The Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Eden-Monaro has conceded defeat after last week’s tightly fought by-election.
In a statement issued on Thursday night, Fiona Kotvojs said with less than 2000 votes left to count, the result was clear that Labor had retained the seat.
Dr Kotvojs said she had spoken with the newly elected Labor MP Kristy McBain to congratulate her.
The NSW south coast seat has been described as a bellwether seat, usually held by the government.
Eden-Monaro used to be a bellwether electorate for which party would win government.
For 17 federal elections in a row the winning candidate in Eden-Monaro entered Parliament and took their seat on the government benches.
But that streak broke in 2016 with the return of Labor’s Mike Kelly.
Now, new history is being made with Ms McBain becoming the first woman to win the seat.
Like all regional seats, Labor’s vote tends to be in regional cities, with Coalition support stronger in smaller towns.
The extension of the Eden-Monaro electorate ahead of the 2016 election helped the Coalition by removing Batemans Bay on the south coast and extending the electorate around the ACT to include more traditional conservative-voting rural districts.
But Eden-Monaro is different from most regional seats, due to the nature of the electorate’s largest centre – Queanbeyan.
The city is in part a dormitory suburb for the national capital and Labor’s vote is stronger there than most regional cities.
This explains why Eden-Monaro is always more marginal than most regional seats.
To add to its uniqueness, this by-election, triggered by the resignation of Mr Kelly, was held in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – the usual rules of campaigning were thrown out with social-distancing regulations.
He described the former Bega mayor as “an extraordinary advocate for the people of Eden-Monaro”.
“For all those people who voted for Kristy McBain, she will make them proud,” he said previously.
“For those who didn’t, when they see her in operation, they will think about and consider giving her a vote at the general election.”