DAMIAN Drum has joined the rest of the nation in shock over the Coalition’s return to government – even though his own win in the new seat of Nicholls was no surprise.
Mr Drum said he expected a “strong effort” in the safe conservative seat – and that’s exactly what he received, with the fate of Nicholls decided in less than an hour.
Votes for the Nationals’ incumbent poured in soon after polls closed, dispelling any fears the rising water debate would cost the Coalition a seat as it had across the river in the recent NSW election.
Or that the seat’s recent rechristening (it was formerly Murray) and redistribution to include urban voters in Seymour and Broadford would rock its conservative power base.
With more than 80 per cent of votes counted in Nicholls, Mr Drum currently sits at 70 per cent on a two-party preferred basis, with Labor hopeful Bill Lodwick disappearing over the horizon at 30 per cent.
But as comprehensive as it was there was still a 12.6 per cent swing against the Nationals in primary votes.
But Mr Drum isn’t dwelling on that, he was still reeling over the Coalition’s stunning underdog victory.
“Obviously people just cannot accept Bill Shorten as their Prime Minister,” he said.
So what does Scott Morrison’s return as Prime Minister mean for Nicholls?
According to a glowing Mr Drum: “It will mean the elderly are not going to get stripped of their income as they enter retirement”.
“It's going to mean smaller family businesses are going to continue to be able to employ more people as opposed to having to reduce their workforce.
“With the Coalition Government, people can get on with their lives without government intruding.
“Whereas under a Labor Government, they were going to increase taxes on anybody they considered to be wealthy, as well as going after people of very modest incomes.”
When asked what he planned to do to tackle the water crisis, Mr Drum was quick to turn it back onto Labor.
“Everybody understands Labor's plan for water is considerably worse than anything we currently have,” he said.
“The Labor Party has unashamedly pronounced they want to take more water out of agriculture for the environment.
“That has been their clear objective and a clear policy differentiation from the Coalition.
“If we have the National Party back in government, we have somebody in there that is actually fighting for the farmers' rights of more water for agriculture.”
Despite evident relief about the win, Mr Drum made no lofty promises or plans for the coming weeks, saying it would just be work as usual.
“We haven't stopped working all through the campaign,” he said.
“And on Monday, we’ll just keep working for our people. So nothing changes.”