Riverina MP Michael McCormack was fighting for his seat in Parliament and position as Deputy Prime Minister just 12 months, but it now seems like a different era.
Investment tax credits were a big issue and many commentators had written off the Coalition's chances of winning.
A few days after the one-year anniversary of the federal election, Mr McCormack told The Daily Advertiser that he was optimistic about meeting the brand new challenges that have emerged in the last two months.
"Time has really flown in the past 12 months and there have been significant challenges but we have met them head-on as best we could," he said.
"Communities were still feeling the affects of the drought, and then we had the bushfires, and then we had COVID-19 so it has been a very difficult 12 months, but despite that I think there is still an air of optimism for the future.
"I appreciate that many people have lost their jobs, and for them that's heartbreaking and let's hope they can get back into work as soon as possible. Many businesses have been forced to close their doors and that is tough.
"Despite all that, regional people are pretty resilient people and we are well placed to bounce back; yes, recovery might be slow but we have got the resources, the agriculture, the innovation and the resilience to do that."
Mr McCormack named the kickstarting of multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects as some of his highlights of his term so far.
"There have been some milestones in developing inland rail and that is going to be significant for regional Australia, particularly the Riverina because it literally is the spine of the electorate as it is now," he said.
"It's been a highlight to talk to businesspeople who are benefitting, whether they are looking to the future from a Bomen perspective, a Riverina Intermodal Freight Hub perspective or whether they are further afield in Parkes.
"Getting goods to and from Melbourne and Brisbane within 24 hours is going to be a massive boon for the country."
Executive director of Wagga freight company Ron Crouch Transport and immediate past chairman of the Australian Trucking Association, Geoff Crouch, said Mr McCormack had worked hard for the industry during the pandemic.
"Pre-election, the association had a very good relationship with Mr McCormack as the Minister for Transport," he said.
"I'm pleased to say in my view, and I was the chair at the time, that engagement with the minister's office improved after the election.
"It's very easy to rest on your laurels after a win but I felt that Mr McCormack and his team saw they had a three-year window of opportunity to make a real difference."
Mr Crouch said the coronavirus pandemic placed a lot of demand on the trucking industry but also the additional costs from large and rapid changes.
"As soon as the severity of COVID became apparent, as well as the impact on the transport industry, McCormack initiated a weekly teleconference call about what [the industry] needed from the government to ensure that they could efficiently and viably keep supply chains open.
"You can't do more than that in response to an unprecedented crisis ... I thought that was excellent, and he listened."
Mr McCormack won a majority of votes across all but one of the 93 voting locations for the Riverina.
Charles Sturt University associate professor in political science Dominic O'Sullivan said Mr McCormack's place as an MP was secure but he faced a difficult environment within his own party.
"His leadership has been under threat constantly, partly due to perceived poor performance by some of his colleagues and partly because of the ambitions of some of his colleagues," Dr O'Sullivan said.
"He is unlikely to be threatened in the seat, so what he does nationally and what he does locally are important but not enough to swing things unless it was something quite extraordinary."
Mr McCormack said he had been confirmed as leader and the party performed well at the election.
"I have now been endorsed and re-endorsed by my party three times in less than two years," he said.
"I think it's time to put any leadership speculation behind because my party has placed their faith in me so it's time to move on."