The Northern Territory’s Country Liberals government has held on to the seat of Blain, ensuring it won’t have to govern from a minority position.
“Better luck next time” was Chief Minister Adam Giles’ message to Labor, who despite a 10.1 per cent swing were unable to secure the seat.
Blain has never been lost by the Country Liberals since its creation in 1997.
Final results for Saturday’s election night had port worker Nathan Barrett victorious with 53.2 per cent on a two-party preferred basis over Labor’s Geoff Bahnert, on 46.8 per cent.
A jubilant Mr Barrett told reporters he was euphoric, and acknowledged he had big shoes to fill in taking over from former chief minister Terry Mills who resigned from the seat in February almost a year after being dumped from the top job.
“I really want to thank the people of Blain who came out and supported us today,” Mr Barrett said at a victory function at the Palmerston home of NT Senator Natasha Griggs.
“I’ll work my hardest, work my best … to make sure I’m representing them well and do all I can to help that electorate. All those issues we face, we face together.”
The win is “justice for good policy, good programs and good vision to try and drive the NT forward”, Mr Giles said.
“To those people in Labor and the unions who fought so hard through lies and innuendo to try to derail our campaign, I say ‘better luck next time’, with all humility, because the negative campaign displayed in Blain was quite treacherous to democracy and really undermined the values that Territorians hold ever so dearly.”
The government now holds a thin majority with 13 seats in the 25-seat Legislative Assembly.
Labor hailed the 10.1 per cent swing as a good sign for 2016’s general election.
“A one-seat majority in the deeply divided CLP is a continuation of the chaos and dysfunction we’ve seen in the last 18 months,” Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie told reporters.
“It’s a recipe for disaster for the CLP.”
She said her leadership remained strong despite losing what Mr Giles termed “an unloseable election for Labor”.
She said had there been a general election the CLP would have lost seven seats.
“This is a strong result for Labor,” she said.
“Make no bones about it, the CLP government is on notice by Territorians.”
Labor’s candidate Geoff Bahnert has been unsuccessful for the second time contesting Blain.
“Change is on the way,” he said.
“We want a better government for the people of the NT, and if it takes until 2016 to make that happen, I’m willing to wait.”