Chris Gulaptis talks to the National Party helpers at the Maclean Civic Hall Polling Booth.
Chris Gulaptis talks to the National Party helpers at the Maclean Civic Hall Polling Booth. Debrah Novak

Gulaptis is our new MP

CHAMPAGNE corks popped around 9.30 on Saturday night signalling Chris Gulaptis' victory for the Nationals in the Clarence by-election.

After a massive two months, Mr Gulaptis said he was proud the people of Clarence had entrusted their faith in him to deliver on local issues.

He said the first thing he would be doing once the electoral commission declared the poll would be to meet with his staff and then get to work on important issues for the electorate.

"I regard it as a privilege to serve the people of the Clarence and it is humbling that people put their faith in you," he said.

"When I look back over the campaign I see it as an endorsement of the Nationals and the O'Farrell-Stoner Government and I see the win as a good win for the Nationals.

"I also see it as an endorsement of the hard work that Steve Cansdell has done."

Mr Gulaptis said he will follow in the footsteps of his hard-working predecessor and tour the electorate, community by community, talking to locals about the issues important to them.

"The critical issues in the by-election were jobs, law enforcement, health and roads," he said.

"I want to get up to speed with these and other critical issues Steve Cansdell was working on to make sure they are on track.

"The reason Steve was popular is that he was fighting for these issues and delivering and following on with them.

"I need to make sure that continues as a matter of priority."

Mr Gulaptis said he would be talking to Mr Cansdell about these and other issues, as he had a lot of respect for what he achieved and knowledge he gained after more than eight years as member for Clarence.

Although the party suffered a 16% two-party-preferred swing against it just under eight months after Steve Cansdell's landslide victory in the March 26 election, Premier Barry O'Farrell said on his visit to Grafton on Jacaranda Thursday the Coalition would take a win even if it was by 1%.

As most people predicted, the margin didn't get that slim, with Clarence constituents voting in Mr Gulaptis with 56.8% of the primary vote over Labor's Peter Ellem with 28.2%.

Mr Gulaptis said he preferred not to talk statistics but get on with the job at hand.

With the acting premier, Nationals leader Andrew Stoner on hand to celebrate victory, Mr Gulaptis said he received a congratulatory call from his main opponent, Peter Ellem on Saturday night.

He said he also received a call on Saturday wishing him all the best from Premier Barry O'Farrell, who was in India, and a congratulatory message from Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin.



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