COUNTING continued in Eden-Monaro yesterday and may continue for the next fortnight, with the race between incumbent Labor member Mike Kelly and Liberal Party challenger Peter Hendy too close to call.
By 4pm yesterday Mr Hendy, a former advisor to Julie Bishop and Peter Reith, was ahead of Dr Kelly 38,406 to 37,837 – just 569 votes.
Mr Hendy said he was “hopeful”, but refused to speculate any further on the result.
“I’m hopeful, but it’s too close to call at this stage,” he said.
“Whatever the result this week, I think we ran a good campaign in Eden-Monaro,” he said.
“The swing to us was 4.7 per cent in Eden-Monaro and that’s above the national swing to the Liberals so I’m very proud of that.
“I’m not going to give a running commentary on the count so I really don’t want to say anymore until the result is finalised.”
Dr Kelly was unable to speak to the BDN yesterday as he was in the counting room with ALP scrutineers.
A spokesperson for Dr Kelly said it was going to be tough, but still too close to call, adding, "We will just wait patiently for the count, and expect a result later in the week.”
In the 2010 election, pre-poll votes swung heavily in Dr Kelly’s favour and his team is hoping the trend is repeated.
In 2010 he won more than 60 per cent of the pre-poll vote in his race against the Liberals’ David Gazard.
However, Mr Hendy has previously expressed confidence that the pre-poll and postal vote count will break in his favour.
Dr Kelly has picked up preferences from the Greens’ Catherine Moore, while Mr Hendy was preferenced by the Palmer United Party candidate Dean Lynch.
Ms Moore hoped Dr Kelly pulled ahead, but said the swing against Labor was “unsurprising”.
“I’m hoping for Eden-Monaro’s sake Dr Kelly stays as the local member,” she said.
“I’m sad about the result in general, and I’m very concerned about what lies ahead, not only for this electorate but for the nation under a Coalition government.”
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) said final results from the pre-poll and postal vote count won’t be confirmed until 13 days after election day, meaning a winner may not be declared until September 20.