THE sitting local member, Liberal Russell Broadbent, has been returned to McMillan, but the overall result of the federal election held last Saturday remains in limbo.
With neither of the major parties achieving a clear majority, votes still being counted and independent MPs likely to hold the balance of power, it could be a week or more before it can be determined who will govern Australia for the next three years.
“I am humbled that the people of McMillan went against the trend in Victoria and retained me as their local member,” said Mr Broadbent.
“I’d like to thank the people who supported me, particularly those who braved the cold on Election Day and handed out how-to-vote leaflets supporting me at booths across McMillan.”
Mr Broadbent expressed glee at the likely prospect of three independent MPs from rural/regional electorates – Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter – holding the balance of power in the House of Representatives.
“It will make the city-centric politicians sit up and take notice of the issues that we have been screaming about for the last three years and beyond!” he said. “Issues such as proper funding for public education, broadband, health issues, reducing emissions across the country, the power we’ll need to run our dairy farms and our communities, and encouraging more doctors to rural areas.”
Mr Broadbent said he knew all three independent MPs well, particularly Tony Windsor, whom he described as “a man of integrity”.
Mr Broadbent himself did well to maintain his seat of McMillan.
“We ran a very strong campaign for three years, including constant campaigning in the last five weeks,” he said. “One thing the people of McMillan have going for them is me!”
The electorate stretches from Noojee in the north through Warragul, Pakenham and Moe to Leongatha, Wonthaggi, Foster, Welshpool and Wilsons Promontory in the south. Mr Broadbent has held it for the Liberals since 2004, but with its mix of suburban fringe, rich farmland and the industrial Latrobe Valley, McMillan is regarded as a marginal seat. A boundary redistribution several years ago added further complication to electoral outcomes in a seat which has for decades swung between the Liberal Party and the ALP. Mr Broadbent first won McMillan from the ALP in 1996, only to lose it to Christian Zahra of the ALP in 1998 – and win it back in 2004.
In this election Mr Broadbent won 36,203 votes or 49.22 per cent of the total votes in McMillan, down just 0.71 per cent on his vote total in the 2007 election. ALP candidate Christine Maxfield had a two per cent swing against her, scoring 26,580 votes or 36.14 per cent. Greens candidate Malcolm McKelvie received 9.31 per cent of the votes (6,847), up 3.31 per cent on the 2007 Greens vote. Linden Stokes received 2,386 votes for Family First and Independent Leigh Gatt received 1,536 votes. On a two party preferred basis, Russell Broadbent received 54.2 per cent of the vote, while Christine Maxfield received 45.8 per cent. This represents a negligible swing to the ALP and away from the Liberal Party of 0.59 per cent compared to the 2007 figures.
In the neighbouring – and much more rural – electorate of Gippsland, Darren Chester was returned strongly for The Nationals, securing 42,251 (53.97 per cent) of the votes, an increase of 5.6 per cent on his 2007 count. Darren McCubbin attracted 24,863 (31.76 per cent) of the votes for the ALP, down 4.79 per cent on the ALP’s 2007 count. Greens candidate Michael Bond attracted 4,762 votes (6.08 per cent) which was only 0.54 per cent more than the Greens vote in Gippsland at the last federal election. On a two-party preferred basis The Nationals scored 61.76 per cent of the vote in the electorate of Gippsland (up 5.85 per cent), while the ALP scored 38.24 per cent (down 5.85 per cent).