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Hunter sees red in state election

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Every last Hunter MP retained their seat in the 2019 NSW state election.

There were no major upsets across the region, save for a close tussle between Upper Hunter incumbent Michael Johnsen (Nationals) and his Labor rival, Melanie Dagg.

While most Hunter seats were called with confidence by early Saturday evening, Upper Hunter was too close to call until Ms Dagg conceded defeat late in the peace.

As at Tuesday, when Newcastle Weekly went to print, 80.4% of the vote had been counted and Mr Johnsen had received 52.1% of first-preference votes, while Ms Dagg trailed behind on 47.9%.

The Nationals have held the seat since 1981 and suffered only a 0.01% swing against the party in this election.

Elsewhere in the region, voters backed Labor party candidates as they traditionally have done, except in Lake Macquarie, where Independent Greg Piper was elected for a fourth term.

He claimed an undeniable 72.6% of first-preference votes (79.3% of the vote counted as at Tuesday), leaving his Labor competitor Jo Smith for dust on 27.4%.

Mr Piper had previously held the seat with a margin of 10.7%, which increased to 11.9% at the weekend.

In Labor footholds Newcastle and Wallsend, Tim Crakanthorp (voted in at the 2014 by-election) and Sonia Hornery (sitting MP since 2007) enjoyed a 10.1% and 4.6% swing to their party, respectively, while Port Stephens incumbent Kate Washington’s margin increased by 2.0%, re-elected for a second term.

In Swansea, Labor’s Yasmin Catley was also elected for a second term, after winning the seat in 2015 from Independent candidate Garry Edwards, who had previously been a Liberal party member but resigned during the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings.

Ms Catley had secured 60.1% of the first-preference vote by Tuesday, well ahead of major competitor Dean Bowman (Liberal) on 39.9%, although there was a -2.9% swing against the Labor party in this electorate.

Charlestown, Maitland and Cessnock all took small hits against Labor – being 1%, 0.8% and 3.6%, respectively.

Former Lake Macquarie mayor Jodie Harrison, who first won the seat of Charlestown in 2014, claimed victory once more with 61.9% of the vote, up against Liberal candidate Jenny Barrie on 38.1% (79% counted).

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison was elected for her second term with 63% of the vote compared to 37% for Liberal candidate and Maitland councillor Sally Halliday (81.9% counted).

With 60.9% of the Cessnock vote counted, Clayton Barr celebrated his third victory in the Lower Hunter seat with 68.4% of first-preference votes, and Nationals representative Josh Angus trailing on 31.6%.

On a state level, Gladys Berejiklian was re-elected as NSW premier, becoming the first bona fide female premier.

The Liberal-National Coalition looks set to form a majority government.

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