By Jessica Anstice
Liberal Jason Wood defied the bookies, polls and pundits to hold the seat of La Trobe in Saturday’s election, one of the state’s most marginal.
Before the election TAB Sportsbet framed a market on La Trobe, with Labor’s Simon Curtis a red hot $1.45 favourite and Mr Wood $2.50.
After a long and hard fought campaign Mr Wood edged comfortably ahead of Mr Curtis, even increasing his margin slightly.
This is the fifth election win for Mr Wood – following wins in 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2016.
Mr Wood said he is feeling “honoured” to represent the local community in parliament.
“I’d like to thank the voters for putting their trust in me again. It’s a big thing to represent them in parliament. It gives me great pride,” he said.
“I acknowledge and give my best wishes to Simon. I’ve been there before where I’ve lost a seat after giving my heart and soul.
“I’m wishing him and his family all the best.”
During Mr Wood’s election campaign, his biggest promises included major funding announcements of $300m for roads-sealing projects in the South East, $15m for up to 500 new car parking spaces at Officer Railway Station, $1m for facility upgrades at the Berwick Cricket Club, and $500,000 for facility upgrades at Upper Beaconsfield Cricket Club and Scouts facility.
“The thing I’m rapt about is that nearly every single change room in the area, in every single sporting club, will be getting upgraded changing rooms. It’s all about keeping children and families active in sport,” he said.
“My job now is to make sure we get on with these projects straight away.
“At the same time, we have to stop that “us and them” political stoush between the State Government and Federal Government because it hasn’t helped the people at all.”
La Trobe has been won by the Coalition in 10 of the 11 elections held since 1990, the only exception being when Labor’s Laura Smyth defeated him in the 2010 election.
La Trobe’s boundary changed before this election to take in Pakenham and as far east as Nar Nar Goon.
Mr Wood won 15 booths including Nar Nar Goon, Nar Nar Goon North, Pakenham Upper, Toomuc Valley, Gembrook, Emerald, Clematis, Narre Warren North, Harkaway, Upper Beaconsfield, Berwick, Berwick Lodge, Berwick Chase and Officer.
Mr Curtis won the other 12, including Pakenham, Pakenham Central, Pakenham Springs, Pakenham North, Pakenham Lakeside, Pakenham Shearwater, Berwick South, Berwick Fields, Narre Warren, Timbarra and Oatlands.
Simon Curtis has been contacted for comment but has not responded yet.