It's Toole in a landslide

PAUL Toole has been elected the new Member for Bathurst following a landslide result on Saturday night.

The voters of Bathurst turned their backs on Labor as the Bathurst mayor received the biggest swing in the state to take the seat.

The Nationals’ candidate received a 36.5 per cent swing to take the seat from Labor, winning every polling booth in the electorate.

This included traditional Labor heartland booths like Lithgow Public School, where Cr Toole outpolled Labor’s Dale Turner by 714 votes to 389, and Wallerawang, which The Nationals won 731-357.

Some of Cr Toole’s biggest wins were at the Barry Hall where he took 86.18 per cent of the two-candidate preferred vote, Eglinton Public 82.78 per cent, Neville 86.32, Newbridge 86.78, Oberon 80.10, O’Connell Public School 84.84, The Lagoon Public School 83.19 and Trunkey Public School 91.23 per cent.

Cr Toole’s win completed a clean sweep of Central West seats for The Nationals, with Andrew Gee retaining Orange following the retirement of Russell Turner and Tony Grant defeating incumbent independent MP Dawn Fardell in Dubbo.

They will all form part of a new Coalition Government under the leadership of premier elect Barry O’Farrell.

Retiring member Gerard Martin has held the seat of Bathurst for the past 12 years – and Labor for the past 16 years – but by 7.30pm on Saturday Mr Turner had conceded it was gone.

With all booths counted Mr Toole had 66.8 per cent of the first preference vote with 20,877 votes and Mr Turner 21.4 per cent with 6686 first preference votes.

It was not a night for the Greens or independents, with Greens candidate Diane Westerhuis receiving six per cent of the first preference vote with 1859 votes and independent Richard Trounson of Capertee snapping at her heels with 5.8 per cent of the first preference vote with 1808 votes.

On a two-candidate preferred basis, the NSW Electoral Commission website yesterday had Cr Toole recording 73.5 per cent of the vote for a record 36.5 per cent swing.

There were 49,419 electors enrolled in the seat of Bathurst. Voter turnout was 64.7 per cent and the informal rate was a low 2.3 per cent.

Just prior to election night Mr Turner described his chances of retaining the seat as quite good. He conceded, however, that on a statewide level it would be difficult for Labor to retain government.

Eighteen people have been working around the clock in Bathurst to check the count and count pre-poll and postal votes. The count will continue tonight.

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