Recent events – NSW 2015

Barry O’Farrell led the Liberal/National coalition to victory at the 2011 election, winning a huge majority in the Legislative Assembly: 69 out of 93 seats.

Over the last term, there have been seven by-elections for NSW seats. The first took place in Clarence in 2011. Steve Cansdell resigned in September 2011, and the November by-election was comfortably won by the Nationals’ Chris Gulaptis, despite a 16% swing to Labor.

In June 2012, former premier Kristina Keneally announced her resignation from her seat of Heffron. The August 2012 by-election was comfortably won by Labor candidate Ron Hoenig.

In 2012, the Parliament passed legislation prohibiting state MPs from running for council. While numerous MPs were sitting councillors, only Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney and local member, planned to run for re-election for council.

After winning re-election as Lord Mayor in September 2012, Moore resigned from Parliament, triggering the Sydney by-election. This by-election was won by independent candidate Alex Greenwich, who was endorsed by Clover Moore.

Independent MP Richard Torbay, who had served as Speaker during the previous Labor government, had been preselected as the Nationals candidate to run for the federal seat of New England in 2012.

In early 2013, the Nationals disendorsed Torbay as their New England candidate, and referred information regarding Torbay to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). Torbay resigned from his state seat of Northern Tablelands shortly afterwards.

The 2013 Northern Tablelands by-election was won by Nationals candidate Adam Marshall. This was the fourth by-election of this term, but the first to change the party balance in the Legislative Assembly. Despite running as a federal Nationals candidate, Torbay had continued to sit as an independent in the state Parliament, but Marshall’s election gave the Coalition their 70th seat, with only 3 crossbenchers and 20 Labor MPs.

In August 2013, Graham Annesley resigned from the ministry and from Miranda. Annesley, a former NRL executive, had been elected in Miranda in 2011 and had been appointed as Minister for Sport. Annesley resigned in 2013 to take over the Gold Coast Titans NRL team.

Labor ran Barry Collier for the Miranda by-election. Collier had held Miranda for twelve years until his retirement in 2011, when Annesley won with a massive swing. Another huge swing back saw Collier regain Miranda for Labor, giving them their 21st seat.

In April 2014, Barry O’Farrell was called before an ICAC investigation into a company called Australian Water Holdings (AWH). O’Farrell was accused of having received an expensive bottle of wine from AWH executive Nick Di Girolamo, but O’Farrell denied those accusations. Later that night, O’Farrell was informed of the existence of a handwritten note thanking Di Girolamo for the bottle. O’Farrell resigned as Premier and Liberal leader the following day.

Following O’Farrell’s shock resignation, NSW Treasurer Mike Baird was elected Liberal leader and Premier, with Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian elected as deputy leader.

The Liberal Party suffered further problems at ICAC throughout 2011. All up, eight Liberal MLAs and two Liberal MLCs left the party to sit on the crossbench throughout the year, with most of these resignations due to allegations of donations being received by these candidates by Jeff McCloy. McCloy was then Lord Mayor of Newcastle and a property developer, and thus was prohibited from giving donations, yet he had donated to a number of Liberal candidates prior to his election as Lord Mayor and prior to the 2011 state election.

In the end, McCloy resigned as Lord Mayor, and Liberal MPs Tim Owen and Andrew Cornwell resigned their Hunter seats of Newcastle and Charlestown. All three subsequent by-elections were won by Labor.

In October 2014, Andrew Stoner stepped down as Deputy Premier and leader of the Nationals, after eleven years as leader of the party and over three years as Deputy Premier. The leadership was won by Troy Grant, who had won the seat of Dubbo in 2011.

In December 2014, it was revealed that Opposition Leader John Robertson had previously written a letter for Man Haron Monis, who had gone on to cause the Sydney seige, which resulted in the deaths of two hostages. Robertson ended up resigning as Labor leader on 23 December. In early January 2015, Luke Foley, a Labor member of the upper house, was elected as the party’s new leader. Foley was also preselected as the Labor candidate for the seat of Auburn.