IT took until almost 9.30pm to satisfy Ann Sudmalis she had the numbers to win the seat of Gilmore, as the electorate became one of the nation's closest.
When Liberal candidate Ms Sudmalis arrived at the Nowra School of Arts last Saturday to greet a 100-strong crowd of supporters, her words were of victory.
"The numbers are there," she said. "It's time to get into some work."
Gilmore incorporates Shellharbour, Shell Cove and Warilla.
Ms Sudmalis thanked her family and those who had helped on the campaign trail for the past 15 months, saying the change of government was crucial.
"I'm just a small section of that machine to get us back on track," she said.
Ms Sudmalis recorded a swing against her in most of the booths she won, but she was unconcerned about the potential three per cent swing against the 5.3 per cent margin retiring member Joanna Gash secured in 2010.
"I knew I was walking uphill," she said.
Ms Sudmalis found herself at the centre of Labor's television campaign after she told an ABC-organised forum in Bomaderry that workplace relations legislation would be on the table after the election, not before - a statement she later retracted.
When asked how she dealt with the negative publicity, she said it was just a mistake.
Her vote represents a 4.4 per cent swing against the nationwide trend towards the Coalition.
It was third time unlucky for Labor's Neil Reilly, who conceded at 11pm after attending a function at the Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemen's Club.
"One of the things that is proven as a result of tonight, of all of the ALP seats in Australia, ours is the highest swing," he said.
Kiama councillor Mr Reilly attributed this to a different approach to many party colleagues. "The reason I believe that we have that high swing is because we've accentuated the positive, and we've eliminated the negative," he said.
Mr Reilly said his third federal election campaign would be his last, with his future focus on international relations.
Polling next highest was the Greens' Terry Barratt on nine per cent, Palmer United Party candidate Lyndal Harris on 6.44 per cent and Christian Democratic Party candidate Steve Ryan on 3.39 per cent. Ms Harris performed the best of the party's Illawarra candidates.