Dr Anne Webster

DESPITE a swing of just under three percent with almost 80 percent of votes counted, The Nationals have retained the division of Mallee.

Nationals candidate, Anne Webster, who is the first woman elected to represent the seat of Mallee quickly expressed her gratitude to the voters.

“I thank the voters and look forward to representing them in the future,” she said.

Dr Webster, from Mildura, is the founder of ‘Zoe Support’, a not-for-profit organisation assisting young mothers through pregnancy and parenting while re-engaging with education.

New model

Described as new model, Anne Webster is one of two female Nationals candidates elected; the other is Perin Davey who came from behind to win the third NSW Senate spot.

Mr McCormack said the National Party had found a new way in their local focus and fresh faces like Mallee MP Dr Webster, a social
worker focused on domestic violence through community groups like Mallee Family Care and Mallee Support and Accommodation Program.

“We have found a new model. Anne’s not a typical Nat, she’s worked in women’s centres supporting people who have slipped through the cracks. It’s not the tweed jacketed, plaid belted Nats of old,” he said.

“She’s representative of the new face of regional Australia,” he said.

On notice

While the coalition celebrates the ‘unexpected victory’, the Nationals will be on notice with a drop in the primary vote for their candidate suffering a significant fall from the 2016 election.

In 2016 Andrew Broad saw 56,251 primary votes while in the election on Saturday night, Anne Webster, was only able to garner 23,982 primary votes.

However, the Party still holds a significant lead in the two-candidate preferred with just over 66.82 percent, despite a swing of 4.5 percent against them.

Region shows its own In Yarriambiack shire and neighbouring towns, a strong swing against The Nationals was recorded in favour of local
identity, and former Mayor of Yarriambiack Shire, Ray Kingston.

Mr Kingston finished with 9.48 percent of the vote (7,713 votes) across the seat, with the vast majority coming in the lower half, his own backyard.

Hometown, Rupanyup, led the way with a massive swing against The Nationals of 41.52 percent and Murtoa recording a swing of 39.56 percent.

Warracknabeal was also a Kingston stronghold and has recorded a swing of 37.40 percent away from The Nationals towards its former

Other towns saw swings away from the Nationals of:
• 25.32 – Rainbow
• 34.4 – Minyip
• 22.15 – Jeparit
• 29.02 – Dimboola
• 30.43 – Beulah.

Mr Kingston currently sits behind Dr Webster (23,982), Serge Petrovich (Liberal – 14,357) and Carole Hart (ALP 12,288) and Jason Modica (Independent – 8,436); a job well done according to many people in his home town.

Rau also polled extremely well in the Horsham area:
• Second most number of primary votes behind
The Nationals in Horsham, Horsham West and Horsham East
• Third behind The Nationals in Horsham North
and the Horsham PPVC.

Informal voting

A worrying trend was the number of informal or invalid votes cast during the election. Along with the expected but unfortunate blank ballots cast, many ballots were incorrectly marked with people forgetting to correctly number 1-13. Of the 90,846 votes cast
(pre-polling excluded), there were 9,472 informal votes cast for the House of Representatives.

This showed an enormous increase when compared with the numbers of informal votes cast at the previous Federal election in 2016 where 4,269
invalid forms were recorded.

Steady stream

Workers reported a steady stream of voters through their booths rather than the long lines of years’ past.

Workers at several booths reported numbers ‘different’ to previous years with the feeling numbers of walk-in voters was down. In most cases,
according to AEC figures, this was the case.

Numbers in booths across the Yarriambiack shire and neighbouring towns showed a slight drop in most places.

Many voters had chosen to cast an early vote with a pre- poll vote, however these are yet to be counted and despite a worse case scenario will not cause The Nationals to lose the seat.

Highest number

The division of Mallee, saw the highest number of candidates contesting the safe conservative seat with 13 candidates.
Many voters voiced
confusion as to the number of

Many voters voiced confusion as to the number of candidates and the requirement to number 1-13 to record a valid vote.

The nearest number of candidates in any division other than Mallee was 10 in five other divisions of Warringah NSW, Hinkler in QLD, Casey in Victoria and Swan in WA.

Moving forward

The Nationals campaigned on their ‘record’ of delivering for the Mallee and now the next three years will tell the tale.

During the election campaign, The Nationals promised to continue to create more and better paying jobs in the Mallee, have improved health and education services, tackle environmental issues and upgrade infrastructure right across the Wimmera, Mallee and the Goldfields.
A list of promises include:Boost

  • digital connectivity in regional Australia, including eliminating mobile blackspots across one million square kilometres by 2025
  • Invest $15 million for five more Regional Study Hubs.
  • Invest $2 million in the Country Education Partnership’s Rural Inspire initiative.
  • Invest in the right infrastructure to connect communities, industry and producers to markets, and making travel safer.
  • Provide further funding through programs that are targeted at improving the regions, such as the Building Better Regions Fund.
  • Deliver new Regional Deals.
  • Continue to deliver on their decentralisation agenda.