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Labor hesitant to claim ugly win in Eden-Monaro

Federal Labor MPs are resisting the urge to claim victory in the marginal electorate of Eden-Monaro, where their candidate, Kristy McBain, is projected to win a slim majority of votes in the tight by-election.

Similarly, Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs has not conceded the election.

The current count shows her ahead of Ms McBain on first preferences, but falling just short on a two-party-preferred basis.

Late last night, ABC elections analyst Antony Green said the votes yet to be counted would be unlikely to turn the tide of the results, calling the election for Labor.

“When the two contenders spoke, preference counts for the Queanbeyan pre-poll centres had not reported,” he said.

“Once preference counts were reported, things were favourable for Labor.”

The counting process has been slowed by the significant number of votes cast by pre-poll or post due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 44,000 people cast their vote ahead of election day.

Labor’s Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said if Labor did get across the line, it would still be an imperfect victory.

“We are not claiming the win yet,” he said.

“But things are looking very good for us, and they will continue to improve, I think, over the course of the balance of the counting.

Despite likely clinging on in the seat, Labor’s primary vote fell by more than 2 per cent on current counts, compared to the 2019 federal election.

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Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs thanks supporters in Queanbeyan.

“We do need to lift our primary vote,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“We’ll have [Ms McBain] again next time and she’ll have the opportunity now to consolidate herself in that electorate, and I have no doubt she’ll lift that primary vote next time around.”

When Ms McBain and Ms Kotvojs addressed their separate camps last night, neither was willing to claim victory.

Ms Kotvojs said she hoped the community, which had been hit by fires, drought and COVID-19, would come together in the wake of the by-election.

“There have been people who still wake up with nightmares because of the fires. And together as a community, we need to work to address those issues,” she said.

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Kristy McBain makes an emotional speech to supporters.

Ms McBain told Labor faithful on the NSW South Coast last night that regardless of the result, she would continue to fight for the community.

“When the cameras go away and the spotlight fades, my resolve will not,” she said.

“Regardless of the outcome of this election I will continue to stand up for these regions that I know and love.”

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