Kyabram residents make their vote count

Bright and early: The Kyabram P-12 College polling station on Saturday. Photo by Caitlyn Grant

The Nationals’ heartland in Nicholls delivered for Sam Birrell, who predictably carried nearly all the smaller rural booths, but, crucially independent Rob Priestly struggled in the larger towns outside Shepparton.

In Kyabram, the Nationals won 56-44 after preferences but in the surrounding districts of Ky Valley, Tongala, Undera, Girgarre, Byrneside and Lancaster the vote reached 60 per cent.

Merrigum was a tight Birrell win 51-49, while Rushworth voted 55-45 in the Nationals’ favour.

Voters steadily trickled into Kyabram P-12 College’s polling station on the morning of Saturday, May 21.

Kyabram’s Anna Tinkler — coming into her fourth time voting — was one of the earlier bunch to hit the polls, as voters attended Kyabram P-12 College’s polling station on the morning of Saturday, May 21.

Bright and early: Anna Tinkler voted in Kyabram on Saturday, May 21.

She said this election she would be voting for independent candidate for Nicholls Rob Priestly.

“I think Rob Priestly has some great ideas for our community and knows what we really need, I think for Shepparton but also for the greater region,” she said.

She said when selecting her vote, the cost of living weighed heavy in her priorities.

Having lived in Melbourne for several years, Ms Tinkler said she always had the mindset she wouldn’t be able to afford to buy a home in the metropolitan area.

Coming back to live in Kyabram, she assumed she would have a better chance of purchasing a house, but said she found it was still a difficult market to enter as a young person.

The Priestly camp expected to poll well in the major population centre of Shepparton, but the results across the booths were not uniform.

St Brendan’s in central Shepparton was won easily by Mr Priestly with 61 per cent to Sam Birrell’s 39 per cent after preferences.

If that result had been repeated across Shepparton the result would have been a lot closer.

The independent also won Shepparton North 57-43 and Shepparton South 53-47 but Kialla was evenly split and the Nationals narrowly won Shepparton East.

While his performance on polling day was strong, the margin and number of votes cast were not enough for Mr Priestly to cut into the margin.

Pre-poll turned out to be critical in Shepparton, with more than 15,000 votes cast at two centres not reflecting the level of support for the independent on polling day.

At the main pre-poll 11,000 votes were cast and Mr Priestly captured 33 per cent of the primary vote to the Nationals’ 28 per cent and Liberals’ 15 per cent.

Preferences favoured Mr Birrell and while Mr Priestly won 50.6 to 49.4, the narrow margin wasn’t enough to make a difference overall.

It was a similar story at the second pre-poll, where 5853 votes were cast, with Mr Priestly receiving 35.5 per cent of the primary vote, but after preferences led by a similarly slender 51-49.

In Echuca, where the vast majority of votes were pre-poll, Mr Priestly’s primary vote dropped to 20 per cent and the Nationals’ margin after preferences was 59-41.

It was a narrower win for the Nationals in all three booths on election day.