Named after Sir Earl Page, the electorate of Page was established in 1984 and has had five members: Ian Robertson (NP 1984-1990), Harry Woods (ALP 1990-1996), Ian Causley (NP 1996- 2007), Janelle Saffin (ALP: 2007-2013) and Kevin Hogan (NP – 2013 to present).
Regarded as a bellwether seat, Page swung back to the Nationals in 2013 when Kevin recorded a swing of 6.71% -almost twice the national average – against the ALP incumbent. It was his second attempt. Kevin now holds the north coast seat with a margin of 2.52%, making it one of the most marginal seats in the country.
Located in the Northern Rivers of NSW, Page has traditionally been a rural electorate but has recently seen an influx of sea/tree changers. It is known as the Rainbow Region – historically due to the number of rainbows (the effect of to its sub-tropical climate), but increasingly today due to its increasingly diverse population.
The seat covers 16,143sq km stretching from Hernani on the Queensland border in the north to south of Grafton, and from west of Kyogle (population 2500) to Ballina (39,500) in the east. It has about 100km of coastline including the seaside towns of Woodburn (700), Evans Head (2700), Yamba (7000) and Iluka (2500).
Page covers five local council areas: Grafton (17,500); Richmond Valley, which includes Casino (11,000) known as the beef capital of NSW if not Australia; Kyogle dominated by agriculture and forestry; Ballina internationally renowned for its Big Prawn; and Lismore, which boast more artists per capita than anywhere else in Australia.
The major commercial centres are Lismore (30,000), Grafton and Ballina. Lismore is the largest centre with a Base Hospital servicing Northern NSW (it has a state-of-the-art cancer treatment unit), the main campus of Southern Cross University and a strong TAFE sector. Economically, the area is reliant on manufacturing (8.9% of gross regional product) healthcare and social assistance (7.1%), retail trade (6.7%), education and training (6.6%) and agriculture, forestry and fishing (5.1%).
It also has more than 10,000 small businesses but only a few large businesses. Tourism is increasingly becoming more important with people attracted to the area’s beaches, pristine national parks and the trend of “hinterland” tourism. Culturally, the concept of community and volunteerism is very strong with a very large number of non-government agencies. RSL and other veterans group are also very active and well supported by the wider community.
The Northern Rivers region has been identified as one of the greatest areas of growth with an ageing demographic. It is projected that the majority of the population will be aged between 50 and 90 years of age in 2027 compared with a majority of people aged between 20 and 45 years of age for NSW as a whole.