Updated, 11.30pm, Saturday:
Liberal MP for Wannon Dan Tehan has held back from declaring victory on election night as the uncertainty of preference flows leave the result in the balance.
Mr Tehan remained in the box seat late on Saturday night with 44.4 per cent of first preference votes, but with three quarters of ballots counted there was still a degree of doubt.
Independent candidate Alex Dyson was sitting in second place with 20.4 per cent of first preferences, with Labor's Gilbert Wilson right behind him on 19 per cent.
Many news outlets called the race for Mr Tehan early on in the evening based on two candidate calculations that allocated preference flows to Mr Tehan and Mr Wilson, despite Mr Dyson sitting above Mr Wilson on first preference votes.
This is because the Australian Electoral Commission has to make a prediction prior to election day about who the top two candidates will be. This prediction is often based on the result in the prior election, and in Wannon the top two candidates in 2019 were Mr Tehan and his Labor opponent.
When it becomes clear on election night that the AEC prediction is wrong, the AEC stops showing a two candidate preferred prediction and the preferences are reallocated. This is what occurred shortly before 11pm.
Late on Saturday evening, Mr Dyson said he wasn't ready to concede the race, saying it was "incredible" how close it was and that he had doubled his share of the primary vote since the 2019 election.
"I think we've seen the importance of listening to people," he said.
"In a safe seat you can think that your vote doesn't make a difference, but people are realising how powerful their vote is and really thinking about it."
Mr Dyson said he was thankful to his supporters and "proud of everyone in Wannon for not taking their vote for granted and making sure Wannon isn't taken for granted".
He said it had been a different campaign experience compared with 2019.
"It's been a much longer campaign and a slightly more serious campaign, but I feel like I've been even more myself, because I'm not just a joker all the time."
Mr Dyson was on track to win several of the polling booths around Warrnambool.
"It's so cool that the home town has back me. I'm more than 100 votes ahead at the Brauer College booth, and well ahead at Warrnambool Primary, my old school," he said.
Asked whether he would run again if he didn't get over the line, Mr Dyson said it would depend.
"If Wannon is facing the same issues and they haven't been addressed - if there's still a lack of housing, and terrible roads, and no anti-corruption commission, and poor access to healthcare, and Wannon's still missing out - then sure, I'll run again," he said.
"If all the problems get fixed then there's not so much need for an Alex Dyson. If politicians are able to start divvying out funds on a needs basis rather than a winning-elections basis then there will be no need for me to run."
He said regardless of where the preferences fell in the coming days he had definitively "made Wannon marginal" and given Mr Tehan "a scare".
"I'm proud the independent campaign could give people hope and show them change is possible," he said.
Incumbent Liberal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan is poised to retain his seat as of 9pm on Saturday night.
With more than half of all votes counted, Mr Tehan has close to 45 per cent of first preference votes, leading independent Alex Dyson on 20.5 per cent and Labor candidate Gilbert Wilson on 18 per cent.
On a two candidate preferred basis, the Australian Electoral Commission predicts Mr Tehan will win 60 per cent of the vote to Mr Wilson's 40 per cent.
This would represent only a fractional swing to Labor despite Mr Tehan's primary vote appearing to collapse by seven per cent.
While Mr Tehan looks on track for victory, the later preferences will likely determine whether the end result becomes closer than current forecasts predict, making Wannon a more marginal seat.
Like Mr Tehan and the Liberals, Labor appears to have suffered a major swing against it of roughly seven per cent.
Mr Dyson has been the king of the swingers, boosting his primary vote by more than 10 per cent
Of the other candidates in the race, the Greens' Hilary McAllister is sitting on six per cent of primary votes, while United Australia Party candidate Craige Kensen is hovering at three percent.
In a surprising turn of events, One Nation parachute candidate Ronnie Graham is also sitting on three per cent of the vote. Mr Graham does not live in Wannon, and there is no record of him visiting the electorate during the campaign.
Meanwhile, independent Graham Garner is sitting just above two per cent of first preferences and Liberal Democrats candidate Amanda Mead is just below two per cent.
At this point more than 3,000 Wannon votes have been designated "informal", meaning they were not filled out correctly and don't count. This means informal votes currently make up 4.5 per cent of Wannon ballots, an aggregate higher than any of the four "freedom" candidates.
MORE TO COME.
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