Counting is continuing in the federal election with another 630 votes tallied in the New England electorate yesterday from the preliminary first figures.
Barnaby Joyce, already over the line and pronounced the winner in the federal seat, yesterday improved his result, taking just over 50 per cent of the updated vote count.
Mr Joyce is on 54.11 per cent on primary votes with some 86,651 ballot papers counted.
Country Labor candidate Stephen Hewitt’s count also improved by about 100 votes and the other candidates marginally.
It is likely that postal, absentee and other pre-poll votes will be added to the count over the next day or so to get final figures.
The electoral commission has reported that on a two candidate preferred result, the 46-year-old father of four daughters and former Queensland senator had taken 71.19 per cent of the vote.
Mr Joyce polled 54.11per cent of the vote on Saturday, enough primaries to get him across the line without going to preferences, but about 10 per centage points below what his predecessor Tony Windsor, the retired former independent member, had achieved on primaries in 2010.
Armidale businessman Rob Taber, an independent who only entered the campaign a month ago, is polling 14.24 per cent of the vote with the Country Labor candidate Stephen Hewitt polling just under 12 per cent.
Yesterday Mr Joyce continued the round of media interviews in the wake of his big victory. He continued to rebuff criticism and conjecture over his friendship with mining magnate Gina Rinehart.
The richest woman in Australian jetted in to join Mr Joyce at the celebrations after polls closed on Saturday and the two admitted to sharing a friendship.
Although he had denied suggestions a couple of months ago that Rinehart was a big campaign donor, yesterday Mr Joyce admitted the West Australian mining magnate had given $50,000 to his campaign.
He dismissed suggestions on ABC Radio that there was anything suspicious, clandestine or wrong with the Rinehart connection to a man many regional voters want to see as their champion when it comes to protecting prime agricultural land against the resources industry.
Mr Joyce again also dismissed suggestions Mrs Rinehart had any interests in local land or coal seam gas.
He also denied Mrs Rinehart had paid for the after-election party at West Leagues, saying she’d bought a round of drinks there but didn’t pick up the tab.
The maverick politician, who’s made a name for himself for strangling sentences and metaphors in his media remarks is now the 12th ever member for the New England electorate and will take his seat in the 44th parliament after representing Queensland as a senator for eight years.