The first polling to take place under COVID-19 restrictions has reinstalled a Labor member to the seat of Eden-Monaro.
Former Bega mayor Kristy McBain claimed victory in the by-election over the Liberals' Fiona Kotvojs on Sunday afternoon after 94,000 votes had been counted.
"On all metrics it looks like Labor Party will secure the seat again," Ms McBain said, with 1000 votes putting her ahead and 4000 postal votes still outstanding.
The victory largely drew on preferences, and Agriculture and Resources Shadow Minister Joel Fitzgibbon conceded it was "a bit of an ugly win" for Labor.
But he also told Insiders he had "not campaigned alongside a better candidate" than Ms McBain, and Mike Kelly, whose resignation as MP sparked the by-election, congratulated his successor.
"Delighted at the attention we drew to our issues. As painful as leaving has been this has made it all a little bit easier," he wrote on twitter.
Ms McBain said her priorities would be bushfire recovery and jobs for the region.
"It will be a big job but I'm ready to hit the ground running," Ms McBain told media in Merimbula.
The nature of Labor's win was reflected in polling places in the southern corner of the seat.
As at 7pm on Saturday, there was a swing in the two-party preferred vote towards Ms McBain in Tumbarumba (0.42 per cent), Rosewood (1.43 per cent) and Khancoban (6.79 per cent), but the most first preferences went to Ms Kotvojs across those areas.
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Matthew Stadtmiller, who directed preferences to Ms McBain, secured 18.84 per cent of first preferences in Tumbarumba, over The Nationals' 4.73 per cent.
At the Khancoban booth, local of 48 years Annette Milton said attention was needed in the area's tourism and industries.
"[Mike Kelly] was a very nice person and he was one that would sit and listen to you. I'm just hoping the candidate that's taking over his place will do the same," she said.
"This town has to go ahead, or else we're just going to die.
"It would be nice to get some form of industrial [development] here - give the young ones a bit of employment.
"If you can't get on the Snowy, you have to go to Corryong or Albury."
Jan Tent was among a handful of Khancoban supporters for The Greens, saying the major parties' lack of action on climate change influenced his vote.
"We really do need to do something on the environment," he said.
"There aren't many people who vote Labor or Greens here at all, just from chatting to people."
Mr Tent said he saw "not a single" politician in the region in the aftermath of the summer's fires.
"We're stuck right down the bottom of the electorate, so we're really ignored most of the time. You get used to it," he said.
Residents were asked to bring in their own pencils on Saturday, and only two people were allowed into the Khancoban visitor information centre at a time to cast their vote.
Paul Stephenson understood the restrictions, but took issue with delays due to the system.
"They've got to do that, that's fair enough, but I do complain about the fact they're bringing new systems in that haven't been trialled," he said.
"My wife's name wasn't on there [in the system]."
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He shared a similar sentiment to Mr Tent about political representation in the area with The Border Mail.
"When the election's over, they forget all about you," he said.
"It's a lovely little place here, looked after very well by the council and Snowy.
"Without them, nothing much would be happening. Through the bushfires, they were fantastic.
"I've seen a couple kangaroos and a few brumbies, but no politicians."