greens hopefuls can win over their electorates, it will be the first time in history a Nationals seat has switched to the Greens.
Politics on the North Coast are changing and Saturday's election will reflect that, whichever way the penny finally drops.
It is all riding on the back of coal seam gas - the Liberals want it, the Nats have kept quiet about it, Labor wants it out of the Northern Rivers and the Greens want it gone entirely.
"I'm meeting lots of traditional National Party voters who are turning away from the party because of its failure to stand up and represent regional areas," Mr Guise said.
"I expect a very tight three-party race on election night. Preferences are going to be critical, so it will be about whoever gets their nose over the line.
"I hope my nose is bigger than the rest of them."
Incumbent Nationals MP Thomas George is still favourite to win Lismore ahead of Labor's Isaac Smith, with Mr Guise expected to come a close third.
But the margins are tight - online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au is paying $1.60 for a Nationals win, $3.50 for Labor and $5 if the Greens take the seat.
The Ballina MP Don Page is retiring, vacating the seat he has kept warm for 27 years. His Nationals would-be replacement, Kris Beavis, has fallen behind in the polls, with Labor's Paul Spooner anticipating a victory on preferences.
The real hope for the Greens is Mr Guise, who ingratiated himself with the community over three years' involvement with the Gasfield Free Northern Rivers campaign.
"It would make political history, that's for sure. It would put us on the map and put another Greens watchdog in the parliament," Mr Guise said.