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Nats by mile

Monday, 4th July, 2016

The winner eats cake ... Nationals MP Mark Coulton celebrates with supporters at his Dubbo Office on Saturday night. The winner eats cake ... Nationals MP Mark Coulton celebrates with supporters at his Dubbo Office on Saturday night.

By Michael Murphy

Nationals MP Mark Coulton comfortably retained the seat of Parkes on Saturday night, despite a strong Labor vote in the city of Broken Hill.

The newly-elected Member for Parkes yesterday said he would still do his “utmost” to represent the Silver City on the national stage, even though the local population did not endorse him.

Labor’s Kate Stewart won each of the polling booths in Broken Hill, including the coveted Morgan Street Primary booth which the Liberals’ Sussan Ley won at the previous election.

Almost all booths in the electorate were counted on Saturday night.

In Parkes, on a two-party preferred basis, Mr Coulton secured 64.65 percent of the vote over Ms Stewart’s 35.35 percent.

Mr Coulton said yesterday the redistribution of the Parkes electorate probably impacted his vote in Broken Hill.

“I think people are not happy with the redistribution, despite the fact it wasn’t a government decision ... people don’t like being shifted around,” Mr Coulton said.

He said the controversy surrounding Menindee Lakes and the Darling River would have also impacted the vote.

“That’s obviously got a lot of people upset,” he said.

“But I think that there’s potential for that issue to be resolved,” he said, referring to the State Government’s pipeline plan, the “re-engineering” of Menindee Lakes, and a flow coming down the river at the moment.

“I think all those things added up together have people in a fairly anxious state and I think that’s probably why the vote was as it was.”

Mr Coulton said he would now work at securing an office in Broken Hill. 

“But before that happens I will be out touching base with council and others to let the people of Broken Hill know that I take my role seriously, and will be doing the very best I can to represent them.”

Mr Coulton will join his colleagues in Canberra this week to endorse their party leader, and discuss what a Coalition government would look like if they win power. 

“It was quite a confused result across the country last night,” he said yesterday.

“There was not any sort of direct pattern to it.

“It’s going to be tight, but it looks like the Coalition will probably form government.”

He said the Nationals won back every seat - including the “very important” seat of New England held by Barnaby Joyce.

The Deputy Prime Minister claimed victory in that electorate on Saturday night after a bitter campaign against independent rival Tony Windsor. 

“So with the swing against the government, for the National Party to maintain their numbers is a great win,” Mr Coulton said.

“I think Barnaby has played a part in that.

“He is very good at delivering a message, and he has put regional Australia back on the national agenda.”

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