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 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.
There was a big swing away from The Nationals - ranging from a 10 per cent drop in support at the Uniting Church booths to a 21 per cent drop at Parkes High School.
The United Australia Party also lost voters, with a seven to 10 per cent drop recorded across polling places.
Labor lost anywhere from one per cent of voters to 9.66 per cent across town polling venues.
So where did the voters go?
To Steve Karatiana and the Shooters, Fishers Farmers, standing for the first time at a federal level and gaining seven to 12.58 per cent of votes across local town polling places.
Richard Orchard for Pauline Hanson's One Nation picked up anywhere from nine to 11.42 per cent of the votes; and Liberal Democrat Dean McCrae from 5.7 to 8.77 per cent of the votes at local polling places.
The story was similar across our rural polling places, from Bogan Gate to Peak Hill and Trundle, with the exception of more moderate results for Labor's Mark Jeffreson who picked up voters in two venues.
Again, there was a swing away from The Nationals and the United Australia Party with voters opting for: Shooters, Fishers and Farmers; One Nation and to a lesser degree Liberal Democrats.
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