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Ley romps in, Birrel over the line

Nationals Sam Birrell (left) with fellow National MP and former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce at a recent funding announcement for the Yarrawonga Multisport Stadium.

The Nationals’ Sam Birrell will head to Canberra for the local Federal seat of Nicholls after a marginal victory, meanwhile over the river Liberal’s Susan Ley romped home with a convincing win in the seat of Farrer after Saturday’s Federal Election.

Nichols Independent candidate Rob Priestly called Mr Birrell on Sunday morning to concede, with Mr Birrell marginally ahead by more than 7000 votes with 85,000 votes counted.

The 4.7 per cent margin is a fraction of that enjoyed by retiring Nationals MP Damian Drum, who held a margin of 20 per cent.

“I feel tired, relieved and very humble and honoured,” Mr Birrell said on Sunday.

“It was a tough campaign against some really high-quality candidates.

“Rob has been a friend for a long time and will remain so. I only met Steve Brooks at the start of this election campaign and I have a real respect for him.”

Mr Birrell congratulated every candidate in Nicholls.

“As only we know, it is a very hard thing to put yourself out there,” he said.

Mr Birrell said the issues confronting Nicholls, especially water, would be his priorities from day one.

“I need to pull the community together, those who supported me and those who didn’t. This electorate needs to come together to work to get the outcomes from the Federal Parliament that we need.”

Mr Priestly said he contacted Mr Birrell early on Sunday to congratulate him on the win and for becoming the next Member for Nicholls.

“Thank you to my volunteers, supporters and donors, it’s been an extraordinary effort,” Mr Priestly said.

He said come next election the electorate wouldn’t be taken for granted and he hoped his run had paved the way for an independent to take the seat of Nicholls.

He said at this stage that independent wouldn’t be him, “but there’s plenty of time to reflect and think about it”.

He encouraged people to come together and support Mr Birrell now he had won the count.

In Yarrawonga’s polling booths much of the pre poll and election day voting was heavily split between Cobram based Liberal candidate Steve Brooks (1,616 first preference votes) and Nationals Sam Birrell (1,629 votes), with Independent Rob Priestly only polling 835 votes.

Ley returned in Farrer

Liberal Party’s Sussan Ley convincingly won the local Federal seat of Farrer returning her once again to the seat she has held since 2008.

The Liberal Party’s Sussan Ley convincingly won the seat of Farrer returning her once again to the seat she has held since 2008.

With first preference votes counted at 85 of the 87 polling stations by 4pm on Monday, Ms Ley had received 53.36 per cent of the vote, with 46,966 votes. This was a swing of 2.65 per cent in her favour on the last election.

In second spot was Labor’s Darren Cameron with 18.96 per cent of the vote, with 16,683 votes.

The Greens Eli Davern was in third spot with 7488 votes (8.51 per cent), while Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidate Richard Francis was fourth with 5455 votes (6.2 per cent).

Paul Britton from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party was fifth with 4483 votes (5.09 per cent), Julie Ramos from United Australia Party sat in sixth position with 2882 votes (3.27 votes).

Independent Amanda Duncan-Strelec polled 2694 voted (3.06 per cent) to finish seventh, while Liberal Democrats candidate Ian Roworth rounded out the eight candidates with 1358 votes (1.54 per cent.

In the two-party preferred count, with 86 of 87 polling places counted by 4pm on Monday, Ms Ley polled 67.21 per cent of the vote, while Labor’s Mr Cameron had 32.79 per cent of the vote.

This represented a 2.62 per cent swing away from the Liberals towards Labor.

In Mulwala Ms Ley polled the highest of all the candidates with 483 votes out of the 930 votes cast at the Mulwala Civic Centre polling booth and a 4.6 per cent swing in favour.

Mr Cameron polled the second highest votes in Mulwala with 137 votes for a 1.9 percent swing.

It is the eighth time Ms Ley has won the Farrer election and she said she was humbled by the support of the voters.

Ms Ley said residents cast their vote based on what she had done during the past three years in the position.

“I’ve worked hard over three years and we saw that in the result on Saturday,” she said.

The Farrer seat was one of the few Liberal-held seats in NSW to see an overall first preference swing in favour of the Liberals.

“Most Liberals (seats) lost traction,” Ms Ley said.

“It (my increase in primary votes) has given me the energy and enthusiasm to keep going and representing my electorate,” Ms Ley said.