Exit polling questions influence of CSG in key seats

COAL seam gas appears to have been a non-issue in a number of seats where it was tipped to sway votes, exit polling taken in key marginal electorates has found.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association commissioned Crosby-Textor to conduct the polling in seats where the Greens, Katter's Australian Party and Labor candidates had billed the election as a "referendum" on CSG development.

The poll of 400 people spread evenly across 20 seats, including Page and Richmond in New South Wales and eight seats in Queensland, found natural gas scored zero per cent as an influencing factor, even when respondents were prompted.

More than two-thirds of respondents said they had decided who they were voting for before the campaign, including a majority of Coalition voters.

APPEA, the gas industry's peak organisation, also analysed the results in a number seats where CSG development had been touted as a key election issue.

In northern NSW there was a significant swing against the incumbent Labor MPs in Page and Richmond, both of whom had campaigned heavily on the issue of CSG, as well as Greens candidates.

Labor's Janelle Saffin lost Page on the back of an almost 7% swing (primary and two-party-preferred) against her, while the Greens suffered a 2.3% swing against it.

In the neighbouring electorate of Richmond Labor's Justine Elliot, who resigned from the frontbench earlier this year to concentrate on the fight against CSG expansion, managed to hold on despite a 5.5% drop in her primary vote. She claimed on Sunday that anti-CSG voters had helped her get over the line.

Interestingly, the Greens achieved a small boost to its primary vote in the seat.

Mrs Elliot and Ms Saffin, who teamed up to launch an anti-CSG petition in February, had sought to paint their Nationals opponents as pro-CSG leading up to and during the campaign.

The pressure will now be on Page's new representative in Canberra, the Nationals' Kevin Hogan, who was forced to take a strong anti-CSG stance.

Ms Saffin told APN Newsdesk the fact Mr Hogan had come out against CSG proved it was an issue in the bellwether electorate.

"CSG is an issue, it will remain an issue and we will do everything we can to stop it here," Ms Saffin said.

APPEA also pointed to results in seats like Kennedy where there was a 17% swing in primary support for the incumbent Bob Katter, who has called for a moratorium on CSG mining.



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