Berejiklian’s exit triggers by-election Super Saturday

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The resignation of NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday under a cloud of investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption has now led to two of her ministers also announcing their pending resignations, not just from cabinet but from the parliament. This means we will see at least three NSW state by-elections in the coming months.

I have now prepared a guide to all three seats which is free for all to check out:

Transport minister Andrew Constance announced his resignation on Sunday, while Nationals leader and deputy premier John Barilaro stepped down on Monday. Constance is planning to run for the federal Labor marginal seat of Gilmore (more on that at the end of this post) while Barilaro has ruled out any federal tilt.

Berejiklian holds the north shore seat of Willoughby, which should be reasonably safe barring a strong independent, but the other two seats could be in play.

These two seats are next door to each other in the south-eastern corner of New South Wales. Constance’s seat of Bega has been Liberal-held since its creation in 1988 but is reasonably marginal, and the overlapping areas voted strongly for Labor at the most recent federal contests. Barilaro’s seat of Monaro covers the areas immediately inland from Bega, including the city of Queanbeyan on the outskirts of Canberra. Monaro was won by Labor in 2003 and 2007, and Barilaro only barely held on in 2015 before building up his margin in 2019.

It’s not clear when these by-elections will be held. Berejiklian specifically said she plans to resign her seat only after consulting with the NSW Electoral Commission about when it would be safe to hold a by-election. We can assume all three will be held simultaneously.

There is a NSW local government election due to be held on December 4, so we can assume that it would be considered just as safe to hold state by-elections by that date. If they wish to avoid holding both on the same day it will be hard to fit these by-elections in before February 2022, so they may be some time away.

There are also reports of other government MPs considering resignation, which may add to the ‘Super Saturday’ numbers. There were four by-elections held simultaneously in October 2008, and three held in September 2005 after the retirement of Bob Carr.

The NSW state government doesn’t exactly have seats to spare at the moment. The government won 48 seats in the lower house in 2019, just one more than the minimum for a majority.

Two of those MPs have now moved to the crossbench thanks to scandals, but can be generally relied upon to vote with the government. If the government lost two more seats, they would be in minority, and there would be the potential for a motion of no confidence to pass with the support of the three independents, three Greens and three Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MPs (along with Labor).

If such a motion was passed, there would be time for a new government to be formed, and if this fails an early election could be held to resolve the situation.

That’s not to say that would happen, but a string of by-election losses would make NSW politics a lot more interesting.

One final thought: Constance’s announcement also has implications for the very marginal Labor federal seat of Gilmore.

My guide to Gilmore is free for everyone to access (sign up for $5 a month on Patreon to access every other seat), and it’s worth a read.

I’ve made a map showing the overlap between Gilmore and Constance’s state seat of Bega. The bottom fifth of Gilmore overlaps with the top quarter of Bega, specifically Batemans Bay and surrounding areas in the northern half of Eurobodalla Shire. This includes Constance’s home. So it isn’t a perfect fit, but he is a local in the electorate.

The map also shows the federal seat of Eden-Monaro and the state seat of Monaro. It shows that a majority of Eden-Monaro will be experiencing two by-elections in a year and a half, with the exception of Yass, Tumut and Tumbarumba. That’s before you factor in the local government elections, the 2019 state election or either the previous or next federal election, so they’ll be voting five times in just over three years.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Very interesting as the liberals might have Kiama and Drummoyne by elections as icac continues these inquiries involving former liberal ministers. Sounds like a sinking ship and they could try the blind trust moves of Christian potter

  2. Article mentions Monaro was won by Labor in 2011, but that wasn’t the case – John Barilaro entered NSW parliament at that election.

  3. WL correctamundo.
    Should be 2003 and 2007.

    I think the Shooters will have a good chance of winning here. They’ve won Orange, Barwon and Murray, and I realistically think that Monaro is next.

  4. The overlap with local government elections will complicate things, as local government is often a source of candidates. I don’t know if candidates will be able to stand for both but even if they are it isn’t a good look.

    Labor won Eden Monaro in part because they were able to select a popular mayor for their candidate. They won’t be able to do that again.

    Queanbeyan mayor Tim Overall’s name sometimes pops up as a compelling conservative (probably Nat) candidate for Monaro. No idea if he’s running again.

    An independent could mount a decent challenge in Willoughby, but local government is often a source of those independents.

  5. @Ryan Spencer Monaro has quite a heavy amount of “Canberra Suburbs”, so it will be an uphill battle for the Shooters. Their results in Snowy-Monaro booths in the Eden Monaro byelection weren’t too promising either.

    The next Shooters seat will probably be Cootamundra, or Dubbo (if Matthew Dickerson doesn’t recontest) or Upper Hunter (if PHON doesn’t contest and Labor doesn’t try).

  6. Ryan – Orange, Barwon and Murray are very different to Monaro.

    Monaro is based on Queanbeyan which is effect is a suburb of Canberra. Approximately 60% of Queanbeyan workers, work in the ACT. Therefore it is more likely an ALP v Liberal/Nats.

    Surprisingly the Nationals won most of the Queanbeyan booths last State and Commonwealth by-elections. There is a big personal vote for Barilaro

  7. With Jodi McKay pulling the pin, Super Saturday is now up to 5 by-elections. Any more takers to make it a half dozen or lucky 7?

  8. I have much to say here, I have no idea who’s idea is not to contest the by-elections. and it would be shocking if they even decline to contest Strathfield just based on polling because polling can be wrong and this was done months ago before all these scandals and recent events.

    Is Chris Minns telling the NSW public that he doesn’t WANT to be premier? Because that is exactly what he is doing. throwing the next state election away because if Labor do not contest the by-elections there will likely be Liberal incumbents that will be HARDER to dislodge at the next state election. Minns idea of saving money is a stupid move because if the government is truly bad and unpopular, you shouldn’t need money to win these seats because most of them are WINNABLE.

    In the event the Liberals gain Strathfield whether Labor contest or not, the curtains will be down for Minns, His logic makes 0 sense and Labor should give their voters a candidate. only Willoughby is considered ”Blue ribbon” so I understand why they wouldn’t contest that seat. but Monaro? Holsworthy? are you serious?

    I still think Labor are favoured to win the next state election but this surely will damage their chances if they give the Libs a free run and the Nats a free run in Monaro. Labor has a better chance of winning the seats now than 2023 while they are OPEN contests.

    My advice to Minns? Contest the damn by-elections.

  9. Minns is utterly useless. The only act of Opposition I remember him doing during his entire tenure was when he threatened to hold a COVID briefing when Berejiklian tried weaseling out of them. Other than that the guy’s been a complete waste of space.

  10. I guess maybe with the proximity of the federal election, NSW Labor might not want to waste resources on a couple of state by-elections in Lib/Nat seats?? Perhaps that’s the logic behind Minns’ apparent reluctance to contest.

    Even so, you’d think the political free kick of embarrassing a new Premier and forcing the government to hold onto its slender position, would outweigh that?

  11. Of note is that the Lib margin in Holsworthy goes up to 6.2% post redistribution. Though even then, you would think that Labor could possibly win and have an incumbent with a better chance in 2023.

    In Bega, I wonder if they would be speculating on running if Kristy McBain had been available – rather than having gone for Eden Monaro when Mike Kelly retired. Possibly that might have also been part of Andrew Constance’s thinking.

    I am still mystified why Labor would sit out either Bega or Monaro when they would have some sort of chance.

    To pick up on Mark Mulcair’s point – are the NSW ALP short of money?

  12. Candidate issues could also be at play, particularly Monaro. With a strong candidate in Steve Whan, the seat was competitive but with a lower profile candidate for the 2019 election, Barilaro won comfortably with a substantial swing (>5%) in his favour.

  13. Chris Minns used Labor’s relatively poor showing in Upper Hunter to undermine Jodi Mckay and eventually that forced Mckay to resign as Leader. Maybe Minns doesn’t want to be held to that same standard. The other could that NSW Labor is broke, ICAC cost them a lot of money

  14. patreon_5709227
    Sun Tau is often quoted “he who defends all protects nothing”. A COUNTERPOINT would be “She who attacks everything penetrates nothing”. Mckay was hyper adversarial, & aggressively opposed everything from a fundamentally popular (but nonethelessless flawed) govt, & leader. Her lack of judgement, & discrimination was “scrutinised” by Minns. Who was (proven to be ) right ? Eventually ?
    Her hysterical accusations of being “undermined” & act of revenge in forcing an unnecessary by election say it all.
    IT amuses me that most contributors pour abuse,& scorn, on Latham, Barnaby, Pauline, Lambie ETC (challenger personality types) for their aggression, & are completely blind to the same performance from McKay.
    Likewise the same blindness to all the preaching, lecturing perfectionists in the Greens,& the left generally. THEN when a more functional, rational, restrained version of the same (personality type) appears in the form of Chris Minns, The obvious contrast is unrecognised. Minns has performed brilliantly, & he is judged to be (USEESS, & “Other than that the guy’s been a complete waste of space”). >>
    Furtive Lawngnome
    NO. Minns has refused to engage in reflexive hyper critical obstructionism. He has been constructive, & positive at any opportunity, & extremely reserved & focused in his criticisms. He has no choice but to contest Strathfield, however what exactly does he gain from contesting the other (4) seats ?. Would Labor be able to hold them at the next election ?>>> Unlikely .Could a better strategy be to give an independent a chance to sandbag themselves into a coalition seat ?

    If Minns fails to become Premier, then he may well be the next Labor Prime Minister. He is certainly more talented than any of the current contenders .

  15. Of course you think he’s doing brilliantly lol. Anyone who wanted Labor to win seats and potentially topple Perrottet, or at the very least saddle him with a permanent minority, would prefer Minns do the job it says on the tin. But you’re fundamentally opposed to everything the Labor party ostensibly stands for, so a useless milquetoast suits you just fine.

    ‘If Minns fails to become Premier, then he may well be the next Labor Prime Minister.’

    just lol

    Anyway I actually think patreon is right on the money. Minns pretext for rolling McKay was pretty damn flimsy given that she only lost a single byelection with a relatively small swing. Minns has five chances here. If he failed to improve Labor’s position at all his own leadership would be utterly untenable. So better to be ‘strategic’ and not even try, from his point of view.

  16. Minns seems to have traction…I think some times he is being too careful. The seats of Bega and Monaro are not beyond reach and being country seats tend to stay loyal once won. It is easier to win at a by-election with no sitting mp and win again as a voice in government than the reverse. Jodie McKay is good to meet in person. And maybe she could contest Reid which includes most of Strathfield

  17. FL
    “Minns has five chances here.” Ok which exactly outside of Strathfield which he will obviously DEFEND represent a real chance ?. and which could (subsequently) be reasonably defended in 2023 ?
    This question (which you ignored), was actually raised in my post. Funny that i need to repeat myself….!?

    “But you’re fundamentally opposed to everything the Labor party ostensibly stands for, so a useless milquetoast suits you just fine.”
    Thanks FL for your judgements, assumptions, condemnation, & pejorative accusations. ALTERNATIVELY you could try making an inquiry ? having some curiosity !. Forming some intelligent question(s).
    In fact i support ANY politician that understands THE NATIONAL INTEREST, & SERVES THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE, in an authentic, & genuine way. If the ALP can manage that, & they have (rarely) in the past, then i won’t be voting against them.

    The first & all important reality is to observe them NOT TALKING ABOUT THEMSELVES.
    THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS
    THEIR (personal ) AMBITIONS
    THEIR (personal again ) CAUSES
    Minns manages all that fine.

    Here is another question, or challenge for you FL . Do you wish to make a nomination ?
    Do try not to make me “”lol”

  18. Mick Quinlivan
    “I think some times he is being too careful.’ That’s not unfair. However his predecessors have been demonstrably “careless” wouldn’t you agree ?. Robbo, Foley, Daley, McKay. All dismal failures.
    There is plenty NOT to like about this govt. However they have very successfully milked the Fed infrastructure ” funding cow”. NSW is “flying high” as a result. That makes Minns job pretty challenging, if he wants to protect his credibility. Perhaps you might identify where he could be more aggressive ?

    “The seats of Bega and Monaro are not beyond reach and being country seats tend to stay loyal once won” .
    WD junior tells me that the SFF have been riven with resignations, & internal strife for preferencing Labor.
    Also IIRC about 10%+ of voters “no show” for by elections.
    These are substantial margins, reinforced by OPV.

    McKay might contest Reid. What do you think she could bring to the table that Sam Crosby didn’t.
    I’d suggest she is a far less appealing candidate to THIS seat. Hunter might be a better bet don’t you think. Better than the clown that has been pre selected certainly, & she grew up in Gloucester. Was the MP for Newcastle etc Labor could still lose Hunter.
    cheers wd

  19. I generally agree with winediamond’s assessment of McKay and Minns.

    Minns has been speaking out and engaging communities on concrete issues that matter to people, such as tolls and unfinished schools. I feel he’s much more down-to-earth than McKay. The message I got from McKay was “Labor is just better” without much substance.

    And being opposition leader doesn’t mean you have to be arrogant or immodest.

  20. ‘Ok which exactly outside of Strathfield which he will obviously DEFEND represent a real chance ?’

    Holsworthy and Bega are probably his best bets

    ‘and which could (subsequently) be reasonably defended in 2023 ?’

    Either? Both? They’d be easier to win again with the advantage of incumbency. In any case good oppositions try to win government when the opportunity presents itself, rather than wringing their hands about how hard it’s going to be next time. Basically their one job

    ‘This question (which you ignored), was actually raised in my post. Funny that i need to repeat myself….!?’

    Sorry. Your posts are even more turgid than mine and it was a dumb question anyway

    ‘Thanks FL for your judgements, assumptions, condemnation, & pejorative accusations…’

    blah blah blah. Are you gonna vote Labor at the next election? Are you gonna preference them above the Libs? Of course not. But you’ll cheer on the Labor leader while he yanks the overton window to the right and doesn’t contest a nearly unprecedented string of by elections.

    ‘Here is another question, or challenge for you FL . Do you wish to make a nomination ?’

    Sure. Make me the Liberal candidate for Holsworthy and I’ll romp it for you

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