By a mere 373 votes, Labor’s Fiona Phillips has officially retained the seat of Gilmore on the NSW south coast.
It was the closest seat in the country with a 2.44 per cent swing away from Ms Phillips under a two-candidate preferred count.
Ms Phillips said she was honoured to have been re-elected.
“I’m ecstatic it’s finally been decided. It was certainly a long election campaign and then a long three weeks after. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster,” she said.
“I have been humbled by the unwavering support, kind words and well wishes from so many people over the last few weeks while we waited for the official result.”
The Gilmore representative hasn’t stopped to celebrate, with plans to attend a community meeting in Kiama this evening about the Blue Haven Aged Care facility and talks lined up with Eurobodalla Council to discuss the lack of housing in the region.
“We have many significant issues, particularly the housing crisis, so I’m keen to get stuck into that,” Ms Phillips said.
“Every single day I have someone come into my electorate office saying they potentially have nowhere to live, and these are people with incomes, without incomes, with kids. This impacts everyone.
“Businesses say they’re finding it hard to find workers, but workers can’t find somewhere to live. If you can’t find somewhere to live, how can you even try and think about work? How can you survive?”
She highlighted funding for the South Coast as a key issue she would take to Federal Parliament.
“We’ve been through some really tough times over the past couple of years. We had every disaster imaginable, I think,” Ms Phillips said.
“We’ve had to deal with drought, bushfires, floods and the pandemic. We had more than 11 disasters declared [in the seat].”
She also promised she would deliver on the commitments made during the election campaign.
“Commitments like fixing our roads, improving our local health services, building our resilience and preparing for natural disasters, as well as investing in local infrastructure,” Ms Phillips said.
“I am delighted that I will be able to deliver all these important projects and more.”
Her win was also significant in allowing the Labor Government to have a speaker in the House and retain a majority.
“This delivers the 77th seat for Labor in Parliament. It’s critical,” Ms Phillips said.
“I’m the only Labor MP in history to have won the Gilmore seat twice, so it might have been [won by] a small margin, but a win is a win.
“It’s nice to bring the 77th seat home.”
Ms Phillips said her opponent, Liberal candidate Andrew Constance, had not yet reached out to congratulate her or concede the seat.
The Australian Electoral Commission was set to declare the seat on Tuesday (14 June) until a request from Mr Constance stalled the decision.
At the time, Mr Constance flagged concerns with how votes were counted, particularly the scrutiny of informal votes.
However, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) found no weight in his claims after his request was “considered very carefully”.
“It was denied because the counting process was considered to be undertaken in line with the Electoral Act,” an AEC spokesperson said.
“There was sufficient checking and re-checking of ballot papers during the scrutiny period (including the fresh scrutiny process).”
Region Media has contacted Mr Constance for comment.
Original Article published by Claire Fenwicke on About Regional.