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Xenophon candidate ousts Briggs in Mayo

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Nick Xenophon is accustomed to making electoral history, but he has written a new chapter in 2016 with his fledgling party snaring a maiden lower house seat.

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Former federal government minister Jamie Briggs has been dumped from his seat of Mayo with Xenophon candidate Rebekha Sharkie taking the prized federal election scalp.

The Liberals suffered a 15 per cent swing against them on first preferences, to lose the seat for the first time since it was created.

Briggs offered his congratulations as he conceded defeat.

Cheered by supporters, Sharkie said the past year had been the best of her life.

“You dream, you hope and while we don’t know for sure yet it’s just been wonderful. What a great day,” she said.

“So far, so good. I’m so privileged, I just love Mayo.”

She put her performance down to hard work and “dreaming big”.

“But … the hard work has just begun,” she said.

Briggs was wasn’t helped by a public fall from grace, when he was forced to quit as a federal minister late last year after allegations of misconduct towards a public servant in Hong Kong.

He also had to defend his decision to send a photograph to colleagues identifying the public servant who lodged a confidential complaint about his behaviour.

It was clear the issue was still on the minds of some voters, with a woman confronting him after he cast his ballot at Stirling on Saturday.

“Do you regret sending that photo of that lady to everybody Mr Briggs. Do you wish you didn’t do it?” the woman said.

In other SA seats, Liberal Christopher Pyne looks set to weather a swing against him in Sturt, but his colleague Matt Williams is in danger of losing his marginal seat of Hindmarsh to the man from whom he won it, Labor’s Steve Georganas.

The Nick Xenophon Team is on track to take three SA senate seats, and could yet snare a second lower house seat in the previously safe Liberal electorate of Grey – where incumbent Rowan Ramsey has suffered a swing of more than 13 per cent against him.

Despite the wider election count going down to the wire, Xenophon said he still expected to be negotiating with a coalition government.

“People know me, they know I’ll be pesky and persistent but I will sit down and be pragmatic and negotiate with the government of the day,” he said.

Xenophon said the result in SA showed voters felt neglected by the major parties.

“People are sick of this toxic politics where the major parties throw mud at each other and they don’t sit down and solve the nation’s problems,” he said.

-AAP

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