By PETER DOUGLAS
WHILE it may feel like an eternity since polling day, the race for La Trobe 2016 has been run and won.
Labor candidate Simon Curtis officially conceded on Monday, 18 July, and congratulated incumbent MP Jason Wood on his victory, as well as all candidates who ran in the 2016 federal election.
Although not gaining La Trobe, Mr Curtis has made significant inroads into the seat and turned La Trobe into a truly marginal electorate.
On a two-candidate basis, Mr Curtis gained a swing of 2.51 per cent for Labor on the previous election and picked up 48.50 per cent of the vote.
Mr Curtis said he was proud of all who helped his campaign and was pleased by what they had achieved.
Post-election, he has begun teaching again in a part-time capacity with his previous employer, Beaconhills College in Pakenham, with a view to returning there full-time next year.
However, he said his political journey was not over.
“I’m enjoying teaching again at the moment, I’ve always loved that,” he said.
“But I will continue to be active in the political space, as you would expect.
“It’s disappointing not to win, but we can certainly be proud of our efforts.
“This was a campaign run by local people, for local people.”
Mr Curtis said he would be closely monitoring the Turnbull Government and Mr Wood, with the latter making numerous tourism-related election promises.
“They’ve certainly made a lot of promises and we’ll be looking closely at that,” he said.
“We’ll be also watching with great interest about the changes to the medical system – certainly the writing is on the wall – whether you call it privatisation or a death by 1000 cuts.”
Mr Curtis said he’d also observe the progress of the proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, on his Facebook page, Mr Wood thanked his rival.
“Thankyou to Simon Curtis, the ALP candidate who rang today to congratulate me,” he said.
“I personally wish him the best in his future as an educator, and I thank him for running what was a decent campaign.”
Although La Trobe continues its long run of Liberal victories, the minor parties enjoyed a strong showing in 2016, with most making up ground on their 2013 showing.
Perhaps the surprise packet came from Julieanne Lynette Doidge of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, who gained 3896 votes, or 4.23 per cent of the first preference count.
Leah Folloni from the Animal Justice Party also made a significant impact for the minors, gaining 2650 votes, or 2.88 per cent of the first preference count.
Jeffrey Bartram from the Family First Party also fared well, gaining 2.45 per cent.
Martin Leahy of the Sex Party picked up 2.26 per cent, which was a 0.53 per cent increase on the party’s previous performance.
Ms Folloni said she had expected the minor parties to do well.
“I’m not surprised by how well we did, we feel like there are many who are disillusioned with the major parties,” she said.
“With Derryn Hinch being such a celebrity, he did pretty well, too.”
Ms Folloni said her 2016 showing gave her confidence moving forward.
“Firstly, we’re just waiting to see the ban on cosmetic testing go through the Senate,” she said.
“We just want to continue to bring about positive changes for animals.
“I’ll also be running for the Victorian election (in 2018), then the next federal election.”
First preference count for the division of La Trobe:
* Liberal; Jason Wood: 42.31 per cent
* Labor; Simon Curtis: 31.36 per cent
* Greens; Tom Cummings: 10.53 per cent
* Animal Justice Party; Leah Folloni: 2.88 per cent
* Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party; Julieanne Lynette Doidge: 4.23 per cent
* Liberal Democrats; Leslie Hughes: 1.28 per cent
* Rise Up Australia Party; Margeret Quinn: 1.27 per cent
* Shooters, Fishers and Farmers; David Fent: 1.42 per cent
* Australian Sex Party; Martin Leahy: 2.26 per cent
* Family First Party; Jeffrey Bartram: 2.45 per cent