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Newcastle Herald

Election 2022: Early rush to pre-poll was a sign of the obvious as voters embrace Labor and change

DAN THE MAN: Dan Repacholi, traditional Labor values, but the nation is changing.

DESPITE Coalition hopes of another explanation, the big and early pre-poll turnout was confirmation of an electorate getting rid of a Coalition administration that came to power in September 2013 under Tony Abbott.

Anthony Albanese has won well, with official figures showing a 3.96 per cent swing to Labor after preferences, for a two-party preferred vote of 52.43 per cent to 47.57 per cent.

This more than reverses Scott Morrison's 2019 "miracle" victory - 51.53 per cent to 48.47 per cent.

Two Thursdays ago in this space we pondered the potential of a re-run - in reverse - of the 1996 election that saw John Howard sweep to power after Paul Keating's come-from-behind success in 1993, his "sweetest victory of all".

Times have certainly changed since then, but the political adage that "the voters are always right" remains as relevant as ever.

In this region, a sustained attempt, led by Scott Morrison with repeated visits, to entice the voters away from Labor has failed completely.

Mr Albanese's "captain's pick" for the Hunter electorate, Dan Repacholi, won comfortably in the end, completing a red sweep by holding the seat the conservatives had hoped they could pinch after the retirement of ALP veteran Joel Fitzgibbon.

Mr Repacholi loudly proclaimed his allegiance to the coal miners of the region on Saturday night, but the pressure on the industry - already severe - will only intensify with a Labor government more committed to a climate change response than the Coalition.

Mr Repacholi thinks Labor can back coal and renewables but a substantial bloc of Greens and "Teal" Independents will have other ideas.

Prime among the Teals is Monique Ryan, whose Shakespearean defeat of Josh Frydenberg tore the red carpet from beneath the feet of a man who'd been steadily working his way to The Lodge.

The Liberals will regroup under a new leader.

Scott Morrison was not a popular PM, but he did end a period of backstabbing turmoil on his side of politics.

The voters have embraced Mr Albanese despite his campaigning stumbles, which will surely fade into insignificance if he does a good job as Australia's 31st prime minister.

He will always be welcome in the Hunter, but Labor's first-preference vote of just 32.89 per cent shows the party must govern for many who did not vote for it if the Albanese administration is to succeed.

ISSUE: 39,877