LOWAN remains safely in National Party hands despite a bad weekend for the junior Coalition partner.
Edenhope Hospital chief executive Emma Kealy won a thumping majority in the electorate which covers Hamilton and Horsham to replace retiring MP Hugh Delahunty.
On a two-party preferred basis, Ms Kealy maintained a similar result to Mr Delahunty’s 2010 election win, despite a high-profile challenge from independent Katrina Rainsford.
The new Lowan MP celebrated her victory with supporters at Horsham’s Exchange Hotel in an evening tinged with disappointment over the Coalition’s loss.
“It was a great result and really reflects Hugh Delahunty’s hard work over the past 15 years and the high regard people hold the National Party,” Ms Kealy said. “We didn’t have a celebration on Saturday night as such, given the overall state result, but it was more an opportunity to thank our volunteers.”
The National Party is on track to lose party status with several of its seats hanging in the balance over the weekend, including Shepparton and Morwell.
The disasterous result has led to a meeting this week in Spring Street over the future of the state coalition between the Liberal and National parties.
Ms Kealy declined to indicate whether she wanted to see the Coalition continue or not, adding the National Party was focused on close contests in Shepparton and Morwell.
Dr Rainsford, who ran as an “independent Liberal” candidate, said she was flabbergasted by the result in Lowan on Saturday night.
“The problem was people saying they’d support you to your face and then going and voting for the National Party anyway,” the Hamilton vet said.
“We deserve to be forgotten by the rest of Victoria if we keep electing the National Party time after time after time.”