Re-elected Member for Riverina Michael McCormack has vowed to keep working hard for his regional electorate at a thank you barbecue for supporters in Forbes.
Mr McCormack was back in Forbes, at the northern end of the Riverina electorate on Sunday, particularly to say thank you to those who have spent the past week handing out how-to-vote cards for The Nationals at Riverina polling booths.
He will serve a fifth term in parliament after comfortably holding onto his seat with 47.31 of the primary vote at the time of writing, beating out Labor candidate Mark Jeffreson 65.01 per cent to 34.99 per cent in two party preferred vote.
While his local supporters were celebrating his reelection, Mr McCormack acknowledged it was "bittersweet".
He will be working from the opposition position for the first time in nearly a decade, with the Labor Party returned to government.
But as he looked forward on Sunday, Mr McCormack's message to Riverina communities was "thank you".
"Thank you for the trust that you've placed in me, I will continue to work hard," he said.
"I've been in opposition before, I've achieved things from opposition before."
Mr McCormack said he had already reached out to the prime minister elect Anthony Albanese to wish him well.
He vowed to work with those in government to ensure "regional Australia is not forgotten".
"I do worry what might happen to regional funding," he acknowledged on Sunday.
"Let's hope they don't leave regional Australia behind ... certainly we'll be there making sure that they're held accountable.
"I will and I've spoken to the leader of our party Barnaby (Joyce) on the way over here, I've spoken to some other colleagues, we've got a job to do and we will do it to the very best of our ability and we will do it because of good people like you."
The Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program, Mr McCormack said, delivered $65million into the Riverina electorate "to keep local jobs and local procurement through the global pandemic which took 6.2 million lives across the world".
"We did that so that local councils could write off some of those bucket list items that they've had for decades and the benefits of that will be seen throughout the regions for many generations to come," he said.
"And yet some of those programs will be the first cut through this government."
As of Sunday night, Mr McCormack had 47.31 per cent of the primary vote - down 12.62 per cent on 2019.
Forbes local Steve Karatiaina claimed 5523 votes for the Shooters, Fishers, Farmers and was happy with that result - more from him in our separate story.
Those votes were scattered across eight candidates - double the choice Riverina voters had in 2019 - and Mr McCormack also acknowledged the impact of the past term.
It started in drought and saw bushfires, floods, and a global pandemic - a pandemic that "didn't come with a manual".
"What we did, we saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, we saved hundreds of thousands of businesses, tens of thousands of lives, with the policies we put in place which yes came at a cost," Mr McCormack said.
"A cost that was necessary and needed and I was proud to be part of those discussions and I was very pleased when Scott Morrison mentioned that not only in his campaign launch but his outgoing speech which I thought was very gracious."
On Sunday, Mr McCormack thanked his volunteers and staff and paid tribute to his wife Catherine, who visited Forbes with him on Sunday, and his adult children for their support.
As of Sunday evening 95,408 votes had been counted in Riverina. A total 6842 or 7.17 per cent of those were informal - that's an increase of 2.01 per cent on 2019.
Shooters Fisher Famers candidate Steve Karatiana claimed as much as 29.45 per cent of the primary vote at his home town polling booths.
At Forbes shire polling places he picked up 18.05 to 29.45 per cent of primary votes.
The biggest swing was against The Nationals incumbent Michael McCormack - ranging from a 7.06 per cent loss at Bedgerabong polling place to a 23 per cent loss at town venues.
United Australia Party also took a hit, with a drop of anywhere from 8.7 per cent to 15.92 per cent in primary votes across the Forbes shire polling venues.
Labor also saw a decrease in support ranging from 1.67 per cent to 7 per cent of primary votes at local booths, while Pauling Hanson's One Nation (2.5 to 9.82 per cent) and the Liberal Democrats (2.59 to 5.87 per cent) saw increases.
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