GRIFFITH voters have helped deliver Riverina incumbent Michael McCormack a stunning election victory.
The Nationals member was returned with a thumping majority at Saturday’s federal poll, garnering close to 60 per cent of the primary vote before the counting of postals, pre-polls and absentee votes – a swing of more than 14 per cent.
“I’m very humbled, it’s a great feeling,” Mr McCormack said yesterday.
“I’ve had a great campaign team and everyone that knows me knows I’m a fighter.
“I put the Riverina first and always will.”
Despite a local campaign dominated by minor party calls to make the Riverina more marginal, Griffith voters gave a resounding endorsement to Mr McCormack and the Coalition.
He said fighting for better health services for Griffith – including a Headspace facility – and helping fill a funding gap to move Griffith’s freight terminal would be priority issues for him in the coming term.
Mr McCormack polled strongly at Griffith’s two main booths, attracting 65.54 per cent of primaries at the PCYC and 64.25 per cent at Griffith North.
His weakest local booth was at West Griffith, where he polled 55.15 per cent of the primary vote, about 30 per cent more than Labor’s Tim Kurylowicz.
Mr Kurylowicz, a first-time candidate, attracted about 20 per cent of the primary vote electorate-wide, a 1.68 per cent swing against Labor – less than the national swing.
Palmer United Party’s Lex Stewart, who finished third with more than 5 per cent of the primary vote, said preferences could have handed him an unlikely victory.
“I’m clearly disappointed because we got all the preferences and if we had pulled the Nats down to 48 per cent, we would have won the seat,” Mr Stewart said.
“The Nats’ performance for 30 years has been damaging to rural Australia yet people in areas like this still vote for them.”
Speaking outside the North Griffith polling booth, Griffith resident Scott Simpson said while Kevin Rudd was his preferred prime minister, he voted for Mr McCormack based purely on local issues.
“I just thought he had more realistic solutions for Griffith,” Mr Simpson said.
“He showed strong leadership on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and seemed more engaged with issues affecting Griffith residents.”