WITH the nation suspended in political limbo, the Nationals Party’s command of Riverina has made it the 11th safest seat – out of 150 – in Australia.
In the aftermath of the 2016 cliff-hanger federal election, pundits are divided about whether the Coalition will scrounge enough seats to win a majority in the lower house, with 13 seats still in doubt.
With 82 per cent of Riverina votes counted, Nationals MP Michael McCormack has a winning margin of 28,048 in an electorate with 111,108 voters and 4,3101 informal votes.
Labor only stripped 2.86 per cent from the National’s 19 per cent buffer in Riverina, which Mr McCormack put down to a natural “correction” in response to a boundary change.
“There was always going to be a downturn of around 2 per cent given Riverina lost the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, which was very supportive of National party ideals and me,” he said.
Labor only won two of the 102 polling booths in the electorate, both of which were in Gundagai and believed to be a direct result of community anger over the state government’s decision to merge the local council with Cootamundra.
“People in Gundagai are angry about a state government decision that was out of my control and any influence I could have had,” Mr McCormack said.
“The Nationals have been good for Gundagai, with a new Gobarralong Bridge, $1 million for the Sheridan Street upgrade and a new wing at St Patrick's Catholic Primary School.”
The tightest contest in Wagga was in Ashmont, where Labor attracted a 3.35 per cent swing in its favour to whittle the Nationals’ two-party preferred vote down to a narrow 54.17 per cent.
Other successful polling booths for Labor candidate Tim Kurylowicz included Forest Hill (8.81 per cent swing), Ganmain (8.2 per cent swing) and Mount Austin (5.25 per cent swing).
Wagga’s biggest swing was recorded at the Glenfield Park polling booth, where Labor picked up 10.45 per cent more votes after preferences than in 2013.
The Coalition’s biggest winning margin came from Tallimba – a small town 30 minutes west of West Wyalong – where 70 of the 84 voters backed the Nationals.
Other successful polling booths for the Nationals included Jugiong (10.88 per cent swing), Koorawatha (6.3 per cent swing) and Wallendbeen (8.42 per cent swing).