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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.
Returning for a second term, 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.
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, cutting into Mr Drum's spacious 22.5 per cent margin from the 2016 election.
Early polling shows the Nationals are almost certain to retain Nicholls, with political experts predicting Damian Drum will be re-elected for a second term.
He currently sits at 69.3 per cent of two-party preferred votes.
With more than 16 per cent of votes counted, the Labor Party's Bill Lodwick is following up at 30.7 per cent.
VOTING has now closed.
Votes will start trickling in soon for the Nicholls electorate.
Without a Liberal opponent, it’s tipped Nationals incumbent Damian Drum will hold on to the seat, despite its recent redistribution and name-change.
Formerly Murray, the new seat of Nicholls now encompasses Seymour and Broadford and has lost Euroa, Violet Town and Loddon Shire.
But since the NSW election on March 23, when 87 years of conservative rule were swept away by fringe party candidate Helen Dalton in the electorate of Murray across the river, nothing is certain.
More to come.
NICHOLLS AT A GLANCE
Source: Australian Electoral Commission
- Very safe National - 22.5 per cent
- 14,768 sq km
- Nicholls consists of Campaspe Shire Council, Greater Shepparton City Council, Moira Shire Council, part of the Mitchell Shire Council, and part of the Strathbogie Shire Council.
Nicholls is the new name for the Murray electorate.
This year's redistribution has also seen the electorate lose Euroa and Violet Town to Indi, Loddon Shire to Mallee, with the boundary creeping south to gain Seymour and Broadford from McEwen.
This has shrunk the electorate from 19,500 to 14,768 square kilometres, with the National Party's two-party preferred margin slipping from 24.9 per cent to an estimated 22.5 per cent.
The new name honours Sir Douglas Ralph Nicholls (1906-1988), a footballer, activist, pastor, Governor of South Australia and significant Aboriginal rights and welfare activist.
As Murray, the electorate was created at the 1949 election as part of the expansion of the House of Representatives.
It has been held by a series of conservative leaders, beginning with former Country Party Leader Sir John McEwen (1949-71) and former Deputy-Leader Bruce Lloyd (1971-96).
During his tenure, McEwen served as Prime Minister for three weeks at the end of 1967 following the disappearance of Harold Holt.
After Lloyd retired at the 1996 election, pre-selection drama within the National Party saw the party lose to Liberal candidate Sharman Stone.
She held the seat comfortably until retiring in 2016, when the seat became a Coalition battleground, with Nationals candidate Damian Drum and Liberal hopeful Duncan McGauchie going head-to-head.
Election day saw Drum steal the seat from the Liberals with a slim two-candidate preferred buffer of 11 per cent.
But the next best after the Coalition candidates was Labor’s Allan Williams who polled almost 15 per cent.
And with no Liberal rival this year, Drum will be essentially untouchable.
|Candidate||Party||Primary %||2CP %|
Drum, 58, was born in Shepparton and educated there and in Kilmore.
He is a qualified builder and ran his own shed construction business for several years until 1993.
During this time he launched his AFL career, playing 65 games for Geelong from 1981 to 1990 and working as an assistant coach for the Sydney Swans from 1994 to 1998.
From 1999 to 2001 he became senior coach for the Fremantle Dockers before becoming senior coach of the Bendigo Diggers in 2002.
The same year, he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council for North Western Province, re-elected for the Northern Victoria Region in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
He resigned in 2016 to contest and win Murray (now Nicholls).
|DRUM Damian||The Nationals|
|HINE Stewart John||United Australia Party|
|LODWICK Bill||Australian Labor Party|
|FREEMAN Nickee||The Greens (VIC)|
|TYRRELL Rikkie-Lee||Pauline Hanson's One Nation|