Wilson wins O’Connor seat for the third time

Toby Hussey and Liam CroyAlbany Advertiser
Rick Wilson casts his vote at Mt Lockyer Primary School.
Camera IconRick Wilson casts his vote at Mt Lockyer Primary School. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Rick Wilson will remain the Federal Member for O’Connor after receiving a comfortable majority in last weekend’s election as the Coalition swept to a stunning victory.

Mr Wilson, who has represented O’Connor since 2013, had received 64 per cent of the two-party preferred vote as of yesterday with more than three-quarters of votes counted.

He had 41.8 per cent of the primary vote, with the Australian Labor Party’s Shelley Payne in second on 21.8 per cent and The Nationals’ candidate John Hassell third on 12.6 per cent.

“I think people judge their local member on how much they’ve committed and worked for them,” he said.

“I think that the people of O’Connor do respect hard work, they want reward for their effort, they want lower taxes.”

Mr Wilson picked up a majority of two-party preferred votes at every Great Southern polling station.

Rick Wilson celebrating with supporters on Saturday night.
Camera IconRick Wilson celebrating with supporters on Saturday night.

In towns including Kojonup there was no question about who was favourite, where Mr Wilson picked up 83 per cent of the vote.

In King River he won 75 per cent of the vote, and in Albany, his Middleton Beach community gave him the strongest support in the city — with 69 per cent of voters backing him.

Mr Wilson’s win came on a day when Australian voters ultimately rejected Labor’s vision for Australia, and nearly nine months after the Liberal Party dumped Malcolm Turnbull for Scott Morrison as party leader.

While his opponents had pushed warnings of instability within the Coalition’s ranks, Mr Wilson said he did not believe it had affected his vote.

That prediction proved true at home and nationally, with the party set to claim majority government with at least 76 seats.

Mr Wilson was one of 43 MPs who signed a spill motion to remove Malcolm Turnbull as leader in 2018.

He said that decision had been “vindicated 150 per cent”.

“It was actually not ideological (the reason) that the 43 that signed that spill motion — it was actually about his repeated poor performance in campaigns,” he said.

“We started the campaign in 2016 three points ahead and we fell over the line by one seat.

“We started the Super Saturday by-elections in front in two seats that we absolutely should have won and we ended up getting thrashed.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison led his party to a shock victory.
Camera IconPrime Minister Scott Morrison led his party to a shock victory. Credit: Getty Images

Mr Wilson gave full credit to Prime Minister Scott Morrison for arguing the Coalition’s case while pointing out Bill Shorten’s flaws.

He said “words can’t describe” Mr Morrison’s performance during the campaign.

Mr Wilson’s run to victory was boosted in recent weeks with a pledge by the Prime Minister to fund the completion of the Albany Ring Road over the next several years, a pledge Labor later matched.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, Mr Wilson pushed his achievement of lobbying for 78 mobile phone towers to be built in the region to reduce mobile reception “black spots” as his key success while representing O’Connor.

The two party preferred vote is on track to match the 2016 result for the seat.

Further down the results, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidate Dean Smith picked up eight per cent of the vote, with The Greens candidate Nelson Blake Gilmour close behind.

Australian Christians, United Australia Party, Western Australia Party and The Great Australian Party picked up seven per cent of the total vote combined.

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