Kristy McBain reflects on Eden-Monaro campaign

Kristy McBain and Labor leader Anthony Albanese talking to mayor James Hayes at the Adelong Blazeaid camp during the campaign.

Kristy McBain is feeling “very honoured and humbled” after her victory in the Eden-Monaro by-election, saying mid-week that the result is “finally sinking in now.”

“[I’m] very happy and keen to get down to work,” she told The Times on Wednesday.

Ms McBain claimed victory in the by-election on Sunday, with a wafer-thin margin of 719 votes between her and Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs. Ms Kotvojs received a higher number of first-preference votes, but Ms McBain ultimately came out on top due to preferences from the Shooters, HEMP Party and even the Nationals.

Ms McBain said that because Eden-Monaro is a marginal seat, she always knew it was going to be a close result.

“We knew that it would be a tough race right to the end,” she said.

Ms Kotvojs conceded the by-election on Thursday night, also calling Ms McBain to congratulate her on her victory.

The Liberal candidate said in a statement that “While not elected, for me, it was a privilege to stand as the Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro; to seek the opportunity to represent, and work for, the people of our community.”

“Meeting and listening to peoples’ experiences across the electorate was an honour, and I appreciate everyone who took the time to share their stories with me – my life will never be the same. Thank you for giving me this gift,” Ms Kotvojs added.

Labor suffered swings against them in nearly every polling centre in the Snowy Valleys region, with Ms McBain only receiving the most first-preference votes in Tumut East (the High School polling centre). When asked about these results, Ms McBain said that all of the polling centres were “quite tight”, and that departing MP Mike Kelly’s personal vote was around 3 per cent, which would have impacted on Labor’s performance.

“There were a lot of people that really appreciated the work that Mike had done, so the challenge ahead of me now is to make sure that people get to know who I am and get to understand how I work,” Ms McBain said.

“I’m very much a person that’s keen on trying to build consensus and getting on with the job. I’m not interested in partisan politics; regional areas need somebody that’s going to champion them day in, and day out, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

In her first few days as member for Eden-Monaro, Ms McBain has already called Wagga Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr and Member for Riverina Michael McCormack.

“As I said early on in the campaign, it was always about local issues, and anyone in a regional seat needs to work with people from other political parties [and] different levels of governments to get things done,” Ms McBain said. “I think working together is the key to getting things done for communities.”

She said that she and Dr McGirr discussed a few of his ideas that she is keen to help progress, and she and Mr McCormack briefly discussed “how we work from here.”

When asked what her initial priority is as an elected member of Parliament, she said that “bushfire recovery is going to be a huge one.”

“About a quarter of the 2 billion dollar fund has been expended so far and we actually need to see more of those funds rolling out, and rolling out at a quicker pace to help a number of the industries that have been particularly impacted,” she said, referencing the Government’s bushfire recovery fund that was announced in January during the height of the fires.

“We actually need to see what some of the rebuild priorities are going to be [and] how is the Government planning on spending some of those funds to stimulate some economic recovery. That’s one particular area that I’ve already spoken to Joe McGirr on, and I’m really keen to work with him to make sure that we’re getting the best out of any particular economic recovery funds.”

When discussing particular projects that have been proposed across the electorate, Ms McBain said for her it’s about “trying to put forward the community’s ideas and being understanding of their key priorities, and making sure that I’m going to champion those ideas and priorities in Canberra.”