With polling booths throughout the Upper Hunter 'wrapped' by The Nationals on the evening before the election it was clear the party had the resources and the manpower to retain this seat.
Every fence at every major polling booth was covered with metre high election material targeted for that specific centre either pro mining or pro farming depending on its location in the seat.
And after holding Upper Hunter for more than 90 years the party held on, despite the previous member Michael Johnsen, having to resign following an alleged rape, which he strenuously denies, and alleged sexting during a parliamentary session.
Counting continues but on first preferences to date the Nationals Dave Layzell has 30.42 per cent and Labor's Jeff Drayton 20.76. This is a swing against Labor of 8 per cent based on 2019 state election results which is causing heartache amongst the party faithful.
Although The Nationals can claim the win there was still a nearly 4 per cent swing against them in the by-election. The Nationals were assisted by the Coalition's success during the pandemic and their ability to commit funds to various local projects like the Singleton bypass interchange and Resources for Regions program which was given a $25 million boost for the next funding round.
Based on first preferences nearly half the electorate did not vote for the two major parties.
Damaging for Labor was the rise of One Nation with well known Singleton businessman Dale McNamara standing as their candidate and promising to not only protect mining jobs but build a clean coal-fired power station they called Bayswater 2 . This messaging was popular in the mining centres with Mr McNamara attaining 12 per cent of the vote.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, who in 2019 gained 28 per cent first preferences, where perhaps swamped by One Nation when it came to the protecting mining jobs mantra with Singleton's Sue Gilroy gaining 11.65 per cent.
Progressive voters, both National and Labor, were able to vote for Independent Kirsty O'Connell from Aberdeen who did not want to see mining shutdown overnight but rather 'paused' while a plan was developed to make the inevitable transition to a more diverse and renewable energy driven economy.
Mrs O'Connell was backed by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and she gained 8.6 per cent first preferences.
In the field of 13 the only other candidates to achieve more than 3 per cent in first preferences were former Dungog Mayor and Independent Tracy Norman 4 per cent and The Greens Sue Abbott 3.3 per cent.
Singleton can now look forward to a new $12m police station.
"The current police station in Singleton has been serving the community since 1867 and the heritage listed building is home to around 50 staff," Deputy Premier John Barilaro said during the campaign.
"As a state government we will work with the local community, with council and our police to make sure we don't just have a station for today but for our future."
The government also committed to a Royalties for Rejuvenation fund, which will see $25 million worth of coal royalties go back into mining-impacted towns annually.
A statutory expert panel made up of community leaders would advise on how to best maximize using the mining royalties locally.
Mr Barilaro said the group would be independent from government and design the terms of reference, policy, direction and guidelines for investments.
"In the coming months we will be reaching out to Unions, Joint Organisations of Councils, Industry Peak Bodies and Community Advocacy Groups that are prepared to join the government in its vision of the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund," he said.
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