It took until almost 9.30pm to satisfy Ann Sudmalis she had the numbers to win the seat of Gilmore as the seat became one of the nation’s closest.
The Liberal candidate won most of the booths across the municipality, securing 45.85 per cent of first preference votes as of midnight.
Labor’s Neil Reilly won 35.32 per cent, however after preferences the two candidates remained at 52-47 per cent for most of the night.
But when Ms Sudmalis arrived at the Nowra School of Arts to greet a 100-strong crowd of supporters, her words were of victory.
‘‘The numbers are there,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s time to get into some work.’’
She thanked her family and those who had helped on the campaign trail for the past 15 months, saying the change of government was crucial.
‘‘I’m just a small section of that machine to get us back on track.’’ she said.
‘‘We can do nothing but go forward.’’
She was unconcerned about the potential three per cent swing against the 5.5 per cent margin retiring member Joanna Gash secured in 2010.
‘‘I knew I was walking uphill,’’ she said.
While it was appeared not to be a case of third time lucky for Neil Reilly, the Labor candidate took many postives from the result.
Kiama councillor Mr Reilly was defeated by outgoing Gilmore MP Joanna Gash at the previous two federal elections.
He attended a gathering at Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemens Club on Saturday night, surrounded by about two dozen supporters, including wife Wendy.
Mr Reilly refused to concede defeat on Saturday night, saying if the final tally was close enough he would seek a recount.
“One of the things that is proven as a result of tonight, of all of the ALP seats in Australia, ours is the highest swing,” he said.
Mr Reilly attributed this to a different approach to many party colleagues.
“The reason I believe that we have that high swing is because we’ve accentuated the positive, and we’ve eliminated the negative,” he said.
“To the point where our head office has sent us out some banners that I considered to be unhelpful and I figured that if we had a good story to tell, we need to tell the good story.
“You don’t sell Holden by saying how bad Fords are.
‘‘It’s all very well for me to have that theory. However, the figures speak louder than the words. “All over Australia, it looks like we’ve had an enormous dip away from Labor.
“In this seat we’ve had an enormous swing towards Labor.
“That proves the point that it is better to accentuate the positive, and eliminate the negative.”
Mr Reilly also addressed the gathering, thanking his campaign staff, volunteers and his family.
“One little seat of Gilmore, that’s almost off the radar, mentioned once for about 20 seconds (on television) has the largest swing of any Labor seat in Australia,” he said.
“That is a result of all the work that you guys have done.
‘‘We have done so well, we’ve really made history. It ain’t over yet.
‘‘The job that we’ve got to do in the next little while is to convince the ALP that you can accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative… We’ve got to convince the ALP that they’ve got to change their manner of campaigning.”
Mrs Reilly, a veteran of three federal elections and two council elections spent this election day manning polling booths and supporting her husband.
“I’m very proud of him,” she said.
‘‘Unless people have the courage to stand up for what they believe in, then it will all go to wrack and ruin.”