'Incredibly grateful': Strong green wave hits Ballina
TAMARA Smith's apparently inevitable victory in the seat of Ballina firmly cements the Greens in this part of the North Coast.
Voters have bucked the state trend, swung left and gone against the Nationals candidate Ben Franklin.
Final counts are yet to be completed but current figures indicate Ms Smith will retain her seat.
The ABC has predicted The Greens will retain the seat.
While counting continues, primary votes reveals Mr Franklin received 38.6 per cent of the primary vote and Ms Smith was on 30.5 per cent.
But Ms Smith looks set to win the seat with the help of preferences delivering 60 per cent against Mr Franklin on just below 40 per cent.
Despite the Nationals promising to throw more than $100 million towards the Ballina Hospital upgrade, roads and tourism, voters have stuck with the incumbent.
Mr Franklin told the Northern Star on Saturday night 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 outspent 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.
"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 '70s that needs a new emergency department."
Mr Franklin said he was proud of his party's 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've hoped for and it looks highly likely that the sitting 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."
Ms Smith said she was "humbled" by the voters' support.
"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 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 having meaningful conversations with people and we have had thousands and thousands of those."