Elated yet humble, Nationals candidate Damian Drum is delighted to resume his role as the federal member for Nicholls after winning 52.17 per cent of the primary vote at Saturday’s election.
Returning for a second term as the region’s member, Mr Drum received 44457 first preference votes and obtained 71.01 per cent of the two-candidate preferred votes, followed by Labor candidate Bill Lodwick with 28.99 per cent.
‘‘It feels pretty amazing to return as the region’s representative in Canberra,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s an amazing feeling, but it’s also a huge responsibility and it means another three years of really hard work.’’
Quietly confident about keeping his position in the Nicholls electorate, Mr Drum said he did not expect to win by such a large margin.
‘‘When I was standing at the pre-polls, the feeling was relatively positive,’’ he said.
More surprisingly for Mr Drum was the Coalition’s federal government victory.
‘‘I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the political chatter, but also there were so many polls taken that simply had the coalition stuck on 48 to 49 per cent of the vote,’’ he said.
‘‘After a while you think there can always be a little bit of movement here or there... and then on polling day for it to have actually been the exact opposite is quite humbling.’’
Mr Drum said he was extremely appreciative of the Australian public for giving the Coalition a second term in government.
‘‘We’ve made a few mistakes as a Coalition, individually and collectively,’’ he said.
Mr Drum said the public had looked past the ‘‘personal issues’’ and seen the Coalition’s successful efforts with unemployment rates, national economic stability and climate change initiatives, to name a few.
‘‘We’re looking after the Paris Agreement for climate change, but we’re not going to the extremes, so we are being really responsible in all these areas,’’ he said.
Mr Drum said his government helped those who could not help themselves.
‘‘My belief is one of we need to help those in society who can’t help themselves — the infirm, the elderly and those with disabilities,’’ he said.
‘‘We need to be there to help them, then we need to get out of the road of everyone else and let them live their lives and I believe that so strongly.’’
Mr Drum said the public had made a choice against increased taxes on all aspects of their lives.
“The people of Australia had this real choice and that is for a minimalist government where we just look after the economy and we look after health, education, roads and infrastructure and then we get out of the road, rather than for Labor who were saying no, we’re going to tax everybody, we want to play a bigger role in your life, we’re gonna be right stuck in your life all the way through,’’ he said.
‘‘I think Australians have just said no, we don’t want that, we don’t want that style of government with their hands in our pockets all the time.’’
When asked of his priorities for the next three years, Mr Drum said the issue of water policy was ‘‘sticking out like a sore thumb’’.
“Our community needs me to be arguing as hard as I possibly can to help out with water policy,’’ he said.
‘‘Ninety per cent of water policy that impacts our farmers is driven by the state government and we need to put pressure on them to become more engaged with the debates.
‘‘A couple of good rainfalls last week and the week before are fantastic, but they’re not going to stop a drought.
‘‘We’re still in a dire situation and while the countryside is likely to green up, we still need so much more rain.’’
Mr Drum was also delighted to maintain all 16 lower house seats, disregarding early concerns in Victoria’s Mallee electorate and the seat of Cowper in Queensland.
Confidently retaining all seats, Mr Drum said he did not believe changes would take place to the leadership structure of the party.
Mr Drum said he was quite interested in the success of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, taking out third position in Nicholls, expecting Labor and independent Andrew Bock to poll higher.
He also said he believed the United Australia Party would be quite disappointed in their Nicholls result, considering the amount of money spent on the party’s advertising campaign.
‘‘Like or loath Pauline Hanson, the fact that she says what she thinks resonates with so many people,’’ he said.
‘‘She can talk with the freedom of not caring if she insults people or genuinely hurts people whereas others, certainly people in my position don’t necessarily have that freedom.
‘‘I’m not just the representative for just National party voters, I’m the representative for everybody now, so you have to work for everybody.’’
Looking forward to supporting the region further, Mr Drum said he was committed to his cause for another three years.
‘‘I’m up for it and I’m really incredibly grateful that Australians have given us a chance to keep working for them, it’s a great honour,’’ he said.