Liberals set to reclaim country electorate by just 15 votes

 theage.com.au  12/8/2018 6:47:35 AM  3

Liberals set to reclaim country electorate by just 15 votes

The Liberal Party is claiming victory in the ultra marginal country electorate of Ripon by just 15 votes.

Liberal incumbent Louise Staley is set to be returned after taking the seat from the Labor Party in 2014.

Ripon MP Louise Staley is set to be returned with a tiny margin.

Ripon MP Louise Staley is set to be returned with a tiny margin. Credit:Charlotte Grieve

Before the November 24 election, Ripon was already the Liberals’ most marginal seat, which they held by just 0.8 per cent.

It was also the last lower house seat to be counted and will be officially declared on Monday.

"The Ripon District recount preference distribution is now complete, with the Liberal candidate, Louise Staley, successful by 15 votes," the The Victorian Electoral Commission said late on Saturday afternoon.

Winning Ripon will give the Liberal Party four seats held by women in the lower house.

The result is a small win for the Coalition, which suffered a landslide loss against Labor at the state election.

It comes days after Labor claimed a historic election victory in the once blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Hawthorn, sinking star opposition MP John Pesutto’s hopes of leading his party from the ashes.

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Mr Pesutto was considered a front runner for the leadership of the Victorian Liberal Party, but the loss of his seat forced him out of contention.

Newly-elected Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said winning Ripon was a great morale boost for the Liberal Party.

“This is a great result for Louise Staley who has held the most marginal Liberal seat in Victoria,” he said on Saturday. “Louise is a remarkable campaigner.”

The Liberal Party assembled some of its most senior MPs and party figures to act as scrutineers while the vote was being counted.

Victorian state director Nick Demiris, deputy leader Cindy McLeish, upper house leader David Davis and deputy upper house leader Georgie Crozier were among the scrutineers.

The government and opposition honed in on Ripon during the campaign with both sides promising a $100 million upgrade for the Maryborough hospital.

Meanwhile, the VEC is set to conclude counting for the Victorian Parliament’s upper house on Tuesday.

Up to a quarter of the 40 seats in the Legislative Council are expected to be won by minor or micro parties thanks to a complex set of preference deals from so-called preference whisperer Glenn Druery.

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