Nationals face loss of second north coast seat, poll shows

Nationals face loss of second north coast seat, poll shows

The Nationals are set to lose the north coast seat of Lismore at the next NSW election, polling suggests, compounding the party’s loss of neighbouring Ballina to the Greens in 2015.

A ReachTel poll shows the Nationals primary vote at 32.8 per cent, Labor on 23.9 per cent and the Greens on 22 per cent. One Nation is on 6.8 per cent, others on 5.6 per cent and nine per cent are undecided.

The Nationals primary vote is significantly lower than the 42.4 per cent secured by current MP Thomas George at the 2015 election.

Mr George, who is retiring at the 2019 election narrowly held on in Lismore two years ago against the Greens, leaving the seat one of the most marginal in NSW on just 0.2 per cent.

On a two-party preferred basis, the poll has Labor leading the Nationals by 57 per cent to 43 per cent, based on preferences stated by the 753 residents surveyed earlier this month.

The Nationals are conducting a community preselection – which involves inviting local non-party members to participate – to choose a candidate for Lismore.

Labor and the Greens intend to preselect their candidates early next year.

The polling was commissioned by the Nature Conservation Council.

Voters were also asked if the NSW government is doing enough to act on climate change, to which 60.2 per cent responded it was not. Only 28.6 per cent said yes and 11.1 per cent are undecided.

Sixty-seven per cent said they were more likely to vote for a political party that increases solar and wind power and reduces reliance on coal, with 17.8 per cent saying less likely and 15.2 per cent stating it wouldn’t change their vote.

Among Nationals voters, 40.5 per cent said they would be more likely to vote for a party with those policies, with 33.6 per cent saying less likely and 25.9 per cent saying it would make no difference.

Nature Conservation Council chief executive Kate Smolski said that if the Nationals want to retain Lismore “they should put forward a candidate who’ll put climate change high on the agenda and push the rapid shift to renewables”.

“People are crying out for [Premier Gladys] Berejiklian to lead on this issue – including conservative voters – but she still doesn’t have a plan,” she said.

Ms Smolski said the Climate Change Fund Strategic Plan for 2017-2022 was promised for mid-year “and now is months overdue”.

“The government has a commitment to make the state carbon neutral by 2050 but has no plans to replace the state’s coal-burners with renewable energy. Without an action plan it’s just a pipe dream.”