OPINION: Tiny election margin means big opportunities

THERE has been a lot of talk since polling day about how bad the result is in Lismore for Thomas George, who was narrowly returned yesterday with his margin slashed from more than 24% to less than 3%.

I doubt he would have enjoyed the journey - elections are bruising at the best of times and this one much more than most.

However, that tiny margin is a gift to both Mr George and the electorate.

You could argue Ballina and the seat's new Greens MP Tamara Smith, also sporting a tiny margin, has been given the same gift. However, for Mr George it comes with incumbency.

As a result, Mr George - and the people of the Lismore electorate - now wield more power than they have since he entered the parliament in 1999.

The government's $180m commitment to complete Stage Three of the Lismore Base Hospital is a good example of that power.

It would be nice to think it was done solely out of a recognition of need, but it's a mighty coincidence that it came as Mr George was fighting for his political life.

So, this may well be the term where Mr George gets to make his dreams come true.

The hospital has been one of the defining battles of his career, but there are other issues he has fought for that remain outstanding, such as the deadly Woodenbong to Legume road and improved interstate road links for freight away from the coast.

It's a good time for us, as a community, to start pushing for things we need.

Mr George's tiny margin means it's a safe bet CSG won't be getting a look-in on the Northern Rivers.

What else do we want? Decent public transport within and between our towns? Draw up your wish lists - Christmas is here and it'll last for four years.