Domination by the Liberal Party in the Hawkesbury and steady gains in key Lower Mountains booths saw sitting Macquarie MP Louise Markus returned to power on Saturday night.
Unlike the 2010 election cliffhanger when it took the Australian Electoral Commission days before it could confirm Mrs Markus’ victory by a slim 1.3 per cent margin, her Labor opponent Susan Templeman conceded defeat just before 9pm on Saturday at Spring-wood’s Oriental Hotel.
But the Winmalee resident could take pride in Labor’s continued strong performance in the Mid and Upper Mountains, winning almost every booth plus outpolling the Liberals in Springwood, Warrimoo, Faulconbridge and Blaxland.
Ms Templeman said she would like to have another go at winning the seat in 2016, should her family agree and Labor branch members pre-select her.
With 81.93 per cent of the total vote counted by Tuesday morning, Mrs Markus received 36,856 first preference votes (up 2.91 per cent), Ms Templeman secured 24,333 votes (down 1.08 per cent) and The Greens (Danielle Wheeler) won 8515 votes (down 3.14 per cent).
In their first go in the Macquarie contest, the Palmer United Party (Philip Maxwell) came in fourth with 3251 votes (4.18 per cent).
On a two-party preferred basis, the Liberal Party enjoyed an election-winning swing towards it of 3.2 per cent and an unbeatable 54.46 per cent of votes to Labor’s 45.54 per cent.
By 10pm at her election night function at the Richmond Club, Mrs Markus was celebrating with two cakes — one to mark her 50th birthday the day before and another one in Liberal blue to mark the party’s local and national wins.
Her victory speech in front of about 150 supporters was the icing on both cakes, generating a wave of applause.
“Australia has made a choice today and in this seat of Macquarie, the electors have decided to again place this seat and their future in safe Liberal hands,” Mrs Markus said.
“What that means is that small business owners that have been struggling can now look to the future and start investing back into their businesses, growing their businesses and employing more people.
“We will be working every day — between now and when we get an opportunity — to get rid of the carbon tax because it will relieve the cost of living pressures not just for families but particularly for businesses.
“We’ve got a lot to do, we’ve got to sort out the budget and start paying off the debt, but most of all just lift the burdens off Australians.
“We’ve got a great nation and our greatest asset are our people.”
Mrs Markus also said it was important to ensure the office of prime minister was respected and paid tribute to her party’s leader, describing Tony Abbott as a “phenomenal individual” whose “greatest strength is to build a team”.
“We have 16 shadow ministers that will now have the opportunity to be ministers, people who have been in government [before].
“So we’ve got a strong, stable, unified government — the best we could have,” Mrs Markus said.
The Macquarie result put the polarised nature of the electorate in clear view: a Liberal stronghold in the Hawkesbury but a Labor majority in the Blue Mountains.
Labor won booths in Mount Victoria, Blackheath, Medlow Bath, Katoomba, Leura, Wentworth Falls, Hazelbrook, Lawson, Woodford, Faulconbridge, Warrimoo, Blaxland and Springwood — but it failed to win a single booth in the Hawkesbury on primary vote (it won the small St Albans booth after preferences by one vote). In most of the Hawkesbury booths Labor secured less than 35 per cent of the vote.
The Liberal Party added Valley Heights and Lapstone to its previous Lower Mountains tally of Glenbrook, East Blaxland, Mount Riverview and Winmalee.