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Birrell set to claim Nicholls despite swing against Nationals

Heading north: Sam Birrell and Archie Reid in Echuca. Mr Birrell will likely be heading to Canberra to represent the region after overcoming independent Rob Priestly in a tight contest. Photo by Steve Huntley

Postal votes are still to be counted but Sam Birrell is in the box seat to claim the seat of Nicholls despite a more than 20 per cent swing against the Nationals.

A handful of votes, and postal votes, are still to be counted, but with a more than 7000 vote margin on two party preferred ballots Mr Birrell is set to go to Canberra to succeed Damian Drum as MP.

Mr Birrell is yet to claim the win.

Mr Birrell secured 27.3 per cent of the primary vote, ahead of independent Rob Priestly with 25.8 per cent and Liberal Steve Brooks with nearly 18 per cent.

However, the traditionally seat swing nearly 24 per cent away from the Nationals.

Labor’s Bill Lodwick picked up 11 per cent of the primary vote, with One Nation’s Rikkie-Lee Tyrrell the next best with 6.4 per cent and Rob Peterson of the United Australia Party recording 4.1 per cent.

While Mr Priestly won Shepparton and performed strongly at some smaller booths in the region such as Toolamba, his margins weren’t enough to make up for losses to Mr Birrell in Echuca, Kyabram and Seymour and Mr Brooks in Cobram.

Nation-wide, the Liberal vote collapsed in several key areas including Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, leading Anthony Albanese to claim victory late on Saturday night.

The Coalition will not have enough seats to form majority, but it remains to be seen if Labor will have enough seats to govern outright or if they will need to negotiate with a large crossbench in a minority government.