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Basham bites back as besieged Lib frontbench holds on

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The contest for former primary industries minister David Basham’s blue-ribbon seat of Finniss is set to go down to the wire as more postal and pre-poll votes break for the Liberals.

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Basham is in serious danger of losing his notionally safe Fleurieu Peninsula seat that takes in Victor Harbor, Port Elliot and Hindmarsh Island after enduring a swing of more than 17.6 per cent to local independent Lou Nicholson.

But Nicholson’s two-candidate preferred lead over Basham shrunk yesterday from around 55 per cent-45 per cent to just 53.1 per cent-46.9 per cent after the first batch of postal and pre-poll votes were counted.

Nicholson has also fallen more than two per cent behind Labor on first preference votes which would knock her out of the two-candidate preferred contest.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said the outcome in Finniss is the hardest seat to call at this stage.

“Prospects for Liberal David Basham have improved in Finniss,” he wrote on his election blog.

“Around 2000 postal votes have been counted [on Tuesday] and his first preference vote rises from 37.0 per cent to 39.1 per cent, Labor’s from 23.5 per cent to 23.7 per cent, Independent Lou Nicholson declines from 23.0 per cent to 21.6 per cent and vote for four other candidates slips from 16.6 per cent to 15.6 per cent.

“The most important point here is that Nicholson was 0.5 per cent behind Labor on Saturday but is now 2.1 per cent behind.

“If Nicholson can bridge this gap, she still wins with 53.1 per cent versus Basham after preferences, but this figure is down from 55.1 per cent on Saturday night’s count.”

As of Wednesday morning, only 47.5 per cent of votes have been counted in Finniss, a seat that has been held by the Liberals since it was created in 1993.

Pre-poll and postal votes look set to save a number of Liberal frontbenchers from electoral embarrassment, including former premier Steven Marshall who has finally edged ahead of Labor in Dunstan.

Marshall now leads Labor’s Cressida O’Hanlon 50.3 per cent to 49.7 per cent on two-party preferred, according to the Electoral Commission, although the ABC has the pair split at exactly 50-50.

Liberal frontbenchers John Gardner, David Pisoni, Vincent Tarzia and Josh Teague are also set to narrowly hold on to their supposedly safe suburban electorates once all votes are counted.

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