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Election 2007: ALP candidate claims victory in seat of Solomon.

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Friday 7 December 2007

Election 2007: ALP candidate claims victory in seat of Solomon


MARK COLVIN: As we've just heard, the federal election is still being fought in a handful of seats around the country. 


One of the tightest was in the Northern Territory, where the Labor candidate Damien Hale has now claimed the marginal seat of Solomon. 


But the Country Liberal Party's sitting member Dave Tollner is refusing to concede.  


Zoie Jones reports. 


ZOIE JONES: Solomon covers Darwin and the satellite city of Palmerston. The seat was the nation's most marginal at the last election, after the CLP's Dave Tollner took victory in 2001 by just 88 votes. 


This election has been another close race, and almost two weeks after the polls closed, football coach and former grounds keeper Damian Hale has claimed a win. 


DAMIAN HALE: I tried to phone Dave yesterday and was unable to get on to him, so we're just waiting to see the reasons for that but at this stage I'm not aware of any other votes to come in, I haven't heard of anything like a recount or anything like that so I suppose it's just a matter of time before he makes a statement.  


ZOIE JONES: For most people the federal election is now past history and the Rudd Government is now getting down to business. What's the last two weeks been like for you? 


DAMIAN HALE, It's dragged on. It's been quite frustrating I suppose, not knowing whether or not I've won and you know I did resign my position at the Institute of Sport, so, yeah, just thinking well, who's going to pay the mortgage if I don't get up and do I go looking for other jobs? 


ZOIE JONES: Since Damian Hale claimed Solomon, nothing has been heard from Dave Tollner. His media advisor is no longer in the job as of today, and is directing calls to Dave Tollner's mobile. 


DAVE TOLLNER: Ah, hello. You've called Dave Tollner. Please leave a message after the beep. Thank you. 


ZOIE JONES: The counting of postal votes in Solomon finished today, and the Electoral Commission says the full distribution of preferences on Monday is unlikely to change the result. Iain Loganathan is the Commission's Territory Manager. 


IAIN LOGANATHAN: These ballot papers have been counted twice. On both of those occasions they've been counted in full view of scrutineers. We wouldn't expect any change in the result. But part of our process is to count each ballot paper three times before we declare the polls. 


ZOIE JONES: Dave Tollner's political legacy will most likely be his efforts as a prominent local member. But he'll also be remembered for a string of embarrassing gaffes including turning up to vote for himself in 2004, only to discover he wasn't enrolled in his own electorate. 


DAVE TOLLNER (2004): I can't actually vote for myself? 




DAVE TOLLNER: Even though I'm a candidate? 


AEC OFFICIAL: No, because you're not in the certified list for Solomon. 


DAVE TOLLNER: Okay. If it comes down to one vote... (laughs). 


ZOIE JONES: And animal lovers will remember Dave Tollner for his preferred method of getting rid of cane toads. 


DAVE TOLLNER: If I was a cane toad I'd much prefer to go out by being belted over the head with a golf club than I would being stuck in a deep freeze. 


ZOIE JONES: Labor's Damian Hale is now planning to take over the Commonwealth lease for Dave Tollner's office space in Darwin's city mall.  


But the winning candidate says without a concession from Dave Tollner it's been awkward to arrange a move-in date. 


DAMIAN HALE: Yeah, it is a bit of a tricky situation but they'll declare the poll on Tuesday and you know, then I think the legislation states that he's got 48 hours or if I'm declared the winner, so we can work through those things. I won't be in there knocking on his door that's for sure.  


MARK COLVIN: The man who believes he's the new member for Solomon, Labor's Damian Hale, speaking to Zoie Jones in Darwin.