Neck and neck in a Kimberley thriller BY:NICOLAS PERPITCH From:The Australian March 12, 2013 12:00AMGreens candidate for the Kimberley Chris Maher, who won 38 per cent of the vote in the four Broome booths. Picture: Damian Kelly Source: The Australian THE Greens and Labor are both confident of victory in the northern West Australian seat of Kimberley, which will boil down to postal and absentee votes in a tight four-way contest with the Liberals and Nationals.WA Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately yesterday said the primary vote was still too close to allocate preferences for a two-party-preferred result although a fresh scrutiny of votes today could clarify the contest.Last night, Labor’s Josie Farrer just led the primary vote, closely followed by the Liberals’ Jenny Bloom, The Greens’ Chris Maher was slightly further back in third place and the Nationals’ Michelle Pucci was in fourth.”To do the preference throw, I’ve got to do a judgment as to who is first and who is second. I can’t make that judgment,” Mr Gately said. “When we do the fresh scrutiny, that might give some further light to it. We’ll probably do some preference work after that.”He also warned there may not be a result until Saturday, when all postal votes will have been counted. Amid a generally dismal election result for the Greens, as of 10pm (AEDT) last night, they benefited from a 10.3 per cent swing towards them in the Kimberley, where they made opposition to a proposed $35 billion gas hub at James Price Point, 50km north of Broome, their central policy.
The seat was previously held by Labor’s Carol Martin but the party suffered a 13.6 per cent swing against it there during the election, while the Liberals, who gained an 8.8 per cent statewide swing, saw their vote go backwards 1.3 per cent in the Kimberley.
Despite the close result, Ms Farrer claimed victory on Sunday via Facebook. “Our campaign director Jon Ford has called victory for Josie!!!!”
A Labor source yesterday believed Ms Farrer was in front on primary votes because the Election Commission website was not showing results from remote polling booths, which had gone roughly 70 per cent her way.
But Mr Maher expected the 1000-odd postal votes to favour him and said he was a strong chance to become the first Greens candidate elected to the state’s Legislative Assembly in a general election. Adele Carles became the member for Fremantle as a Greens candidate in a 2009 by-election.
Mr Maher said the fact 38 per cent of people in the four Broome booths had voted for him put paid to suggestions the only people opposed to the gas hub were professional protesters from outside.
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