SATURDAY night’s election result was a debacle for the Liberals and saw the Federal Coalition thrown out of office and left with just 57 seats in the House of Representatives.

The Nationals on the other hand faired better with their vote holding and they have retainined all of their seats.

Member for Mallee Anne Webster was comfortably re-elected with an increased vote which reflected a 4.2 per cent swing to her.

Speaking to the media on Sunday morning Dr Webster said she was very grateful to the people who had re-elected her to the role.

“It’s been a really daunting three years. And really, I think everyone’s pleased to get through it,” she said.

“We’re now at a place, of course, where it’s rebuild time. And I think this is a time where the nation needs to pull together.

“I am very proud of the Mallee electorate and everything that this Mallee electorate achieves and very honoured and very humbled to again be representing everyone, whether they voted for me or not.”

Dr Webster was asked if she had been surprised at the increase in her vote.

“Last time was a three cornered contest, of course, and so it was going to change − at least I’d hoped it was going to change,” she said.

“I’m incredibly proud of supporters, volunteers who give up their time, all of my staff who’ve been amazing and have worked hard to look after the interests of people in Mallee through a really difficult time.”

Dr Webster will now sit on the opposition benches for the next three years, something which is said to be a less than enjoyable time.

“They do tell me that your best day in opposition is still worse than your worst day in government. So it’s not a very bright outlook. However, I will certainly make the most of it,” she said.

“Working in opposition my focus will continue to be Mallee and the interests of Mallee and its people.

“I’ve yet to see Labor really invest in the regions. I have relationships on the other side of the aisle forged when they were in opposition.

“My hope is to build on those relationships and to see the best interests of Mallee fulfilled.”

“I’m pretty thrilled the Nats have all kept their seats around the country. That’s an incredible outcome. And hopefully, we’ve grown in fact, obviously, we’ve got to wait for the final numbers to come in.

“Barnaby Joyce rang me this morning to congratulate me and I thanked him for his well wishes, obviously, everyone’s still waiting for those marginal seats to see how we actually land.”

There was speculation that former leader of the Nationals Michael McCormack could seek to return to the job following the election a prospect that will be tested when the Nationals meet next.

Dr Webster said that it was an issue for the party room.

“Just when we have the next party room meeting is not known yet, because until all the postal votes are counted, we’re not going to have a final outcome. But I know that he’s (Barnaby) certainly wanting to call the party room very shortly.

Dr Webster reiterated that in opposition she will continue fighting for the interests of regional communities in Mallee specifically, but for all regional communities across Australia.

“The region’s cannot be left behind and Labor have a great tendency to do that because they don’t have seats out here,” she said.

“Labor tend to leave behind regional communities and regional industries. And I think it’s at their peril.

“I’m absolutely focused on regions, I’m focused on agriculture, horticulture, our water.

“Labor have said they’re going to take the 450 GL, that is an incredible threat to the industries that we have locally. It’s not a small thing, that is a massive issue, and it’s being done to appease South Australia, fundamentally, and to help them win seats in South Australia.

“I think that’s an appalling reason to put regional communities at risk. And I will certainly be very vocal about that because I’m very concerned about it.

“It’s the same with the Ag visa, you know, they’ve already said they’re taking the Ag Visa off the table. We have fought for years to get that. And it was a UK Free Trade Agreement that brought that into place.

“The Nats fought for the Ag visa, Vietnam is signed up. And that’s now at risk, seriously at risk and so I think there’s going to be a bit of fighting going on here, in the interest of our region, there must be.”

– JOHN DOOLEY