A FORMER colleague has credited retired MP Don Page with retaining the seat of Ballina for the Nationals long after it should have changed hands.
Mr Page stepped down before the election after holding the Ballina seat for 27 years, opening the floor for Greens candidate Tamara Smith to win the vote.
The Nationals' Niall Blair told parliament Mr Page was a true statesman whose ability to "know when not to speak" commanded respect amongst his electorate.
"To be honest, given the changing demographic on the North Coast, the Nationals probably should not have held the seat of Ballina for so long," Mr Blair said.
"Don Page is the major reason that we were able to hold that seat when the demographic of that area changed so much over the past couple of decades.
"He knew where we needed to go as a party and what his community wanted from him as their local member. He was also able to take others with him.
"That is why the term 'statesman' should be reserved for people such as Don Page."
Even Jeremy Buckingham from the Greens paid a few back-handed compliments, acknowledging Mr Page's use of his valedictory speech to call for coal seam gas to be banned from the Northern Rivers.
"Twenty-seven years is a long time in public office," Mr Buckingham said.
"Some members of this place do not last two-and-a-half years before they are embroiled in some controversy that reflects poorly on them, and Don Page certainly had none of that."
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