THE Nationals’ Luke Hartsuyker has claimed victory in the race for Cowper and vowed to get on with the job ahead.
Port Macquarie is part of Cowper after a redistribution of federal electoral boundaries.
Mr Hartsuyker secured 42,356 first preference votes, or 46.46 per cent, with his closest rival, independent candidate Rob Oakeshott on 24,214, or 26.56 per cent, the vote count showed on Sunday.
“I’m really delighted with the support I’ve received from the people of Cowper to be elected now for the sixth time and I am delighted with the support I’ve received from the new part of Cowper, which I haven’t represented before in Port Macquarie,” he said.
Mr Hartsuyker said he was looking forward to working hard for the people of Cowper.
The incumbent claimed victory about 11.30pm on Saturday after the Port Macquarie pre-poll count came in.
Mr Hartsuyker said The Nationals performed strongly in NSW.
The party retained the northern NSW seats of Page, Cowper and New England and Lyne in the south.
Mr Hartsuyker said the Coalition did not have the numbers to form government at this point but the process would play out over the next couple of days.
“It would seem most likely that the Coalition will have the numbers to form government but we will have to wait,” he said.
Mr Hartsuyker on Sunday acknowledged a hung parliament was a possibility.
Election commitments, subject to the Coalition being re-elected, included $1.25 million to improve the Port Macquarie Airport passenger terminal and $100,000 to upgrade Oxley Oval.
“They are two Port Macquarie projects I want to get cracking,” Mr Hartsuyker said, subject to the national result.
He said economic growth and job creation were so critically important, particularly in regard to youth employment.
Mr Hartsuyker stressed the importance of the youth jobs pathway to help maximise the chances of job seekers under 25 finding work.
Meanwhile, Mr Oakeshott said there was still had an outside chance with preference flows for a different result but more than likely the Nationals would retain the seat.
“I would have loved to have won the seat, and to have represented the area, particularly with the way the national cards have fallen,” he said.
Mr Oakeshott said the reason he stood was to at the very least make it a very close seat and have it appear on the marginal electorate list.
“Life moves on and I congratulate Luke on a likely victory and I really hope he takes a message out of the campaign, and that is someone can run a three-week campaign, and get so close on a 14-year member,” he said.
“There are some issues that need to be addressed and hopefully they are addressed.”
Mr Oakeshott said Cowper was now on the marginal seat list.