Chester seated comfortably

Chester seated comfortably

Incumbent Darren Chester, of the Nationals, has been retained as the Member for Gippsland following a comfortable Federal Election win on Saturday, however, somewhat surprisingly, he will remain the sitting member of the region with his party in power.

Mr Chester’s victory in Gippsland was not unexpected. The Lakes Entrance politician collected 54.85 per cent of the first preference vote after 71.59 per cent of votes had been counted yesterday morning as the Coalition celebrated a famous victory.

The Liberals/Nationals appeared to be on the outer following a change in leadership from Malcolm Turnbull to Scott Morrison in 2018, however the latter pulled of what has been dubbed a miracle win.

Labor Party leader, Bill Shorten, conceded defeat late on Saturday evening as the Coalition powered ahead. By yesterday morning it had claimed 75 seats to Labor’s 67, with six taken by other parties and three still to be decided.

Those three seats – Macquarie (NSW), Chisholm (VIC), and Boothby (SA) were slightly favoured towards the Coalition at time of going to press, pointing to a majority government.

The Coalition needed two more seats to win a majority. Mr Chester’s primary
vote had slipped 0.99 per cent from the 2016 election as Gippslanders showed some love to Labor candidate, Dr Antionette Holm, with her party’s first preference increasing 2.85 per cent.

It is the first time Mr Chester’s primary vote has decreased since taking the seat in a 2008 by election from Peter McGauran.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate, David Snelling, who was unsighted on the campaign trail, attracted the third highest vote count (at time of going to press) with 6.92 per cent of the vote, while Greens candidate, Deb Foskey, who was the opposite to Snelling with a vocal campaign targeting climate change and more, claiming 5.60 per cent of the overall vote, however it was a drop of 2.22 from the party’s 2016 election result.

Kerri Brewer (United Australia Party), Sonia Buckley (Independent) and Neville Tickner (Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party) received 4.43, 3.04 and 2.10 per cent of the first preference vote respectively.

The two-party preferred standing was also marginally favourable for Labor with Mr Chester and the Nationals dropping 1.92 per cent from their 2016 result.

Mr Chester said yesterday it was “enormous and privilege” to be elected into parliament for a fifth time.

“I have never taken Gippslanders for granted and I am extremely grateful for the support of my family, friends, staff and community members who made this win possible,” he said.

“Work begins today to keep putting locals first and delivering everything we promised during the election campaign.”

Mr Chester said her remains focused on supporting jobs in traditional industries and creating new opportunities, particularly for young people.

“We need to invest in the education and training opportunities for Gippslanders to allow our youth to achieve their full potential in our own communities, without always being forced to relocate to big cities,” he said.

“We also need to see more government investment in new and emerging industries, particularly tourism. I want state and local governments to put forward decent infrastructure investment plans that the Federal Government can support to boost the visitor economy across Gippsland.”

Mr Chester said he believes “the best days for Gippsland lie ahead of us”.

“There is a lot of work to be done and I am confident I have the experience, passion, enthusiasm and positive team behind me to keep building an even better Gippsland,” he said.

PICTURED: Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, who was retained as the region’s Federal member, despite a slight decrease in primary vote and two party preferred standings, pictured alongside volunteers Anne Hiscock and Bob Ceveri, at Bairnsdale Main Street Polling Booth. (PS)