From myself and the Lindsay Dan, President of the Nicholls National Party, thank you to the many volunteers for their immense efforts during the campaign. Thank you also to my fantastic family and team for their support. #ImProud #PuttingLocalsFirst #Election2019 #NichollsVotes pic.twitter.com/M5v2wJiECU— Damian Drum (@damiandrummp) May 18, 2019
Election experts have called the seat of Nicholls for the Nationals, with Damian Drum to be re-elected for a second term.
Drum has secured 50 per cent of the first preference vote, with 72 of 78 polling places returned.
On a two-party preferred basis, Drum has 69.18 per cent of the vote compared to Labor's Bill Lodwick on 30.82 per cent.
Damian Drum has 69.35 per cent of the two-party preferred vote, with 32.47 per cent of votes counted.
With 55 of 78 polling places having returned first preference counts, Damian Drum has 52 per cent of the primary vote.
On two-party preferred, with 43 of 78 polling places returned, Drum has 68.81 per cent of the vote and Labor's Bill Lodwick has 31.19 per cent.
Damian Drum has 54 per cent of first preference votes, with 40 of 78 polling places having returned first preference counts.
Currently, on a two-party preferred basis, the AEC has projected Mr Drum to receive 69 per cent of the vote and Labor's Bill Lodwick 31 per cent.
One Nation's Rikkie-Lee Tyrrell has 12 per cent of first preference votes.
Early on in the count of votes in the electorate of Nicholls, incumbent member Damian Drum has 54 per cent of first preference votes.
Twenty of 78 polling places have so far returned counts on first preferences, the Australian Electoral Commission is reporting.
One Nation's Rikkie-Lee Tyrrell has 14 per cent of first preference votes to date while Labor's Bill Lodwick has also secured 14 per cent of first preferences.
Nicholls is the new name for the Murray electorate.
This year's redistribution has also seen the electorate lose Euroa and Violet Town to Indi, Loddon Shire to Mallee, with the boundary creeping south to gain Seymour and Broadford from McEwen.
This has shrunk the electorate from 19,500 to 14,768 square kilometres, with the National Party's two-party preferred margin slipping from 24.9 per cent to an estimated 22.5 per cent.
The new name honours Sir Douglas Ralph Nicholls (1906-1988), a footballer, activist, pastor, Governor of South Australia and significant Aboriginal rights and welfare activist.
As Murray, the electorate was created at the 1949 election as part of the expansion of the House of Representatives.
It has been held by a series of conservative leaders, beginning with former Country Party Leader Sir John McEwen (1949-71) and former Deputy-Leader Bruce Lloyd (1971-96).
During his tenure, McEwen served as Prime Minister for three weeks at the end of 1967 following the disappearance of Harold Holt.
After Lloyd retired at the 1996 election, pre-selection drama within the National Party saw the party lose to Liberal candidate Sharman Stone.
She held the seat comfortably until retiring in 2016, when the seat became a Coalition battleground, with Nationals candidate Damian Drum and Liberal hopeful Duncan McGauchie going head-to-head.
Election day saw Drum steal the seat from the Liberals with a slim two-candidate preferred buffer of 11 per cent.
But the next best after the Coalition candidates was Labor’s Allan Williams who polled almost 15 per cent.
And with no Liberal rival this year, Drum will be essentially untouchable.