Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has praised Kristy McBain for her performance in the Eden Monaro by-election in what was the first vote in Australia to be held in the coronavirus era.
“What is extraordinary here, given the circumstances, we’ve achieved this result,” he said. “It is a very favourable result for us.”
“It was an against the odds victory…we were always going to be outspent.”
Labor’s Kristy McBain has declared victory in the by-election, saying she had secured around 1000 votes more than her closest component, Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs.
The seat was vacated by Labor’s Mike Kelly, who has retired due to health issues.
Ms McBain thanked Dr Kotvojs and the other 12 candidates that ran in Saturday’s election.
The former mayor of Bega Council said it was an honour to represent the southeastern NSW seat.
“It has been election that has been fought on local issues, first and foremost,” she said.
She said it was fought on bushfire relief, on COVID-19 and its economic impact on the community and the drought.
“I know there is a lot of work to do,” she said.
Mr Albanese said he believed Ms McBain would be a “champion for the people of Eden-Monaro”.
“She is passionate about her local community, she is articulate, she has an extraordinary
capacity and she is someone who will look for solutions, not look for argument.”
He rejected claims the narrow victory could lead to leadership tensions in the federal Labor party.
“I don’t see it as an issue and never did. What this campaign was about was not people with power…it was about people who can’t get assistance, small businesses who don’t know what is going to happen to them after September in terms of JobKeeper. This is about all of those issues, it wasn’t about leadership.”
The vast electorate has suffered from drought, bushfires and the coronavirus recession.
The Australian Electoral Commission website shows Ms McBain won by 50.8 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis compared Dr Kotvojs on 49.2 percent.
However, Labor’s primary vote declined by 3.1 per cent, while the swing to the Liberals was just over one per cent.