Nominations close for NSW by-elections


Nominations were declared yesterday morning for the four state by-elections to be held in NSW on February 12.

I’ve now posted the candidate lists on the seat guides, which you can see at the links below:

I thought there were a few interesting trends in who is standing.

The Coalition is contesting all four seats (three Liberals and one National), while Labor is contesting three. That’s quite a high rate for by-elections – many by-elections are held in safe seats where one of the major parties doesn’t run. This partly reflects that three of the seats have at least some recent history of being marginal, but also that the position of the state government is precarious and Labor gains in Bega or Monaro could make that position more difficult.

The Greens are contesting all four seats, but there are also a surprisingly large number of candidates running for other minor parties that are vaguely positioned on the left.

Sustainable Australia are contesting all four seats, along with two Animal Justice candidates and one Reason Party candidate. I believe this is the first time Reason has contested a NSW state election – the party’s history has mostly been constrained to Victoria up until now, although they’ve contested federal elections across the country.

When I first started analysing elections about two decades ago, most minor parties were on the right wing. Once the Democrats collapsed the Greens had the left largely to themselves. That is not the case now. Parties like Sustainable Australia, Animal Justice and Reason all have elected representatives, and the Greens will be facing challenges from these parties to hold their vote at upcoming elections.

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  1. @Ben I admit I was curious about Reason’s results in NSW and found out it’s merged from two NSW micro parties. Firstly Sex Party (Victoria) merged with Australian Cyclists Party in 2017 to create Reason and then, later in 2019, the NSW Branch of Voluntary Euthanasia Party (VEP) merged with Reason. But they haven’t run under the Reason banner in NSW before (but VEP contested 2015 & 2019 NSW Elections as did Cyclists in 2015).

  2. Ben. Great article and love your work but Sustainable Australia is (in reality) a centrist party, not a left wing party.

    The central plank of their policy is that Net Overseas Migration is too high – a position supported by the left (the Australian Conservation Foundation, various Union movements, housing affordability advocates) and the right (cultural conservatives and other less wholesome elements).

    That’s the reality, regardless of what the party name might suggest.

  3. I was wondering how long it would take to object to my classification! Plenty of Greens people wouldn’t like to be associated with them.

    I’m not necessarily talking about policy, I don’t disagree on that point although I don’t think that necessarily means the same thing as “centrist”, but I’m talking about who votes for them and whose votes they are trying to attract. The Greens would be competing with them for voters in places like the north shore and the north coast.

  4. Then funny thing about Sustainable Australia Party is that we (I am the founder) clearly irritate the Green party supporters who, as Mr Raue points out, used to have the environmental space all to themselves.
    Including a strong population policy in our platform (as the founding Green party platform had) also clearly irritates. That all leads to some people playing the man, not the ball.

    We are certainly more centrist than the Greens. But judge for yourself… SAP’s policies are here for all to see:

    Unbiased commentators generally tell us we are centre left, but who cares about ideological construct if your policies are science and evidence based.

    Although population is a key sustainability issue and therefore included in our policies, our broad policy platform is based on sustainability, democracy, science and evidence.

  5. My prediction is status quo result in all 4 seats, despite a swing against the Government, accounting for the loss of personal vote for those retiring and a small swing to Labor in Strathfield. A loss in Monaro would be good news for both the Premier and Opposition Leader, as only the Nationals would be the losers.

    Worse case scenario for the Government if between now and polling day COVID cases skyrocket after schools return and harsher restrictions are implemented/extended and would see Monaro and Bega change hands, with a large swing against Tim James in Willoughby and an emphatic victory for Jason Yat-Sen Li in Strathfield.

  6. I broadly agree with your assessment echt.

    I’m predicting swings between 5 – 7% in both Monaro and Bega. While the Libs could lose the latter, its more likely they’ll narrowly hold given the margin and the candidate they’ve picked. Strathfield might see a 2 – 3% in either direction.

    The loss of both seats in your worst-case scenario would basically cripple the government. Tough to see them getting much done at all before the next election.

  7. Bit of an update on Reason NSW. It was formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Party NSW and changed its name to Reason NSW in Nov 2019 to become part of the Reason Australia “stable”. Reason’s founder Fiona Patten was instrumental in the passage of the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying laws and always had a close connection with the Voluntary Euthanasia Party in Victoria and federally. Reason is very much focussed on trying to reclaim the centre which seems to been abandoned over recent years.

  8. @ WOS and Echt – Monaro will be the interesting seat to watch, especially around Queanbeyan which swung heavily to Barilaro – will this be the same for the current candidate. It is interesting this seat is Nationals considering Queanbeyan is an urban area (and really an outpost of the ACT).

    Something tells me that WOS is correct with the swings – with Bega the more likely of the two to change hands.

  9. Bega and Monaro have large ish margins but they lose sitting mps with personal votes. If we look at Eden Monaro which holds the vaste bulk of both then both would vote Labor I think Bega more so. Queanbeyan is really the Key to Monaro and a approx 57% national party vote here is unusual. There is be a swing to Labor the question is how much . Both possible

  10. Talking about Overpopulation isn’t really a feature of environmentalism or the Green movement any more. The human population will peak then go down. Many countries are below replacement fertility and the global average declines every year.

    Green movements tend to be more about environmental justice now, overconsumption, and going after corporations who profit from environmental damage. Blaming population puts the blame for environmental damage on people existing, and usually “other” people. In my view it lets politicians who fail to build infrastructure and social housing, and planners who design unsustainable low density car dependent sprawl, off the hook.

    However overpopulation talk is still somewhat mainstream, and beloved environmentalists like David Attenborough and Jane Goodall still talk about it. It’s still easy for many people to be stuck in traffic or see a bad development and blame immigrants and single parents. So sustainable Australia see a niche there.

    One other big change is that environmentalists like cities now. Greens have had to think about what kind of development they do like and the answer is more medium density, transit oriented development, whereas it may have previously been a sustainably managed sea/tree changer property or farm. Sustainable Australia are there to catch the votes of NIMBYs and people who complain about new apartments (no matter what they look like) ruining the character of a suburb.

    They’re basically the DLP of the Greens and I consider them centre right. Their non population policies are quite centrist but their core ideology is inherently right wing and is often called “ecofascism”.

  11. I agree with you John and the issue with development in Australia is the lack of transport facilities. Many suburbs with growth of new apartments lack the rapid transit facilities in places like Asia and Europe, thus forcing people/residents to use cars more often. If necessary transport infrastructure was established before new apartments spring up, then people may not be as frustrated.

    European and Asian cities also have neighborhoods better planned, with urban parks nestled into apartment complexes, thus ensuring residents still have access to open/green spaces.


    The Libs are now preparing for the worst in the upcoming by-elections. I guess it changes my earlier prediction that all four seats would stay in the same hands.

    Strathfield looks like it is now well out of reach for the Libs and I get the feeling they have abandoned the contest. However, Willoughby looks like it will remain a Liberal seat with a large swing against, with Bega the most interesting contest and it is now a 50-50 chance of changing hands so I would expect both camps to funnel resources here as it has the best chance. Monaro will stay with the Nationals but with a swing against. All of this would be good news for Chris Minns, but a negative for the Premier.

    The drama surrounding trouble in the federal government look to be a drag on the Liberal vote also as it will be weighing in voters minds in the lead up to polling day including prepolled and postals. Interestingly, Perrottet is nowhere to be found on campaign material suggests his popularity has taken a hit or he has not gained much of a profile since becoming Premier.

  13. So what you are saying echt is that an 11 year Government is a 50/50 chance of holding all of its seats to be held in by-elections in the middle of the Omicron wave.
    Sorry where is the bad news here??

  14. Interesting what does a 10% 2pp swing do. Alp wins Bega just misses Monaro worries the Libs in Reid.. Willoughby worries lib preselected. Even 7% swing does the same.. The environment surrounding the libs nsw_ National is bad. I Do not know the extent of the personal votes of the sitting mps but in the country seats could be up to 10% more so in Monaro.

  15. My prediction for the 4 by-elections:

    1) Strathfield – Labor hold
    2) Bega – Labor gain
    3) Monaro – Nationals hold – just
    4) Willoughby – Liberal hold with a scare

    If these are the results it would be then interesting to see how this translates in the Federal election. In Bega and Monaro you will really see the personal votes of the retiring members.

  16. I would mostly agree with you James, although Bega is probably a toss-up along with Monaro (Labor’s candidate is fairly strong but the seat has mixed history). It is not a guaranteed Labor gain, although it is probably close to being slightly favoured/Leaning towards Labor.

    My assessment/ratings for these seats are as follows:

    Strathfield- Likely Labor hold
    Bega – Tossup/tilting towards a Labor gain
    Monaro – Pure tossup, cannot handicap at this stage although it would be tilting towards a National hold
    Willoughby – Leaning towards Liberal hold

    This makes 3 competitive seats (all Coalition held) and the one Labor seat is almost a guaranteed hold/retain. Based on these ratings, the likely outcome would be either a status quo or net gain of 1 seat for Labor.

  17. Going against the grain on here with predictions (and will gladly admit defeat if proven incorrect):

    – Bega: Labor gain
    – Monaro: National hold
    – Willougby: Liberal hold
    – Strathfield: Liberal upset gain

    Noting Bega and Strathfield will be interesting to watch at the 2023 election, if Morrison loses and more specifically if Labor retain Gilmore and win Reid. My expectation would be both seats will swing back Liberal.
    Expectation will be Perrottet will get 1 last term, like a Jay Weatherhill did in SA before Libs are turfed.

    Am also interested in the broader trends as to whether Australian states like the US and Canadian provinces, are trending to one party over time (becoming locks for one party), with a few seats here and there proving the difference. That is, Victoria trending long-term Labor lock, NSW trending long-term Liberal/National lock.

  18. LJ
    It could be said that Australian states have had the long term ‘lock’ before.
    Queensland where Labor were in power from 1915 – 57 except 1929-32 then National 1957 – 89 and ALP since except 1996 – 98 and 2012 – 15. Tasmania – Labor – 1934 – 82 except 1969 – 72. Victoria Liberal 1955 – 82. SA Liberal 1938 – 65. There have been more changes in recent years. In Canada particularly in Alberta there have been governments that have held almost every seat – we have had only a few examples like that – WA last year and Qld in 2012. Not really sure if it is happening here but the historical trends suggest otherwise

  19. I don’t think we’re going to see a state going with one party for anything like what we saw in the mid 20th century but if you’re looking for recent examples the best would be Queensland (only 2 conservative governments since 1989) or Victoria (one one conservative government since 1999). NSW is pretty weak evidence, the Coalition has only won three terms in a row after four Labor terms.

  20. Interesting article from the Guardian today.

    One Unnamed Senior NSW Liberal Party Figure said “We’re preparing for it to be bad”

    However it seems as if the Liberals are scared the most about Bega.

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