Napthine vows to keep fighting for south-west despite crushing defeat

Former premier Denis Napthine has stood down as Liberal Party leader but will continue to serve in Parliament as member for South West Coast.  Pictures: FAIRFAX

Former premier Denis Napthine has stood down as Liberal Party leader but will continue to serve in Parliament as member for South West Coast. Pictures: FAIRFAX

SOUTH-WEST Victoria stays a Liberal stronghold despite a thumping loss to the Coalition government after one term in office.

Outgoing premier Denis Napthine has confirmed he will remain as South West Coast’s representative, even though he will stand down as Liberal Party leader.

Labor managed to reverse much of the losses made statewide at the 2010 election to form government in its own right on Saturday night in a historic victory for premier-elect Daniel Andrews.

Dr Napthine’s electorate was one of the few constituencies to record a pro-Liberal swing on Saturday, with the vast majority of seats statewide heading Labor’s way.

He told The Standard yesterday he was obviously disappointed by the result but wanted to continue in Spring Street as the region’s representative, avoiding any potential byelection.

“The people of South West Coast have shown confidence in my work as local member and I intend to keep fighting for our region,” Dr Napthine said. 

“I want to continue as the local member.

“It’s absolutely important that as an experienced voice in Parliament that I hold the city-centric Labor party to account. 

“The Labor party’s contempt for South West Coast was evident throughout the campaign, given they ignored stage two of the Warrnambool Base Hospital redevelopment, among other issues.”

New Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews celebrates victory for the Labor party in Saturday’s election.  Pictures: FAIRFAX

New Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews celebrates victory for the Labor party in Saturday’s election. Pictures: FAIRFAX

Mr Andrews told voters he was humbled by the honour of forming government in a speech delivered to the Labor party faithful on Saturday night. The 42-year-old is Victoria’s youngest premier since the end of the Second World War and previously served as health minister in the Brumby government.

Outgoing transport minister Terry Mulder easily retained Polwarth for the Liberal Party while National Party candidate Emma Kealy won Lowan, entering Parliament for the first time. Mr Mulder confirmed last night he would continue as Polwarth’s representative for the next four years. 

Other developments on state election weekend include:

-The Greens winning lower house representation for the first time;

-a fragmented upper house with several micro parties likely to hold the balance of power;

- discussions over the future of the Liberal-National coalition;

- Port Fairy accountant James Purcell edging closer to winning an upper house seat for his fledgling Vote1 Local Jobs party;

- National Party sustaining heavy losses including in its Shepparton heartland; and

-a tight contest between the major parties in the Latrobe Valley.

Dr Napthine’s pledge to stay on as South West Coast’s representative will spare voters from having to return to the polling booths at a swiftly-called byelection. 

The outgoing Premier has held the constituency since it was formed at the 2002 state election.

At the 2010 state election, former premier John Brumby resigned from Parliament almost immediately after losing power, causing a byelection in his Broadmeadows constituency only three months after the general election.

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