Chester cements place in Gippsland

Sitting member for Gippsland Darren Chester has received a resounding endorsement from his constituents, gaining 57.14 per cent of the primary vote on Saturday and attracting a 2.9 per cent swing towards him on a two candidate preferred basis.

These figures are based on 81 per cent of the votes having been counted.

“It’s a humbling experience to be elected to Parliament once in life, but to do it several times is extraordinary,” Mr Chester said yesterday.

“To receive a swing is a reward for the efforts of my team, the strong staff and volunteers across Gippsland who have worked hard over the past eight years.

“But we are determined not to rest on our laurels and hope we get to form government to deliver on the projects we announced.”

Mr Chester was elected to the seat of Gippsland in the 2008 by-election following the resignation of Peter McGauran.

This year’s result further cements Gippsland as a safe seat, which has been held by The National Party and its predecessor since 1922.

Labor candidate for Gippsland Shashi Bhatti said he was “devastated” by the 31.24 per cent two candidate preferred Labor result to Mr Chester’s 68.76 per cent, saying he expected a closer contest.

The Morwell accountant and political novice was announced as Labor’s candidate almost half way through the election campaign, after the withdrawal of Latrobe Valley teacher Carolyne Boothman following legal advice about the incompatibility of her candidacy and job as a teacher.

Mr Bhatti said he believed his limited time as the candidate and the ongoing Country Fire Authority dispute at the state level contributed to the Gippsland election result.

Mr Bhatti did not rule out continuing a political career and said he would work to ensure Mr Chester delivered on his election promises.