Australian federal election 2016: Jamie Briggs set to lose Mayo to Rebekha Sharkie

Mayo candidate for the Nick Xenophon Team Rebekha Sharkie (centre) with Nick Xenophon and Fleurieu Peninsula residents Gloria Hicks, Julie Michelmore and Kirsty Gladwin, at a function in early June.
Mayo candidate for the Nick Xenophon Team Rebekha Sharkie (centre) with Nick Xenophon and Fleurieu Peninsula residents Gloria Hicks, Julie Michelmore and Kirsty Gladwin, at a function in early June.

Rebekha Sharkie has become the first member of the Nick Xenophon Team to take a seat in the lower house, taking Mayo from the one-time Liberal Party minister Jamie Briggs.

Mr Briggs resigned from his ministry in December after a late night incident in a Hong Kong bar involving a public servant travelling in the same group.

The race was particularly bitter as Ms Sharkie is a former staff member for Mr Briggs. The incident clearly resonated with some voters, one of who upbraided Mr Briggs in front of assembled media as he went to vote earlier in the day.

"Certainly, I didn't feel that Jamie and my personal values were aligned. There were things said that were misogynist in nat­ure," Ms Sharkie told The Australian of her time in Mr Briggs' staff. He responded that her claims were baseless and that she was an opportunist.

Mayo, once a safe Liberal seat held by former foreign minister Alexander Downer has been viewed as the most likely lower house seat for the Nick Xenophon Team, not only for the weaknesses in Mr Briggs' campaign, but for the local issues the NXT focussed on.

In a state with high unemployment and a devastated manufacturing sector Mr Xenophon and his candidates have made much of his perceived record of helping secure federal government investment in South Australia.

Ms Sharkie, a former member of the Liberal Party, campaigned under the slogan, "Make Mayo Matter," arguing that only by challenging the dominance of the two major parties in safe seats could regions like south western South Australia secure federal government support.

Ms Sharkie arrived at the Palace Cinemas in downtown Adelaide to wild cheers from Xenophon team supporters.   

She said she still couldn't quite believe the result, but said she did not believe that she would hold the balance of power in a hung parliament. Ms Sharkie said she was keen to begin work particularly on health services for the region.