For the first time is six years, Farrer has a sitting member serving as part of a federal government. Member for Farrer Sussan Ley retained her seat convincingly at Saturday’s federal election polling booths, and now begins her fifth term as the local member.
Berrigan Shire Mayor Bernard Curtin said he was not surprised by the federal election result and Ms Ley’s big winning margin.
Cr Curtin said the Member for Farrer’s standing in the Coalition government should bode well for the Southern Riverina, in both representation and wins in Parliament.
‘‘I don’t think we were surprised with Sussan being returned as our local member,’’ Cr Curtin said.
‘‘We are now hoping Sussan will also get a portfolio.
‘‘I believe [Ms Ley serving in a Coalition government] will allow us the opportunity for her to lobby for us in a much stronger manner, which she has already indicated to me.
‘‘We, the Shire, currently have a couple of issues we will be discussing with her.’’
Cr Curtin said Berrigan Shire had already written to Ms Ley congratulating her on her appointment.
He said he believes Ms Ley’s retention will ‘‘renew Sussan’’.
‘‘We’re looking forward to working with Ms Ley,’’ Cr Curtin said.
‘‘It’s important that whoever is in power that we work together.’’
While postal votes are yet to be counted, Ms Ley’s likely re-election was evident once first preferences were counted. She held almost 57 per cent of the vote — 40,911 from the 71,782 formal votes — representing an upward swing of 5.58 per cent.
Ms Ley said she was ‘‘very grateful and humbled’’ to be re-elected.
‘‘I am determined to keep faith with the people who have re-elected me,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s easy to think it’s all about you, but the Liberal brand is very strong — people want Tony Abbott as their Prime Minister.
‘‘It’s about the team and not the individual — Tony Abbott stands by that, he is not an autocratic leader.’’
With the government elected, Ms Ley said she would make a start on changing the focus of the unpopular Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
‘‘We have got to wait until we have a ministry, but as soon as we know who the water minister is, I will convene a meeting along with Michael McCormick (Riverina), Sharman Stone (Murray) and new Mallee member Andrew Broad. We all represent irrigated agriculture regions.
‘‘I can’t wait to get started, but there is always a transition and these things can take time.
‘‘It is more of an administration change of what was passed, in a sensible way, but we do have a lot of negotiating to do.’’
On the carbon tax, Ms Ley confirmed media reports that the Coalition may not be able to scrap the tax until mid next year.
‘‘The incoming Senate comes in in July next year.
‘‘Under the current Senate we probably won’t get any change, but the new senators will know there is a strong mandate to scrap the tax – they should observe the will of Australia.’’
Ms Ley said the Coalition ministry may not be formed for at least a week, maybe longer, and said she was unsure whether she would be offered a front bench position.
‘‘Just because you’re a shadow minister does not mean you will be minister.
‘‘My most important job is as local member, but I would be delighted to be asked to be in Mr Abbott’s ministry.
‘‘I remember the words of my mentor Brendan Nelson who said ‘when you look down you can see the most important people in the front, but you can make just as important a contribution even if you’re in the back’.’’
Across 150 seats, the Coalition held 86 at the time of going to print — 10 more than the minimum needed to claim power.
Labor held 57 seats, but with only four seats to be determined the Coalition is guaranteed to take power.
The three remaining seats went to The Greens, Katter’s Australian Party and an Independent respectively.
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