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Lara Dalton ahead of Ian Blayney in Geraldton

Lara Dalton. Picture: Sebastian Neuweiler
Lara Dalton. Picture: Sebastian Neuweiler

The seat of Geraldton remains up in the air as tonight wears on, with Labor’s Lara Dalton taking a strong early lead in the primary vote.

With 45.88 per cent of votes counted, Ms Dalton was leading 4053 votes to incumbent Ian Blayney (Liberal) with 2922 votes.

On an indicative two-party preferred basis the race is much tighter, Ms Dalton leading Mr Blayney 4371 to 4140.

Mr Blayney has held the seat since the introduction of the Barnett government in 2008.

While the initial years of his governance rode on the back of the mining boom, Mr Blayney said due to the downturn this had been the most challenging election campaign yet, with Labor’s Lara Dalton the candidate to beat.

Geraldton Regional Hospital has been a key focus over the campaign period, with health professionals deeming the facility too small and lacking in vital services.

While it was initially overlooked in the 2016 WA budget, in January the Liberals pledged $138.5 million to increase capacity of the hospital by 40 per cent, with an integrated mental health service.

WA Labor committed $45 million to begin a staged redevelopment of the hospital.

High rates of juvenile crime and drug use are both issues the Geraldton community face, with both Liberal and Labor announcing plans for tough new measures to combat the meth scourge in Western Australia.

High levels of unemployment are of concern to Geraldton, with the city feeling the blow of the end of the mining boom’s construction phase.

Ms Dalton is a hospitality lecturer at Central Regional TAFE in Geraldton.

If successful, she’ll be the first woman to hold the seat in 126 years.

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