Midnight. No fewer than 10,291 pre-polls have been added to the count, together with the outstanding booths. This leaves the primary vote totals at 45.4% for the Nationals, 26.5% for the Liberals and 15.6% for the Greens.
8.10pm. Only two laggard booths are outstanding, with the Nationals on 45.1% and likely on my estimation to rise a little, the Liberals on 25.3%, and the Greens on 16.6%.
7.21pm. The Sale booths are in and they had the Nationals in the low forties and the Liberals in the low thirties. We seem to be looking at a Nationals vote of 47% with the Liberals in the upper twenties, and the Greens third on around 15%. There are 33 booths out of 46 in overall, with 13,500 votes counted.
7.10pm. Exactly half the 46 booths are now in, and I now have the projected Nationals primary vote up to 48.1%.
7.03pm. Sixteen booths now and 3339 counted. The raw Nationals vote is 50.2%, from which I make an 11.3% swing on a booth-matched basis for a projected total of 46.0%. The Liberals are 23.3% on the raw vote, but maybe that will increase when votes from Sale and Leongatha come in. Even so, there’s no reason to think the Nationals are in trouble.
6.48pm. The VEC preference throw is Nationals-versus-Greens, which is … not what I would have done.
6.45pm. I’ve now got the drop in the Nationals vote up to 14.3%, from which I’m projecting 43.1%. The Liberals are matching it with them in the larger centres, but the Nationals are polling over 70% in rural booths.
6.40pm. Five booths in on the primary vote, adding up to 649 counted, and the raw vote has the Nationals on 60.1%. I make that to be an 11.7% drop on November in these rural and heavily pro-Nationals booths, pointing to an overall result of 45.6%. With no reason to think preferences will favour the Liberals, that shouldn’t bother them unduly. The Liberals and Greens are so far matching it on around 16.5% of the primary vote, with nobody else registering.
6pm. Polls have closed. The electorate is peppered with very small booths that should conduct their counts very quickly, so we should start seeing results in little more than half an hour.
A minor Victorian state by-election is being held today in the seat of Gippsland South, which has been vacated after Peter Ryan, who led the Nationals during the period of the Baillieu-Napthine government, bowed out in the wake of the November election defeat. Labor has predictably given the by-election a miss, so the main point of interest is presumably whether a Liberal candidate gains any traction.
Gippsland South extends from Leongatha and Korumburra in the west to Sale in the east, encompassing a 200 kilometre stretch of coastline that includes Wilsons Promontory. It has existed without interruption since 1859, and has never been held by Labor. Sir Herbert Hyland first gained the seat for the Country Party in 1929, and retained it through an epic parliamentary tenure that ended with his death in 1970. It then fell to Liberal candidate James Taylor, who was defeated in 1973 and would later return as a member for the local upper house province. Neil McInnes then held the seat for the Country/National Party until he defected to the Liberals in 1980, for which he was rewarded with defeat at the next election in 1982. The Nationals have held the seat ever since, Peter Ryan succeeding Tom Wallace as member in 1992.
The Nationals candidate is Danny O’Brien, who has held a seat for the Eastern Victoria region in the Legislative Council since March last year, when he filled a casual vacancy created by the retirement of Peter Hall. He retained the seat at the election last November from second place on the joint Coalition ticket. O’Brien started his career as a journalist for WIN Television, and was later an adviser to the then federal Nationals leader, Mark Vaile, then chief-of-staff to Barnaby Joyce and Peter Ryan. The Liberal candidate is Scott Rosetti, described by the ABC as a Wellington Shire councillor and high-profile Sale businessman. Also in the field are four independents (Warren Sanders, Viv Pepper, Deb Meester and Gerard J. Donohue) and candidates of the Greens (Andrea Millsom) and the Liberal Democratic Party (Jim McDonald).
Considerably more detail is as always available courtesy of Antony Green. Live coverage of the count will be featured here from the close of polls at 6pm.