The only winners from the Eden-Monaro byelection were the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce says, calling on his own party to take the results seriously and make itself heard.
"I don't think that this is just a certain peculiarity in time and space," he said of the result.
"You've got to say, 'OK, we have been given a message to be much louder and more parochial in how we're identified in the community'.
"And if that means that at times people are going to dislike you intensely for some of the things you say, that is a better alternative than not hearing you."
Mr Joyce said the Nationals must analyse the result honestly.
Overall, the Nationals had 6.4 per cent of the vote as counting continued on Monday, 0.5 points down on last year, with the Shooters just behind on 5.4 per cent - about 1000 votes fewer.
Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs was yet to concede to Labor's Kristy McBain, despite Ms McBain claiming victory on Sunday afternoon. The margin narrowed considerably since, due to several large counting errors. At 4pm on Monday, there were 749 votes between the pair, with Ms McBain in the lead.
As many as 4000 postal votes are expected to arrive with the Australian Electoral Commission, with votes accepted until July 17.
Labor did worst immediately east of Canberra, in Queanbeyan, Bungendore and Braidwood.
Ms McBain was hit with a big swing against her even in some coastal seats, despite living on the South Coast and the ill feeling there against the government after the bushfires.
Bermagui and Narooma swung solidly against her.
Dr Kotvojs also went significantly backwards in some coast seats, including Merimbula and Tathra, but picked up support in other coast seats including Bega and Narooma.
In Cobargo, hit so badly by fire, Labor's vote was down 9 per cent and the Liberals' up 7 per cent.
Batlow, the apple town also devastated by fire, voted solidly for the Liberals, as did Cooma, where Dr Kotvojs's vote was up 8 per cent in the biggest booth.
Shooters candidate Matthew Stadtmiller, who runs a newspaper at Harden and had the advantage of top spot on the ballot paper, said his party had polled best along the western side of the electorate - Yass, Tumut, Tumbarumba and Batlow - areas that had been neglected and where feelings were strongly against forced council mergers, and where water allocations were a big issue.
Yass, Cooma and to a lesser extent Tumut moved heavily against the Nationals.
Mr Joyce said the result showed "people are angry".
"They voted for a party that hasn't delivered so much as a bridge, hasn't delivered a footpath," he said.
"Their candidate I don't think lived in the electorate, and I don't think a lot of people would truly understand what the Shooters and Fishers' policies were."
The lesson for the Nationals was to stay local and differentiate from the Liberals.
"You are not married to the Liberal Party, you are business partners with the Liberal Party, and you have to be seen clearly as the National Party," he said.
"It might be convenient for the Liberals in the parliament if the National Party are nice and quiet but ultimately it means they'll lose the federal election."
Mr Stadtmiller had a similar message, saying the Nationals wore an Akubra in the bush but acted like Liberals in parliament.
"After 100 years it's pretty clear that they're on the nose in the bush with a lot of people," he said.
"They're not the old country party they used to be.
"When it gets down to it, they vote with the Liberals," he said.
As if to ward off the party's challenge, Mr Hicks, who now lives on his farm at Captains Flat, described himself in campaign material as "a keen fisherman, hunter and sports enthusiast".
Nationals leader Michael McCormack rebutted concerns about the threat posed by the Shooters on Monday.
He did not address Mr Joyce's criticisms, saying the votes were still being counted so any commentary on what impacted the result was no more than speculation.
"More voters have given the Nationals their first preference than either the Shooters or the Greens, a strong endorsement of the campaign we ran," he said.
He highlighted the "awful" result for Labor, which won about 36 per cent of the first preference vote overall, more than two points behind the Liberals, on 38 per cent.
The swing against Labor was more than 3 per cent. The Liberals upped their vote, with a swing to the party of 1.3 per cent.
"This is extraordinary, given the average byelection swing against a Government is 3.8 per cent," Mr McCormack said.