Barnaby Joyce outside of Tamworth. Photo: Nick Moir
Well, the most important thing to do at this period of the interregnum is to thank your booth workers. In my case their efforts resulted in us winning every booth on primaries and 100 out of 102 on two-party preferred. While signing all the letters for people that spent their day handing out how-to-vote cards and espousing my better virtues to the passing parade of voters, I realise politics is very much a team sport.
Then you have those special booths where more than 90 per cent of the vote supports you. For me it was Woolbrook Public School where in 1978 I was school captain, Ben Lomond, high in the hills behind Armidale, Elsmore near Inverell and Nowendoc. I was very honoured that the Aboriginal communities decided to give me a go and it was a real honour to receive more than 50 per cent of the two-party preferred vote at all the booths with a higher Aboriginal demographic.
Now comes the difficult part, making sure you do not let them down; making sure that you give your best endeavours to be their servant.
A public function at the West Tamworth Leagues that night, had those doing it tough and those at the top, all sharing the same venue. That is what is so good about Australia; our egalitarian nature where the meat worker is talking to Gina Rinehart. That is who we are when we are at our best.
In other electorates comes the heart-rending experience where those who once supported their member leave them and they lose their seat. For others is the brutal epiphany that so many left you that you almost lost your seat.
Now comes a time where you have to turn your promises into delivery and your representations into a consistent expression of how you act. For many, you will see that what they said on the street during the campaign to gain your vote will not be what they express in the chamber in Canberra on your behalf.
The culture of Capitol Hill will be hard at work, taking members and decision makers out to dinner, to guide their thoughts in more enlightened ways, to put the dust of inertia over their statements of change. The quieter rooms at the better restaurants will be booked out as lobbyists use their corporate card to mould the plasticine of new members and Senators and show them the path of the sunny uplands of their career if they make the ''right'' decisions.
Probably the most notable experience of my campaign was leaving the main cities and towns and drinking a longneck on a long bench at Nowendoc; well, all bar the driver drinking a longneck, with the farmers and workers coming in after a hard week. The sun was setting through the haze from the fires in the district and lined up along the bench, people passed the final part of the day, before heading home.
This was about as far from Canberra as you could possibly get and my two assistants revelled in the unique Australian nature of this experience. Those of Nowendoc must have enjoyed the experience as well, judging by the local polling booth results.
What do these people want? Honesty, consistency or generally that they can rely on you to do the right thing. They probably had the hope that the weighting of this experience at Nowendoc was more seminal than the corporate dinner in Canberra. Let's hope they are correct.
For the Labor opposition, comes the stark reality that the pendulum has swung and although it may swing back, the history of Australia says that you are generally waiting six years or more before that happens. The poison chalice of being the first opposition leader will be passed backwards and forth because we all know that it is the ticket to the end of your political career. If you are to get that job, you are probably at a mature stage of your career in any case and the brutality of opposition means it is highly unlikely that you will ever hold that mantle should at some date you return to government.
The best place for any prospective Labor future prime minister to be during this week, is back at Nowendoc on that bench, watching the sun set with the locals and letting your colleagues prescribe the political leeches without you.
Barnaby Joyce is the Coalition's spokesman for regional development, local government and water.