Federal election 2019: Barker results, analysis, Liberals' Tony Pasin re-elected

Photo: Facebook/Tony Pasin MP.
Photo: Facebook/Tony Pasin MP.

Not only will Liberal MP Tony Pasin return to Canberra to serve a third term as the Murraylands and Mallee's representative in federal parliament - he will do so as part of a continuing Coalition government after Prime Minister Scott Morrison led his party to a surprising election victory on Saturday.

The swing towards the Liberal Party in Barker appears to have been one of the strongest in the nation, pending the counting of pre-poll votes.

Mr Pasin's share of first-preference votes increased from 47 to 58 per cent, the party's best result in the electorate since 1996.

However, the real story was a collapse of support for the Centre Alliance.

The party, which attracted almost one in three voters when it contested the last federal election as the Nick Xenophon Team, gained less than 3pc of votes this time around - fewer than Labor, the Greens and United Australia, and barely ahead of the Nationals and Animal Justice Party.

As a result, Labor candidate Mat O'Brien became the Liberals' main challenger.

Despite increasing his party's vote share to its highest level in three elections, he fell short 64-36 on a two-party preferred basis, according to the Australian Electoral Commission.

Mr Pasin said it was "a privilege and an honour" to be returned to office.

Mr O'Brien thanked his volunteers, supporters and everyone who had voted Labor for the first time.

"We are hurting today, but we can never just walk away, not while the vested interests ... are running the country for themselves and their mates," he said in a Facebook post.

"I'll always be proud to be Labor and always stand up for good, honest working class people.

"We'll be back."

Centre Alliance candidate Kelly Gladigau was also thankful for the messages of encouragement and support she had received, her volunteers and the "privilege" of people's votes.

Liberal MP Tony Pasin casts his vote in Mount Gambier. Photo: Supplied.

Liberal MP Tony Pasin casts his vote in Mount Gambier. Photo: Supplied.

8.50pm Saturday

Not only has Liberal MP Tony Pasin been returned as the member for Barker, it looks increasingly likely that he will head back to Canberra as part of a returned Coalition government.

The Australian Electoral Commission is not yet close to predicting a result, but commentators with the nation's major news organisations - including Nine, owners of The Standard, and Nine newspaper The Age - have the Coalition bound for victory.

Locally, the Liberal party has secured a very comfortable 57 per cent of first-preference votes, with Labor second on 21.5pc.

The Cente Alliance's vote has crashed catastrophically, down by 26.1pc in Barker.

All Murraylands booths except Murray Bridge High School and Coomandook have sent in their results.

In posts on Facebook, Mr Pasin has thanked the members of his family for their support, and the party's volunteers for their hard work.

In the Senate, it is very early days yet, but it looks as though the Liberals will get two or three of the six available seats in SA and Labor will get two.

That will conclude this evening's coverage from Murray Bridge - stay tuned to our national live blog for more.

7.25pm Saturday

With about 17 per cent of the vote counted, two early results appear likely: Liberal MP Tony Pasin is unlikely to be cleaning out his office on Monday; and the Centre Alliance has reverted to being a non-factor in this area after featuring prominently in the last federal and state elections.

At this stage, still fairly early, Mr Pasin is streets ahead, with 60.7 per cent of first preference results.

If that figure came close to holding up at the end of the night, not only would it represent a strong swing to the incumbent MP, it would be the Liberals' strongest result in Barker since 1996, when John Howard swept to power at the expense of Paul Keating.

Meanwhile, Centre Alliance candidate Kelly Gladigau has fallen right back through the pack relative to former Nick Xenophon Team candidate James Stacey, who ran last time around.

In fact, she is ahead of only Animal Justice candidate Karen Eckermann, with the Nationals' Miles Hannemann, United Australia's Bert Bacher, Greens' Rosa Hillam and Labor's Mat O'Brien all figuring more prominently.

Mr O'Brien appears to be Mr Pasin's main challenger at this stage, if that term can apply to a candidate with less than 20pc of the vote.

As a result, the two-party preferred calculation on the AEC website is off - it was based on an assumption that Ms Gladigau would finish second.

7pm Saturday

Voting has now closed and ballot papers are being counted around Barker and the nation.

The first batch of results in from the Australian Electoral Commission don't mean much - only 7800 of 118,00 votes have been counted.

For what it's worth, though, they show Liberal MP Tony Pasin racing ahead out of the blocks, with more than 60pc of votes, and Labor's Mat O'Brien his nearest challenger.

At this stage the AEC does not appear to be publishing a breakdown of votes cast at each polling place - drop me a line at peri.strathearn@fairfaxmedia.com.au if you know otherwise.

Photo: File.

Photo: File.

Saturday morning

Will Liberal MP Tony Pasin win a third term as the Murraylands and Mallee's representative in Canberra, or will Barker fall to a non-Liberal party for the first time in 116 years?

Will our federal MP return to a Coalition government, or shuffle off to the opposition benches?

The advertising blitz is over, the campaigning is done, and tonight The Murray Valley Standard will bring you selected election results as they roll in.

Or two thirds of the election results, anyway, since early voting seems to have been even more popular than the flu over the past few weeks.

If you're still undecided, you can read about each of the seven candidates for Barker's visions for the next three years here.

There are local Senate candidates to keep an eye on too, including the Greens' Major Sumner and Great Australia Party's Peter Manuel.