Barnaby Joyce reclaims seat and deputy role
BARNABY Joyce will return to Canberra and take back his role as Deputy Prime Minister after a strong win in today's by-election.
The Nationals leader arrived at his election-night party at 7pm confident of taking back his seat of New England.
After a dramatic campaign marred by death threats and innuendo, Mr Joyce looked relived as he danced into his election night party alongside Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Addressing supporters at the Southgate Inn, Mr Joyce said he was "humbled" by the support.
"To the people of New England, thank you very much - I hold you as close to my heart as I could possibly hold you."
Factional spats were put aside as Nationals MPs mingle with the Prime Minister despite weeks of dysfunction and fighting about a royal commission in to the banks.
Nationals MPs Llew O'Brien, Andrew Broad and John Williams, who threatened to cross the floor on a bank inquiry, are at the party.
Former Deputy Nationals Leader Fiona Nash, forced to resign as part of the dual citizenship saga, is also in Tamworth to celebrate the win.
Mr Turnbull told the crowd it was a "stunning result".
Early results suggested a swing of up to 10 per cent towards Mr Joyce, who previously held the safe Nationals seat by 8.5 per cent.
Mr Joyce spent the day in smaller towns, taking his elderly parents James and Marie with him to cast their vote.
Mr Joyce's re-election bid has been marred by death threats, party infighting and controversial comments from the NSW Deputy Premier that Malcolm Turnbull should quit.
In the final days of the campaign Mr Joyce was even forced to travel with a security guard after being stalked by a local man who has followed him on the campaign trail bombarding him with questions about his personal life.
Mr Joyce's wife and daughters have been absent from the campaign but Nationals colleagues including Damian Drum, Andrew Broad and Cabinet Minister Darren Chester spent the day handing out how-to-vote cards in the rain in an effort to re-elect their leader.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull even made the trip to New England in time for the vote count in Tamworth.
With a threat of an election-day shooting, police were on guard at polling booths across the electorate as tens of thousands of voters cast ballots.
A bullet and a note threatening a shooting was reportedly found on one school premises and another bullet was sent early in November to Joyce's electorate office.
Mr Joyce is expected to easily win back his seat in northeast NSW but he looked like a defeated man admitting it hadn't been an easy campaign.
"It's been a very long campaign," he said.
"I wouldn't want (it) to go for another couple of weeks."
When asked by election officials whether he had already voted in the by-election, dad James said: "No I haven't. It's a bit of a worry just having to do it once."
Meanwhile, Mr Joyce warned that the New England and Bennelong by-elections were unlikely to be the last suggesting Labor had not been upfront in the dual citizenship saga.
"We fessed up … there were others that came out from the Liberal Party, maybe they should've come out earlier," he said. "Wouldn't it have been better if we had all those by-elections on one day?
"I bet you London to a brick that Mr Shorten has got questions to answer."
Sixteen candidates lined up against Mr Joyce.