GIPPSLAND remains a conservative stronghold despite the National party suffering in the voter backlash against the Coalition government in Saturday’s election that swept the Labor party into office after only one term in opposition.
In Gippsand South MLA Peter Ryan retained his safe seat with 66 per cent of the two party preferred vote, while in Gippsland East Tim Bull retained the seat with 67 per cent of the vote.
However Mr Ryan has announced he will step down as Nationals leader.
“I will not be seeking a further term as leader of The Nationals when the parliamentary party convenes later this week.
“It has been my honour and privilege to lead The Nationals in both opposition and government spanning a period of 15 years.
“The people of Gippsland South have again elected me to represent their interests in the Victorian Parliament and it is my intention to continue to serve on their behalf,” he said.
The seat of Morwell was still in doubt as the Gippsland Times went to press, with incumbent Nationals member Russel Northe holding on with 52 per cent of the vote, leading Labor’s Jadon Mintern on 48 per cent. A strong vote for independent Tracie Lund seemed to have robbed Mr Northe of support following the government’s response to the Hazelwood fire, with the seat recording an 11 per cent swing to Labor.
However early voting and postal votes are expected to favour Mr Northe.
Further west, the seats of Narracan and Bass have been retained for the Liberal party by Gary Blackwood taking 60 per cent of the two party preferred vote in Narracan and newcomer Brian Paynter taking 55 per cent of the two party preferred vote in Bass.
Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull on Sunday morning thanked the community for its support.
“I want to thank all the volunteers who worked on the polling booths yesterday, not just for myself, but for all candidates and thank the candidates themselves who I met over the past two weeks at pre-polling, all very decent people.
“It will again be an honour to represent the people of this region in the Victorian Parliament, something I will always be proud of doing and never take for granted. I will continue to work hard to assist local people with state government matters and make sure we are well heard in the Parliament.
“At the end of the day, it is a great thing in this country, unlike many others, that we can have a democratically elected change of government without a shot being fired or a riot in the streets and we should not lose sight of that,” Mr Bull said.
The Legislative Council Eastern Victoria representatives will likely be Edward O’Donohue, Liberal, Harriet Shing, Labor, Danny O’Brien, National, Jeffrey Bourman, Shooters and Fishers Party and Daniel Mulino, Labor.
They will join an upper house with 14 Liberal members, 13 Labor, five Greens, three Shooters and Fishers party members, two Nationals and one Sex Party member, one Democratic Labor Party member and one Country Alliance member.
The control of the balance of power in the house by the micro-parties will prove a significant challenge to the incoming Labor government.