Eden-Monaro by-election, 2020

Cause of by-election
Sitting Labor MP Mike Kelly announced his resignation on April 30.

MarginALP 0.9%

South-Eastern NSW. Eden-Monaro covers parts of south-eastern New South Wales surrounding the ACT, along the south coast and in the Snowy Mountains. Major centres include Bega, Yass, Tumut, Queanbeyan and Cooma.

Eden-Monaro is an original federation seat, and because of its position in the corner of the state, it has always covered mostly the same area. The seat was a safe conservative seat for the first few decades, but it has been a marginal seat since the Second World War, and was considered a ‘bellwether seat’ from 1972 until 2016, having always been won by the party of government for the last four decades until it swung to Labor in 2016.

The seat was first won by Austin Chapman of the Protectionist Party in 1901. Chapman held the seat until 1926, during which time he served as a Minister in Alfred Deakin’s governments. He later returned to the ministry under Stanley Bruce from 1923 to 1924. Chapman died in 1926, and John Perkins won the seat in a by-election.

Perkins was defeated by John Cusack (ALP) in 1929, but won it back for the United Australia Party in 1931. Perkins served in a number of ministerial roles under Joe Lyons, and was defeated in 1943 by Allan Fraser of the ALP.

Fraser served in the seat for over twenty years, including a period as a senior Labor member in opposition. Fraser was defeated by Dugald Munro in the 1966 landslide but regained the seat in 1969. He retired from Eden-Monaro in 1972.

Bob Whan (ALP) held the seat from 1972 to 1975, which was the beginning of Eden-Monaro’s period as a bellwether seat. Whan was defeated in 1975 by Murray Sainsbury (LIB). Jim Snow (ALP) defeated Sainsbury in 1983, and he was defeated by Gary Nairn (LIB) in 1996.

Nairn became a Parliamentary Secretary in the final term of the Howard government and then served as Special Minister of State. Despite the seat being held by a government MP for so long, Nairn was the first member for Eden-Monaro to be a minister since John Perkins in the 1930s.

Nairn was defeated in 2007 by Mike Kelly (ALP), a former senior lawyer with the Australian Army.

Kelly was re-elected in 2010 but lost in 2013 to Liberal candidate Peter Hendy. Kelly returned to win the seat back in 2016, and was elected to a fourth term in 2019.


  • Matthew Statdmiller (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers)
  • James Jansson (Science)
  • Michael Balderstone (Help End Marijuana Prohibition)
  • James Holgate (Independent)
  • Trevor Hicks (Nationals)
  • Dean McCrae (Liberal Democrats)
  • Joy Angel (Sustainable Australia)
  • Kristy McBain (Labor)
  • Riccardo Bosi (Independent)
  • Karen Porter (Independent)
  • Cathy Griff (Greens)
  • Narelle Storey (Christian Democratic)
  • Jason Potter (Australian Federation Party)
  • Fiona Kotvojs (Liberal)

This is a very marginal electorate and is very much in play.

It is very unusual that oppositions lose seats to governments in by-elections, but the sample size gets much smaller when you look at super-marginal opposition seats.

Mike Kelly was clearly a popular local member with a substantial personal vote and Labor will be missing that vote.

There have been two major national events which have intervened since the last federal election. This electorate was hit hard by the bushfires early this year. Both the coastal and inland areas were hit hard, while bushfire smoke was severe in the areas around Canberra for an extended time.

The by-election will be undoubtedly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the parties judged on their response, and it will likely also affect how people vote in a seat which already has an above-average rate of pre-poll voting.

2019 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Mike Kelly Labor 38,878 39.2 -2.7
Fiona Kotvojs Liberal 36,732 37.0 -4.3
Pat McGinlay Greens 8,715 8.8 +1.2
Sophie Wade Nationals 6,899 7.0 +7.0
Chandra Singh United Australia 2,748 2.8 +2.8
David Sheldon Independent 2,247 2.3 +2.3
James Holgate Independent 1,883 1.9 +1.9
Thomas Harris Christian Democratic Party 1,157 1.2 -0.7
Informal 6,399 6.3

2019 two-party-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Mike Kelly Labor 50,472 50.9 -2.1
Fiona Kotvojs Liberal 48,787 49.1 +2.1

Booth breakdown

Booths in Eden-Monaro have been split into five parts. Polling places in the Queanbyean urban area have been grouped together, and the rest has been split between:

  • East – Bega Valley and Eurobodalla council areas
  • North – Queanbeyan-Palerang and Yass Valley council areas
  • South – Snowy Monaro council area
  • West – Snowy Valleys council area

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in three of these five areas, ranging from 52.5% in the north to 56.3% in Queanbeyan. The Liberal Party polled 52.3% in the west and 57% in the south.

Voter group ALP 2PP % Total votes % of votes
East 54.3 15,404 15.5
Queanbeyan 56.3 14,522 14.6
North 52.5 10,753 10.8
South 43.1 5,258 5.3
West 47.7 4,056 4.1
Other votes 46.5 8,210 8.3
Pre-poll 49.4 41,056 41.4

Two-party-preferred votes in Eden-Monaro at the 2019 federal election

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  1. The decision not to conduct mobile booths in nursing homes is probably a no choice option. However from
    My experience on mobile booths even neutral public service types are placed in difficult positions to ensure fair results. I would say that the mobile booths that I have been a part of ( once as an OIC and once as a scutineer) were conducted as fairly as possible but most of the voters were voting In a sort of replay of 1958
    Election. Polling Officials were allowed to offer some assistance and had How to Votes on hand if voters wanted them. The nursing home had done its best to remove most residents from the roll But still there were those who should not have been voting casting ballots.
    Postal Ballots I this situation are a recipe for party manipulation of ballot.

    Yes it is democratic to allow aged care residents to vote. If a patient has dementia should they have a vote? Who makes this decision?

  2. Ben
    I appreciate that is your rule and accept it is your site.
    However would you have listed Gough Whitlam in 1972 as ALP or as independent. In 1972 ALP was not a registered party.

    I appreciate that whatever policy you adopt there will be problems . In 1955 especially in Victoria there were two ALP groups. Ultimately court ruled that DLP group was real ALP but for some reason they permitted current ALP to take the name.
    However providing you are consistent in the application of your policy New Liberals have no right to complain. I would imagine AEC will refuse to register New Liberals due to similarity to Liberal Party name. No doubt this will be resolved in court.
    Consistency might require you to use the registered name of party which you chose not to do with Labour DLP .
    Ultimately I appreciate it is your site and you can do as you please . So bad luck Karen Porter.

    Good to see some candidate activity.

  3. Today’s weekend Australian has a good map of Division with some details of booth results. Quite good analysis of Local geography but no details about candidates.

    Probably because candidate info is not handed to Reporters on a plate they place in too hard a basket. I still think that Liberal Party will do well
    Booth figures are definitely very clustered with ALP dominating Queanbeyan and Coastal areas. Eden Monaro is certainly an interesting electorate.

  4. Andrew, there was no party registration in 1972. We have it now. I have chosen a blanket policy that I am not going to try and interpret the political affiliations of independents.

  5. As Andrew Jackson has rightly pointed out, New Liberal will likely be denied due to similarity with ‘Liberal.’
    The same should have happened in the case of Liberal Democrats. Whether intentional or not, the similarity is likely to disadvantage the Liberal Party by drawing ‘confusion’ votes.

  6. Party registration is an appropriate place to draw the line when deciding whether to list candidates as independent.

    If the standard was “what can be found on the internet”, groups could falsely claim an independent candidate as theirs (against the independent’s wishes). It would also unfairly benefit independents affiliated with unregistered parties by suggesting they belong to a party with a minimum of 500 members, when in fact they have a minimum of 100 supporters.

  7. Andrea
    Electoral Act prevents any use of word independent in Party names. Therefore British Political Party Independent Labour Party would not be able to be registered in Australia. DLP won its battle over use of Labor because it had existed since mid 1950’s and had contested every Federal election since that time. AEC wanted to de register party but High Court decoded otherwise.

    Electoral Act changes occur in nearly every Parliament. Trying to keep ones head around them is a very difficult task. Especially now that it is near impossible to get printed copies of legislation.

    Internet has up to date copy of Act but there is nothing like physically ammending the Act or Award or Regulation for keeping mind up to date.

  8. Andrew, I have complaints about the act, but the fact remains that if a candidate is not endorsed by a registered party, they will appear on the ballot as an independent.

    Not being able to include “independent” in a party name isn’t one of my complaints. That part of the act isn’t hindering The New Liberals’ registration, either.

  9. It’s not quite correct that the Electoral Act bans any use of “independent” in a party name. What it prohibits is any name that:

    ” (e) comprises the words “Independent Party” or comprises or contains the word “Independent” and:

    (i) the name, or an abbreviation or acronym of the name, of a recognised political party; or

    (ii) matter that so nearly resembles the name, or an abbreviation or acronym of the name, of a recognised political party that the matter is likely to be confused with or mistaken for that name or that abbreviation or acronym, as the case may be.”

    So for instance, “Australian Independents” was accepted as a party name, albeit a silly one. Andrew is correct that “Independent Labour Party” would not be accepted.

  10. If the party is not through Registration then Independent has to be written on the ballot paper. The New Liberal Party has registered and are on hold while this by-election takes place.

  11. Saw that I am not alone in predicting Lib win in Eden Monaro. Antony Green thinks it will be a once in a hundred year result. With a government winning a by election off opposition.

    All governments ( bar Vic) have done a good job in handling the COVID 19 virus. In Eden Monaro this will benefit Liberal candidate. I do not expect result to night but will be very surprised if my view at 2300 tonight is any different to now.

  12. Yes I think the Liberal will win in this NSW by-election.

    Andrew, Victoria’s government is doing a good job with corona virus but some bogans are letting the state down with a few dozen new cases. They are currently north and west of the picturesque Yarra River This is why the virus is mostly in the bogan suburbs. These are the people that rushed super markets and buy all the toilet paper a few months ago. Its important that every Australian learns English and visitors should also be able to read English. No English; no tourist stay. I am astounded that some immigrants who have been here for 30 years still speak little or no English. If you cant understand the corona messages it is a concern.


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