'The people have spoken'
TWEED MP Geoff Provest says he feels "honoured" following his election victory on Saturday which saw him fend off Labor in what he described as the hardest campaign of his career.
Mr Provest went into the election as the second favourite to win behind Labor's Craig Elliot, with early polling and the bookies predicting Mr Elliot would win the seat with the help of preferences.
But an unexpected swing towards the Nationals saw Mr Provest surge ahead and he declared victory with his supporters at the Tweed Heads Bowls Club about 9pm on Saturday.
By Monday morning, Mr Provest had received 48 per cent of the total votes while Mr Elliot had received 32 per cent, with postal votes and several other booths yet to be finalised.
The controversial location of the $534 million Tweed Valley Hospital was the main issue on which both parties based their campaign, with Labor calling the election a "referendum" on where the new hospital would be built.
Mr Provest had promised to build the hospital on former farmland at Cudgen, while Mr Elliot said he would move the site to Kings Forest and save the Cudgen Pleateu from over-development.
But in an unexpected turn of events, Mr Provest won every booth in the electorate and received more than 50 per cent of the votes at the three polling booths closest to the new hospital site.
Mr Provest told the Tweed Daily News the people had spoken on where they wanted their new hospital.
"I put my political career on the line getting a new hospital in the Tweed and that's because the doctors of the Tweed said we need that to keep the community well, so I stood shoulder to shoulder with them," he said.
"I'm disappointed that during the campaign there was a lot of personal insults, vendettas, bullying, you name it, and I think that's a very sad reflection on some people in the community, but the people have spoken, they want the hospital at Cudgen and that's what we're doing."
He said he expected to see the hospital's development application approved and work on the site begin "in the next three or four months".
Mr Provest said it felt "a little bit surreal" when he learned he had retained the seat, but now was the time for action.
"Now the job is to deliver what we promised, the hospital, light rail, upgrades to the schools, the hard work starts today," he said.
"If you promise something you've got to deliver it. I'd like to thank the people of Tweed for putting their trust in me for the next four years and I'm honoured they've chosen me to represent them."
Mr Provest also congratulated his political opponents for putting in the gruelling work it takes to run an election campaign.
"I'd like to give credit to all the candidates, running an election campaign is one of the hardest things you can do in your career," he said.
Mr Elliot said it had been a "privilege and an honour" to be the Labor candidate for Tweed.
"I'm proud of our strong campaign to promise more front-line services, a new high school at Pottsville and better health and hospital services in the Tweed," he said.
"I'd like to thank all those who supported me.
"I congratulate Geoff Provest on his re-election and acknowledge that the community has now made its decision on the location of the new hospital."