Nicholls ‘will not be taken for granted’ regardless of outcome: Priestly
The face of Nicholls has changed for good — that’s the view of independent candidate Rob Priestly despite calling his opponent to concede defeat on Sunday.
Mr Priestly’s campaign event was a sea of orange at The Woolshed on Saturday night, and before results were clear volunteers were still jovial and excited after a gruelling months-long campaign.
Mr Priestly set out to break the Nationals stronghold on the seat and make Nicholls marginal.
“A week ago I had the feeling we were a 50/50 chance of pulling this off,” he said.
However on polling day he witnesses the familiar sight of voters making a beeline for Nationals how-to-vote cards, include young people who arrived on electric scooters.
Despite falling short, he’s convinced the seat is changing.
“It is not that far away that this seat is going to be highly contestable,” he said.
“Nicholls is not going to be taken for granted in the near future, I think that's a really good outcome and all of our campaign team and our community can be really proud of that change.”
However he said the vote hadn’t unfolded the way he expected.
“We’re softer in Shepparton than I thought, we’ll still win Shepparton but not in the way that perhaps I thought, and they (Nationals) we're stronger in the outlying booths than I thought,” he said.
He said the campaign’s nasty turn in the last week from the National party shaped votes, but they shifted both ways.
“There’s no doubt it had an impact but it’s not all one way. Some of it drove people towards our campaign and some of it drove away,” he said.
“There's sort of a law of diminishing returns about it. I think it tends to scare older voters and and erodes the future of voters.”
He also revealed he had been receiving the same robocalls and texts as everyone else warning against “the dangers of independents”.
Mr Priestly thanked the hordes of volunteers who were with him at the campaign event on Saturday night.
“A lot of wonderful people have done a huge amount to make this happen so that’s been a humbling experience,” he said.