O'Connor elects Rick Wilson for a third term

Liberal MP Rick Wilson celebrates with family, staff and supporters in Albany after a third-consecutive win in O'Connor. Photo: Supplied.
Liberal MP Rick Wilson celebrates with family, staff and supporters in Albany after a third-consecutive win in O'Connor. Photo: Supplied.

O'Connor voters have elected Liberal incumbent Rick Wilson for a third term, as the Coalition Government scores a shock-victory nationwide.

Polls had consistently shown Bill Shorten's Labor Party on course for victory, but Scott Morrison appears to have led the Coalition back into majority government.

In O'Connor, Mr Wilson won 64 per cent of the two-party preferred vote on a primary vote of 41.83 per cent, with most polling places returned.

Labor's candidate Shelley Payne won 21.84 per cent of primary votes, an 0.92 per cent increase from the 2016 election.

The Nationals' candidate John Hassell suffered a swing against him of 5.78 per cent, finishing with just 12.55 per cent of primary votes.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation finished in fourth place with 8.37 per cent.

One Nation candidate Dean Smith was narrowly ahead of Greens candidate Nelson Blake Gilmour, who's vote dropped by 2.32 points to finish on 8.05.

Esperance backs incumbent over local

The Liberal Party scored the most primary votes at every polling booth in the Shire of Esperance, despite the Labor party pre-selecting Esperance Shire councillor Shelley Payne as their candidate.

At the Esperance Pre-polling Vote Centre, Mr Wilson won 56.12 per cent of primary votes, after enjoying a swing of 2.42 points.

Labor's vote was up 1.99 points to 16.20

At the Esperance Civic Centre, Mrs Payne's share of the vote fell by 0.62 points, finishing on 15.04. Mr Wilson's share of the vote decreased to 49.45 per cent.

Mrs Payne and Mr Wilson also suffered a swing against them at Nulsen Primary School. Labor's vote was 23.64 per cent, while the Liberals won 36.39 per cent.

At Castletown Primary School, the Liberal Party dropped by 5.19 points to 47.89 per. Labor's voted lifted by 1.44 points to 17.20 per cent.

Mr Wilson won 54.65 per cent of votes at Munglinup Primary School, with The Nationals in second place on 17.44 per cent.

Priority to deliver 

Mr Wilson thanked the voters of O'Connor for electing him for a third time and thanked the more than 300 volunteers and helpers who assisted the Liberal Party in the seat on election day.

"It is an enormous honour and privilege to represent O'Connor in Canberra," he said.

Mr Wilson said he was pleased at the strong support he received in Esperance.

"I would have expected that Esperance, being Shelley Payne's hometown, that she may have been able to swing some of the votes to her. But it appears that wasn't the case," he said.

The incumbent gave credit to Prime Minister Scott Morrison for staying focused on the economy and leading the Coalition to victory.

Mr Wilson said projects funded in the lead up to the election would now be delivered.

"There was a chance that the Labor Party could have reversed those budget allocations," he said.

"Projects like the Esperance Jetty, I'm very keen to work with the Esperance Shire to make sure we roll that project out and deliver it."

Mr Wilson said he would also concentrate on ensuring projects such as the State Barrier Fence Esperance extension and a headspace in Esperance were delivered.

He said his Labor opponent's comments after the election had not been gracious, although he said the campaign itself was civil.

"One of the things that I give Bill Shorten credit for, was he was gracious in defeat. I didn't actually see that from Shelley Payne," he said.

"I think she ran a good campaign, probably the first time the Labor Party have actually campaigned with a bit of conviction in the electorate of O'Connor.

"She's perhaps gained a small swing to her, but I think once the postal and absentee votes have been counted, that will come back and it will be pretty much line-ball.

"She thinks that the jetty issue played out for her in Esperance. You only need to look at the Esperance vote, where one would have assumed that she had some sort of local support. But the Esperance vote, if anything, moved slightly to me."

Payne happy to have held ground

Mrs Payne said she was proud to have run a positive campaign and to have been a voice for progressive voters in O'Connor.

The Labor candidate said the election was very disappointing for the party and blamed Queensland mining magnate Clive Palmer's multi-million dollar advertising spend.

"We bore the brunt of Clive Palmer's advertising blitz, which is a shame," she said.

"I think Labor is looking forward now and looking towards the next election."

Mrs Payne said Labor held its ground in O'Connor and improved its share of the vote in Albany and Kalgoorlie, despite a national swing against the party.

Mrs Payne also thanked her volunteers and said she would head back to council and would spend some time with her family.

She would not confirm whether or not she would have another tilt at a higher office.

The Nationals flop in regional WA

Despite holding all of their seats, The Nationals failed to win a single seat in WA in either house of parliament.

Along with their poor showing in O'Connor, the party only won 10.47 per cent in Durack and a mere 1.36 per cent in Pearce.

The Nationals have not won a federal seat in WA since 2010.

O'Connor candidate John Hassell said he was personally disappointed at his showing in O'Connor, but was pleased the Coalition was reelected.

Mr Hassell said the result was positive for live exports, superannuation and the economy.

"We probably needed to come out with a fairly loud and strong policy platform," he said.

"I don't think people realise just how badly we're being done by.

"Unfortunately for O'Connor, we're just going to keep getting more of the same and that is because it is a very reliable seat for the Coalition. They'll just keep ignoring us."

Mr Hassell said he believes The Nationals have a federal future in WA, but would need to rethink their approach.

After two consecutive failed attempts at the seat, Mr Hassell said he felt "a bit bruised" and was not sure if he would attempt another stab at politics.