“I was involved in 2013 and 2016 with Cathy McGowan’s campaign … I’ve been a part, really from the beginning, of this desire to participate in our democracy in a way that is meaningful and bring about a real change in Indi.”
Hundreds of locals volunteered with the highly-organised grassroots campaign, Voices for Indi, to fend off the Liberals’ Steve Martin, who thought he could snatch back the seat for his party.
With more than 75 per cent of votes counted on Sunday, Ms Haines was leading 51.6-48.4 on a two-party preferred basis.
Katie Allen [Liberal] – Higgins, 3.5% margin
With prominent Liberal frontbencher Kelly O’Dwyer vacating her seat, Higgins was contested in a three-way tussle between the Liberals’ Katie Allen, Labor’s Fiona McLeod and Greens’ Jason Ball.
Despite the massive swings against the Coalition, and a margin reduced to 3.5 per cent on a two-party preferred, Ms Allen emerged victorious on Saturday night.
“I had commentators even six weeks ago saying ‘the swing is against you’ and I said ‘you know it doesn’t feel like that out there’ … I was getting such an enthusiastic response,” Ms Allen said.
“We had a very fair fight … we didn’t play dirty tricks and I think that’s a good thing for politics.”
The former pediatrician responded to the Liberal Party’s call to snatch Prahran from the Greens at the 2018 Victorian state election.
She lost that contest, but when Ms O’Dwyer retired she put her hat in the ring and won the preselection contest among a field of eight.
Josh Burns [Labor] – Macnamara, 9.7% margin
Josh Burns emerged from one of the nation’s purest three-cornered contests with a whopping 8.5 per cent swing towards him, bucking the national trend and dashing the Greens’ hopes of picking up their second lower house seat.
Mr Burns – former staffer to outgoing MP Michael Danby as well as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews – took votes largely off Liberal Party candidate Kate Ashmor, whose campaign was beset by controversy.
The seat, undergoing gentrification, was heavily-targeted by the Greens, who were unable to make any serious inroads.
“It’s a bit surreal. I’m extremely proud of my team,” said Mr Burns.
Lessons from the election needed to be learnt, according to Mr Burns, and Labor must “be humble and gracious in defeat and look to the future.”
“We have a lot of work to do. I’ll be a voice for people who need Labor.”
Anne Webster [Nationals] – Mallee, 16.8% margin
Anne Webster suffered a 3 per cent swing against her in the regional Victorian seat of Mallee, but retained the seat for the Nationals, becoming the first female to represent the electorate.
The new MP will fill the shoes of disgraced former member Andrew Broad, who resigned over the “sugar daddy” sex scandal in December last year.
Ms Webster says the matter plagued the early part of her campaign.
“I think we clearly started the race behind, so there was a challenge there and [the scandal] was mentioned by people across the electorate. We pressed forward and presented a new face – it’s the first time we’ve had a woman in the Mallee which is exciting.
Ms Webster said her focus would be on delivering promises like the new Swan Hill hospital after a gruelling campaign.
“We worked very hard for five months … I’ve had three days off in four months.”
Sumeyya is a reporter for The Age.
Paul is a reporter for The Age.