LIBERAL MP Dan Tehan has cemented his stake in Wannon after reclaiming his seat with a huge majority win.
As counting came down to the last few ballots, it became clear local promises and national discontent with the Labor Party had pushed Mr Tehan’s two-party vote up to 60 per cent, making it one of the safest Liberal seats in the nation on a 9.7 per cent margin.
Mr Tehan named the deciding factors as a $10 million promise for a south-west integrated cancer care centre and road funding.
The outcome puts the Liberal party in Wannon at its strongest position in nearly a decade since David Hawker held the seat in 2004.
“It’s very humbling. I’ve tried to work as hard as I can on the local issues,” Mr Tehan said.
The MP celebrated with his children yesterday at the MCG supporting Richmond against Carlton.
His team, unlike his boss Tony Abbott, did not win it’s decider yesterday.
Mr Tehan said he would not relax in the safe seat and pointed to Sophie Mirabella’s battle for her Victorian electorate of Indi, which is still to be decided.
“You only need to look at Indi — you never take a seat for granted,” Mr Tehan said.
“This is something new.
‘‘I’ve spent the last three years as an MP in opposition, now I will spend the next three in government.
‘‘I want to be a strong voice for the constituents here in Wannon.
‘‘I hope to remain accessible and approachable.
“I’ve got to deliver on the commitments that I’ve made and I’ve got to get out there and hear what the issues are.”
Attacks on Mr Tehan as a parachuted candidate in the 2010 election will likely become a distant memory as the relatively young MP embarks on a new chapter of a career in government.
Pressed on whether the multi-million dollar pledge for Warrnambool’s Peter’s Project cancer centre fund-raiser clinched the victory, Mr Tehan replied that Labor had spent three years “focusing on itself”.
“Peter’s Project has been an important issue in the south-west and the Labor Party has had the opportunity to do something with that in the last 12 months,” he said yesterday.
Labor candidate Michael Barling endured a 4.07 per cent swing against Labor despite running an energetic and local campaign to convince voters to make a change.
Greens challenger Tim Emanuelle, just 24 years old, made a modest primary percentage gain over the party’s 2010 candidate Lisa Owens, also bucking national voting trends.
“Holding the vote is a good result, anything else is a bonus,” Mr Emanuelle said.
“We’ve obviously seen a big swing to the conservatives across the nation.”
The young candidate tried to reposition the Greens as a healthcare party through out his campaign, announcing federal Greens support for Peter’s Project and pushing denticare reforms.
Mr Emanuelle was also declared the official winner of a candidates’ forum last month after giving a passionate performance.
“I’ll consider running again but at the moment I’m taking it all in,” he said.
He congratulated Mr Tehan, suggesting he had worked hard within his own party to convince colleagues to spend money in the safe blue-ribbon Liberal seat.
Palmer United Party candidate Bradley Ferguson proved campaigns can be successful without visiting or even knowing anything about the electorate.
Declaring he would only come to Wannon if he won, Mr Ferguson received more than 2800 votes — outpolling both Family First and the Sex Party.
Australian Christians’ candidate Therese Corbett, who made national headlines this year for comparing gays and paedophiles, finished last with just over 900 votes.