Former member for Eden Monaro Mike Kelly with his wife Rachelle Sakker-Kelly after announcing his defeat to the Federal Election at Queanbeyan Park. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Mike Kelly has conceded the seat of Eden-Monaro, citing leadership instability and media influence as partial causes of the loss.
Addressing the media in Queanbeyan, the Labor incumbent said he would be stepping aside in the bellwether seat, despite ongoing uncertainty over the final result.
“I felt it was important to end that uncertainty this morning, given that we feel the trend does not look good for us,” he said.
Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro, Peter Hendy. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
The concession comes almost one week after the federal vote, with the latest figures showing the former Labor member 633 votes behind his Liberal challenger Peter Hendy.
Despite taking full responsibility for losing the seat, Mr Kelly said the “leadership and instability stuff” had impacted on his chances.
“That issue began back in 2010,” he said.
“That was the mistake that gave us the difficulties from then after… I thought 2010 was a major mistake.”
Mr Kelly said the Coalition’s campaign and its “debt and deficit narrative” had increased anxiety within the electorate, while the media had also impacted negatively on Labor’s chances nationally.
“There’s no secret there on the war that was being waged by certain elements of the media,” he said,
“That makes it tough.”
Speaking earlier to Fairfax Media, Mr Kelly acknowledged that key postal votes had been trending against him as the count entered its sixth day
“I thought a little while back, we might be able to scrape home,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, on Saturday, the feeling was we were going to fall a bit short.”
Having held the seat since 2007, Mr Kelly said he was proud of what Labor achieved and was sure either “Bill or Albo” would do an outstanding job leading the party in Opposition.
“I would just like to urge them all to hold true to defend the clean energy policy,” he said.
“It’s important, it’s important for our children’s future … I would actually ask the Coalition to revisit their position on both the NBN and the clean energy package.”
Mr Kelly said said he hoped Rudd would serve a full term, stating “I don’t think we should be having a by-election right now”.
Meanwhile, he hasn’t ruled out running for the “knife edge” seat of Eden-Monaro again.
“Because the vote was so close and because of the personal support I had, I’ll keep all my options open,” he said.
Mr Kelly is yet to contact Mr Hendy, though has congratulated him publicly.
Despite acknowledging Mr Kelly's "gracious" concession, Mr Hendy told Fairfax Media he would not claim the seat until the counting had been finalised.
"I haven't actually claimed the win yet, but I have seen he's conceded," he said.
"I was invited to the Liberal Party meeting. So, the party is quite confident that I'm going to win."
Mr Hendy said once officially appointed, his focus would be on ensuring no federal government jobs were cut from Eden-Monaro, as well as abolishing the carbon tax.
"One of the biggest issues that came up was the carbon tax and electricity prices," he said.
"I will be backing Tony Abbott to the hilt to get that abolished, hopefully by the end of the year."
Until then, Mr Hendy said he would enjoy a "quiet, congratulatory time" with his family.