The seat became one of the messiest contests in the country when Mr Schultz stood as an independent, then former state minister Katrina Hodgkinson ran for the Nationals, with former Liberal MP for Gilmore Joanna Gash as her campaign co-ordinator and the endorsement of Ms Sudmalis, who had cited «bullying, betrayal and backstabbing» by party colleagues when she quit.
Ms Phillips, a mother of four teenagers who grew up on a dairy farm near Nowra, was delighted to return Gilmore to Labor for the first time since 1996. But as she watched the count on Saturday night, Labor’s poor performance nationally made it bittersweet.
«I was mainly focusing on Gilmore and watching the results come in,» Ms Phillips said. «We had great results in some booths that we’d never won before.
«That was totally amazing but then every now and again we’d flick over to another seat. Warringah was amazing but to see some of the other seats was very disappointing.»
Ms Phillips, who came into politics with a campaign that saved Nowra swimming pool, put her victory down to five years of continual campaigning since standing unsuccessfully for South Coast in the 2015 state election then for Gilmore in 2016.
«We’ve just kept going and going and going,» she said. «We’ve been really united. That’s really helped us by contrast locally with the Liberals and the Nationals.
«We just stayed focused on the people in Gilmore and ultimately people really liked our positive campaign compared to the very, very negative campaign that Warren Mundine ran and also the Nationals candidate. They saw through that.»