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WITH 64 percent of the primary vote, Independent candidate Rob Oakeshott claimed an emphatic victory in the Lyne by-election last Saturday.
It was a huge blow for The Nationals who have held the seat since its inception in 1949, firstly as the County party.
The Nationals candidate Rob Drew secured just 22 per cent of the primary vote for the seat of Lyne which was vacated by the resignation of former deputy prime minister Mark Vaile.
Mr Oakeshott was thrilled with the result and said a lot of people during the campaign were really chomping at the bit for change.
“Change not really away from the Nationals but a change toward a member of parliament and public officials on the Mid-North coast who unashamedly put their electorates and electoral responsibilities first”
According to preliminary figures, Mr Oakeshott had secured 42,642 votes, 64.29 percent of the primary vote, which increased to 74 per cent after the distribution of preferences.
The Greens slightly increased their vote in the by-election despite the “Oakeshott avalanche”
Candidate Susie Russell received about 7.5 per cent of the primary vote on the preliminary counts.
In last November’s federal election she took 7.15 per cent of the primary vote against former Lyne MP Mark Vaile.
She said Mr Oakeshott’s resounding victory showed that voters could not be taken for granted.
“I think it was a strong endorsement of his message of putting the community first and that’s what should be happening across the countyside.”
NSW Nationals state director Ben Franklin said the by-elction was always going to be a tough contest.
‘We ran, we believe a strong and positive campaign based on the good work of Mark Vaile and tried to secure the area,” he said.
Mr Franklin doesn’t believe the by-election was a “broad referendum” on The Nationals relevance.
‘We see this as an isolated example” he said.
“In the WA state election it appears the Nationals will be the balnce of power party – we had an extremely strong result.”
The Nationals now hold just nine federal seats in the House of Representatives – its worst representation ever.
Mr Oakeshott said it was an exciting time to be enterting federal politics when independents had secured the balance of power in the Senate.
“The concept of independents is very much alive in the federal arena and I think it’s really healthy” the 38-year old said.
One of his first jobs as federal member-elect will be organising a delegation to meet with deputy prime minister Julia Gillard on September 18 to discuss the future of Australian Technical Colleges in Port Macquarie and Taree.
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