11.53: Late extra update. It appears independent Ray Kingston isn't quite yet ready to fully concede, according to a speech he made tonight, recorded by the Wimmera Mail-Times.
Mr Kingston said: "Television and media tonight have called this seat already for the National Party. If you crunch the numbers that's not correct. There is still a chance that this goes elsewhere, and the most likely elsewhere is me, so we're still alive here. But the likely reality is they will win and I'll wear that and I'll happily congratulate them."
What does this mean?
Well, The Greens, Cecilia Moar and Jason Modica all put Mr Kingston higher on their how-to-vote cards than Labor, so if a bulk of their votes follow the card then Mr Kingston's vote will rise above Labor candidate Carole Hart. From there, because Labor preferenced the independents, a lot of votes for Ms Hart will flow to Mr Kingston. This will almost certainly put him into the two-candidate preferred vote (unless Mr Modica picks up enough votes at Mildura's two pre-polls to put himself atop the pack).
(Confused? Re-watch our preference explainer.)
In short, Mr Kingston is right that the "likely reality" is The Nationals have won the seat, though if a somewhat-complicated series of events go a certain way the contest could in theory be back on again.
For now though, The Nationals have claimed victory and that's almost certainly the result.
On Facebook, Mr Kingston added: "Despite a massive swing against the LNP, it's likely that we've been pipped at the post. With a complex field we won't be 100% sure for a couple of days. Still an outside chance. Been a hell of a ride."
10.40: And that's a wrap for the night. The Nationals have claimed victory in the seat of Mallee.
#MALLEEVOTES: All smiles from the @MalleeRay camp at Murtoa. Nats will hold Mallee but primary vote has been reduced from 64% last election to 29% this election. (47% combined with Libs) Independent claims that swing against the Coalition as a big win @abcmelbourne#ausvotespic.twitter.com/ve9oaTQN9W— Bridget Rollason (@bridgerollo) May 18, 2019
9.53: Meanwhile, nationally, the election has been called for the Coalition.
10% informal vote in Mallee speaks volumes.— lynn b (@lynniebells) May 18, 2019
30 per cent first preference votes have gone to independents and others in the Mallee so far. Pretty extraordinary. Swing now 26 per cent away from Nats in their treasured heartland. pic.twitter.com/BZS8C7T94s— Charlotte King (@CharEKing) May 18, 2019
9.44: Nationals candidate Anne Webster said she was “quietly confident” she was over the line in Mallee
“I’m just really humbled obviously and feel really privileged that we’ve been voted back in, and the people of Mallee – my intention is to represent all voters of the Mallee to the utmost of my ability for the next three years,” she said.
“I haven’t popped the champagne but I’m certainly looking forward to doing so.”
Dr Webster said the result nationally, which looks like the government winning the election, was terrific.
“It is just fantastic,” she said.
“If you believed the polls we were looking at scraping in and with Bob Hawke’s death as well there was an expectation there would be some additional votes going to Labor.”
8.46: Independent candidate Jason Modica is holding out hope of preferences could keep him in the race for the seat.
“There’s a small chance there,” he said.
“The numbers are quite interesting. There’s a swing away from the Nats.
“I’m just going to sit here and watch the telly and see how things go.
“It’s just nice to know there’s a glimmer of hope there. I’ll just sit back and smile for the rest of Saturday night and see what happens tomorrow.”
8.11: Nationals candidate Anne Webster is clearly in the box seat at this stage of the count.
As booths continue to come in, she's remained above 30 per cent on first preferences, while Coalition partner and Liberal candidate Serge Petrovich is attracting above 15 per cent.
Historical flows indicate about 90 per cent of Liberal first-preferences flow to a Nationals candidate, so getting to 50 per cent seems highly realistic for Dr Webster.
There are more urban booths to come, of course, plus early voting, which is a great unknown with how many pre-pollers there were.
But for now, signs are favourable for Dr Webster.
7.51: Ray Kingston is at the Railway Hotel in Murtoa with supporters watching the count on television.
“All I was looking for tonight was to have a reasonable primary vote myself and for the Coalition to be a good chunk below 50 per cent,” he said.
“It then becomes a really interesting seat because of the 13 candidates and a few unknowns about preference flows.
“I’m really pleased with the early numbers.
“History says 45 (per cent) is a race.”
7.46: Some of the Twitter action:
Looks like the Nationals will hold Mallee. Currently on 31% of primary vote, Libs 16%, lots of conservatives for preferences to make up the rest.— Malcolm Farnsworth (@mfarnsworth) May 18, 2019
NAT 1st preference count around 31.5%. Down a staggering 22.5%. Only 15.7% going to Libs. #malleevotes— Jonathan Dyer (@dyerjonathan) May 18, 2019
#BackTheBeard volunteers for @MalleeRay at the Murtoa Pub say they are positive after manning the booths today. With 20% of the votes counted the Nats have clear lead of 30% followed by Libs & Labor. Ray is on 12% @abcmelbourne#ausvotes#malleevotespic.twitter.com/L5Q969BuOe— Bridget Rollason (@bridgerollo) May 18, 2019
7.34: Anne Webster continues to lead the count with 5666 (30.7%) from Serge Petrovich 2901 (15.75) and Carole Hart 2870 (15.58). Ray Kingston is the best independent with 2372 (12.88) and Jason Modica on 1203 (6.53). Forty-nine of 94 booths have been counted.
7.08: Anne Webster (Nationals) has 1648 of first preference votes with Serge Petrovich (Liberal) 892 and Carole Hart (Labor) 876. The best of the independents to date is Ray Kingston with 611 while Dan Straub (Shooters, Fishers and Farmer) is on 381.
6.10pm: TWO-CANDIDATE PREFERRED ANNOUNCED
The AEC will be tracking the preference flows to Nationals candidate Anne Webster and Labor candidate Carole Hart tonight. This is only made official after the close of polls, which has just happened.
It could make the task of knowing a winner tonight more difficult. If another candidate is in the top two, those preferences won't be counted tonight.
However, if a candidate picks up 50 per cent of the primary vote, it might not matter.
6.00pm: Preferences could be key to tonight's vote, and may even mean we don't know who the winner of Mallee is until tomorrow ... or later. For more, read Dr Kevin Bonham's take here.
For the complete rundown on how preferences work, here's our explainer:
5.50pm: Welcome to Sunraysia Daily's live coverage. We're 10 minutes away from the close of polls!