Labor's Michael Holland has claimed victory in Saturday's Bega by-election even though the official result won't be known for weeks.
A Labor victory would be its first in Bega since the electorate was created in 1988.
Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs is understood to not yet be conceding the election, but at a function on Saturday night, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottethis party was unlikely to win the seat vacated by Liberal colleague and federal government aspirant Andrew Constance.
"I want to congratulate Dr Michael Holland, he has big shoes to fill and I'm sure he'll do a great job representing Bega," Mr Perrottet told the ABC.
Dr Holland said unless there was a drastic change in postal vote results, he was confident the apparent victory would hold.
"You don't make that claim without good advice," Dr Holland said. "So when I came out last night and did so I was doing that with confidence."
The respected obstetrician and gynaecologist said several key issues stood out for him during the campaign as a point of difference between the major parties.
"It shows there was a significant local sentiment here [against the state government].
"I started off with health naturally, but as the campaign continued housing was an important issue. There's also still a lot to do in bushfire recovery, which is a big issue, particularly in and around Mogo and Cobargo."
Dr Holland said while his win meant Bega would have a member in opposition, he would be fighting strongly for his community, with that advocacy "likely to be more powerful with the government further in minority now".
Dr Holland was meeting Labor leader Chris Minns in the Euorobdalla Sunday morning before returning to "normal work" on Monday.
However, on Tuesday he said he was heading to Sydney to be introduced to the Labor Caucus.
"I was planning to be in Bega for the nurses rally, but I believe there's also going to be one in Martin Place I can attend. "I will be there [at Bega] in spirit though."
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