Paterson MP Meryl Swanson, fresh from her second term election victory, has thrown her support behind embattled Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon - a moderate from the "sensible centre' - for the Labor leadership.
In the wake of Labor's shock loss at Saturday's poll, Mr Fitzgibbon, who has only just managed to hold on to his seat following a severe swing against the veteran MP, had indicated (at time of publication on Tuesday) that he will contest the leadership.
Ms Swanson said that she would support Mr Fitzgibbon if he contested the top job. "I think Joel speaks for the people across the great divide, those from the city and from the bush and he can manage issues ranging from energy to the environment and jobs."
While she was elated to be returned, Ms Swanson was philosophical about the 5 per cent swing against her, a dip she said was the result of One Nation and Palmer United preferences being stacked against Labor.
She said often there would be an adjustment in the vote for a second term candidate and a history check found cursed swings against Ms Swanson's predecessors Bob Baldwin (Liberal) and Bob Horne (Labor) dating back to the 1990s.
"I am a firm believer in listening to the people and I have heard what they have to say," Ms Swanson said.
"The electorate is feeling the squeeze economically and having time to reflect I believe our party's national agenda got too big and we were not able to take the people along with us. There was a genuine fear factor [promoted by the Liberals]."
Ms Swanson said that she was deeply disappointed for those Port Stephens groups who would miss out on Labor's election promises such as schools funding and admitted that the party's response to the PFAS contamination issue was "poor".
"The party didn't back me [on PFAS] but I am now more determined than ever to continue the fight for the people of Paterson."
Conversely, Liberal's Sachin Joshi was upbeat about achieving a 5.3 per cent swing (two party preferred) despite a low-key election campaign and a lack of financial party support.
Asked what he could have done with more time and a bigger budget, Mr Joshi refused to speculate on the "ifs and buts", saying only that he believed the swing he achieved was a direct result of coordinated efforts of passionate party volunteers.
"I was very happy with the result considering it was only a short, six-week campaign. In hindsight yes I would have liked more time and resources but overall I am happy that the Liberals are back in government and that I have achieved a good outcome for the party," he said.
"We ran a tight grassroots campaign, focusing on small business and a strong economy, lower taxes and more local jobs. Our message resonated with the people in Paterson.
"In terms of support from the Liberals I was given 100 per cent. The unusual situation of having a state election less than two months prior to the federal election meant I only had six weeks of campaigning, but I have no regrets."
Mr Joshi admitted that the broader, national agenda had played a major part in the election result.
"Voters were telling me they were concerned about the Labor Party's divisive agenda on taxes, franking credits, negative gearing and capital gains," he said.
"I was privileged to have a dedicated team of volunteers who were with me during pre-poll, polling day and behind the scenes supporters, advisers and well-wishers."
Mr Joshi congratulated Ms Swanson on her victory and while he was pleased to be back at work post-election, he would not rule out standing again in a future election.
Paterson's One Nation candidate Neil Turner said that be believed Mark Latham, the party's leader in NSW, was a popular politician and was drawing away traditional Labor voters.
"In my view it has been the taxation and anti-coal policies of Labor that has lost them support. If the Hunter based Labor MPs had supported replacing Liddell with a modern coal fired power station for base load electricity, I think the party would have secured more votes."