Ousted Liberal candidate Grant Schultz says Prime Minister Scott Morrison's decision to dump him cost the party the seat of Gilmore.
Speaking after achieving an estimated 7 per cent of the primary vote as an independent in the May 18 federal election, Mr Schultz said disunity cost the conservatives the seat.
The Milton resident congratulated Labor's Fiona Phillips on her victory in the ultra marginal seat and said she had "a well-resourced and well-run campaign".
"Fiona ran a strong campaign," he said on Sunday, May 19.
However, amid a national swing to the conservatives, he said the Liberal Party should have won in Gilmore and blamed the fractured conservative vote.
The Liberal Party candidate, Warren Mundine, who was parachuted into the seat from the North Shore of Sydney, suffered a 16 per cent swing against the party on first preferences, compared to the 2016 result.
"If you look at the national results or even the state results, Gilmore has clearly bucked the trend and bucked the trend significantly," Mr Schultz said.
"The Liberal Party in NSW ran exactly the same campaign as it did in Gilmore and indeed across the country.
"It was very well resourced and yet I think there was somewhere in the vicinity of a 16 per cent swing."
He blamed his dumping and the disunity within Liberal and conservative ranks.
"That has been my position quite early," he said.
"That was the issue that cost the Morrison Government this seat. They should have retained it."
"I have seen up to 18 people for a single party at a single booth. It is very intimidating. [Voters] have to run the gauntlet of 2-300 signs or 30 or 40 people thrusting how-to-vote cards."Grant Schultz
Nationals candidate Katrina Hodgkinson claimed just below 13 per cent of the primary vote and the United Australia Party took 3.3 per cent and the Christian Democratic Party took 1.72.
That brought the combined conservative vote on first preferences to 53.74 per cent, overshadowing the combined Labor and The Greens vote of 46.26 per cent.
It was not enough to prevent Ms Phillips claiming the seat, suggesting conservative preferences exhausted, perhaps from Mr Schultz's own supporter base.
"Preferences were a huge issue," Mr Schultz said.
Mr Schultz chose not to direct preferences, instead encouraging supporters to vote one for him, and then make up their own minds.
He said he was "quite happy" with his 7 per cent primary vote and understood that conservative voters wished to remain with major parties "in a time of upheaval".
However he said many backed his decision to run as an Independent after he was disendorsed.
"There was very positive feedback from voters from all the booths about what I did," he said.
"As a person, they were quite impressed with the way I ran my campaign, but they were obviously going to stay with the major parties.
"I think that was quite understandable given the upheaval going into this campaign."
He said he had no immediate political ambitions and would "collect all my corflutes, put my A-frames away and catch up with family".
"I have no plans for any political career at this stage," he said.
However, he was quick to say that the FIX IT NOW campaign for a safer Princes Highway, which he backed at its launch in March 2018 before winning preselection for the Liberals, must go on.
"We need to watch that. We have a long way to go with FIX IT NOW and that is one of the issues I will not be backing down on," he said.
"I don't want a lazy $500 million thrown at us for 12km of road and that is it for the next 20 years."
Mr Schultz also commented on the Liberal Party's print media advertising blitz in the final days of the campaign. Print and digital media are exempted from media blackout laws "but it does not make it fair or just", he said.
"It is very difficult for minor parties just to find the space, let alone the funding," he said.
"The timing on the election blackout eve, is also an issue. It is clearly allowed, but it is a strategy that they can dominate, which makes it difficult."
Mr Schultz took aim at the sheer concentration of major party supporters at pre-polling booths and on the day, including "how many A-frames and placards can be put outside a polling booth".
"It is ludicrous," he said.
"They are in their hundreds at most booths. They also need to look at the number of people handing out how-to-vote cards.
"On some booths, particularly pre-polling booths, there were sometimes 30-plus people handing out how-to-votes.
"I have seen up to 18 people for a single party at a single booth. It is very intimidating. [Voters] have to run the gauntlet of 2-300 signs or 30 or 40 people thrusting how-to-vote cards."
He said supporters of lobby groups added to the throng.
"Non-political parties handing out how-to-votes, based on an agenda or a specific issue, [who are] supposedly not affiliated - climate change, nurse ratios, changing the rules and anti animal cruelty - they add to the confusion," he said.
"Many would argue some are also biased and are merely a de facto face of a party."