Gippsland South by-election: overview and live coverage

A quick run-through of today’s by-election to choose a successor to former Victorian Nationals leader Peter Ryan, in which the Nationals are being challenged by the Liberals but not Labor.

Live coverage

Midnight. No fewer than 10,291 pre-polls have been added to the count, together with the outstanding booths. This leaves the primary vote totals at 45.4% for the Nationals, 26.5% for the Liberals and 15.6% for the Greens.

8.10pm. Only two laggard booths are outstanding, with the Nationals on 45.1% and likely on my estimation to rise a little, the Liberals on 25.3%, and the Greens on 16.6%.

7.21pm. The Sale booths are in and they had the Nationals in the low forties and the Liberals in the low thirties. We seem to be looking at a Nationals vote of 47% with the Liberals in the upper twenties, and the Greens third on around 15%. There are 33 booths out of 46 in overall, with 13,500 votes counted.

7.10pm. Exactly half the 46 booths are now in, and I now have the projected Nationals primary vote up to 48.1%.

7.03pm. Sixteen booths now and 3339 counted. The raw Nationals vote is 50.2%, from which I make an 11.3% swing on a booth-matched basis for a projected total of 46.0%. The Liberals are 23.3% on the raw vote, but maybe that will increase when votes from Sale and Leongatha come in. Even so, there’s no reason to think the Nationals are in trouble.

6.48pm. The VEC preference throw is Nationals-versus-Greens, which is … not what I would have done.

6.45pm. I’ve now got the drop in the Nationals vote up to 14.3%, from which I’m projecting 43.1%. The Liberals are matching it with them in the larger centres, but the Nationals are polling over 70% in rural booths.

6.40pm. Five booths in on the primary vote, adding up to 649 counted, and the raw vote has the Nationals on 60.1%. I make that to be an 11.7% drop on November in these rural and heavily pro-Nationals booths, pointing to an overall result of 45.6%. With no reason to think preferences will favour the Liberals, that shouldn’t bother them unduly. The Liberals and Greens are so far matching it on around 16.5% of the primary vote, with nobody else registering.

6pm. Polls have closed. The electorate is peppered with very small booths that should conduct their counts very quickly, so we should start seeing results in little more than half an hour.


A minor Victorian state by-election is being held today in the seat of Gippsland South, which has been vacated after Peter Ryan, who led the Nationals during the period of the Baillieu-Napthine government, bowed out in the wake of the November election defeat. Labor has predictably given the by-election a miss, so the main point of interest is presumably whether a Liberal candidate gains any traction.

Gippsland South extends from Leongatha and Korumburra in the west to Sale in the east, encompassing a 200 kilometre stretch of coastline that includes Wilsons Promontory. It has existed without interruption since 1859, and has never been held by Labor. Sir Herbert Hyland first gained the seat for the Country Party in 1929, and retained it through an epic parliamentary tenure that ended with his death in 1970. It then fell to Liberal candidate James Taylor, who was defeated in 1973 and would later return as a member for the local upper house province. Neil McInnes then held the seat for the Country/National Party until he defected to the Liberals in 1980, for which he was rewarded with defeat at the next election in 1982. The Nationals have held the seat ever since, Peter Ryan succeeding Tom Wallace as member in 1992.

The Nationals candidate is Danny O’Brien, who has held a seat for the Eastern Victoria region in the Legislative Council since March last year, when he filled a casual vacancy created by the retirement of Peter Hall. He retained the seat at the election last November from second place on the joint Coalition ticket. O’Brien started his career as a journalist for WIN Television, and was later an adviser to the then federal Nationals leader, Mark Vaile, then chief-of-staff to Barnaby Joyce and Peter Ryan. The Liberal candidate is Scott Rosetti, described by the ABC as a “Wellington Shire councillor and high-profile Sale businessman”. Also in the field are four independents (Warren Sanders, Viv Pepper, Deb Meester and Gerard J. Donohue) and candidates of the Greens (Andrea Millsom) and the Liberal Democratic Party (Jim McDonald).

Considerably more detail is as always available courtesy of Antony Green. Live coverage of the count will be featured here from the close of polls at 6pm.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

16 comments on “Gippsland South by-election: overview and live coverage”

  1. Any idea which HTV Card the Greens are handing? They registered an open one, one that preferences the Libs and one that preferences the Nats. Nats should be safe either way, but this could impact the margin.

  2. Interesting to know where the Labor votes have gone. Only a relatively small proportion have gone to the Greens. Interesting to know whether they went to the Libs or the Nats or did they just stay at home?

  3. bbp –

    2014 was roughly Nat 57, ALP 22, Grn 10, Oth 11 – 94% turnout (38k)

    2015 – so far – Nat 45, Lib 25, Grn 17, Oth 13 – 60% turnout (24k)

    So I would say the most likely is the “non-voters” were more likely ALP supporters, and those who did vote probably split Grn/Lib.

    The interesting thing an Antony’s graph of TPP is where Gippsland South which trends with the statewide TPP – in 2002 Ryan got a swing towards him in Labor’s landslide win. I suppose this was after he had dissolved the formal “Coalition” with the Liberals which seems to have been a popular move in his own electorate.

    Also I suppose though he had been the member since 1992, he had only become the Nationals leader after the 1999 loss, so it is partly the “leadership/sophomore” surge.

  4. 4

    Also in 2002 there was a fresh redistribution which I believe gained some areas from the abolished seat of West Gippsland which had been held by independent Susan Davies at the 1999 election (who supported Bracks). So part of the swing would have been conservatives who had voted Susan Davies switching to Ryan once the option of Susan Davies was gone.

  5. Interesting looking at Danny O”Brein’s CV on the Vic Parliament website. The Daily Telegraph today was trumpeting how most NSW Labor candidates have never had a “real” job (because so many of them worked to better workers’ rights in the union movement before entering “political” jobs). So it is interesting that Danny has done mainly “political” jobs since the age of 26 when he became Peter Ryan’s chief of staff.

    Of course the media never see Coalition MPs in this light. It is blindingly obvious looking at his CV where he was tracking towards for most of his adult life. Good luck to him, I don’t think there is anything wrong with his career path, I just get frustrated sometimes with the media’s “skewed” vision on careers. Similarly how many “real” jobs did Tony Abbott have by their definition – even his short stint at the Bulletin was surely part of a long political path.

  6. [blackburnpseph
    Posted Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 9:08 pm | PERMALINK
    Interesting to know where the Labor votes have gone. Only a relatively small proportion have gone to the Greens. Interesting to know whether they went to the Libs or the Nats or did they just stay at home?]

    An article I read last week said a former Labor candidate was suggesting support for the Liberal candidate whom he knew.

  7. citizen @7, yes, Darren McCubbin, a Wellington shire councillor and former mayor who ran for Gippsland federally in the 2008 by-election and in 2010, endorsed Rossetti, with whom he serves on the council. He made a point of saying he was endorsing Rossetti and not the Libs, though.

  8. From February
    [Gippsland South by-election: Former Labor candidate to support Lib’s Scott Rossetti
    Kath Sullivan The Weekly Times
    February 26, 2015 10:29AM

    GIPPSLAND’S perennial Labor candidate says he’ll support Liberal candidate Scott Rossetti at next month’s Gippsland South by-election.

    Wellington Shire Councillor Darren McCubbin twice ran as a candidate with the ALP for the Federal seat of Gippsland, and is currently serving as secretary of the ALP Gippsland Central branch.

    “I’ll be putting Scott’s corflute in my front yard, absolutely,” Mr McCubbin said.

    “And, if I can, I’ll hand out how-to-vote cards for Scott.”

    The ALP confirmed on Monday it would not contest the by-election, which was brought about by former Nationals leader Peter Ryan’s February 2 retirement.

    Mr Ryan, who has held the safe Nationals seat for 23 years, won the seat in the November election with a 15.7 per cent margin.

    His former staffer and Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria in the Upper House, Danny O’Brien, will contest Gippsland South.

    It is the first time since 2006 that the Liberal Party has contested the seat.

    “I would 100 per cent support an ALP candidate if we had one, but we don’t, so in this campaign I’m supporting Scott,” said Mr McCubbin, who has served on the Wellington Shire Council with Rossetti for six years.

    “Scott’s more connected to the community (than other candidates).

    “He’s run a business here, he’s chaired the TAFE, he is a part of the community.

    “I’m happy to help him if I can.”

    Mr McCubbin said he was unsure how traditional Labor voters would vote on March 14, but he hoped the result would be close.

    “For Gippsland, wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was less than a 5 per cent margin,” he said.

    “It’ll give the conservatives a shake.

    “It’ll be a great contest and I hope (Rossetti) gets close — that would be fantastic.”

    Andrea Millsom, from Loch in South Gippsland, will contest the by-election for the Greens.]
    A local candidate for local people

  9. 10

    Turnout at regional by-elections is higher. This is because of various factors including the relative size of electorates versus the media markets (local papers and regional television and radio have a much greater proportion of their market in a single electorate than metro media) and that people in regional electorates tend to do more of their shopping, schooling, working and socialising within their electorate compared with metro electorates (because other electorates are, for most of area of the regional electorates, further away than other seats are from metro areas). This means that the regional electorates have more community opinion about their seat, more media attention to their seat and less escaping from seat specific advertising.

    It is also why regional electorates are more focused on the individual candidates.

  10. Having both the Liberals and the Nationals contest the seat would also have helped drum up interest because it decreased the certainty of the outcome. Forgone conclusions are a disincentive to turnout.

    The WA Senate by-election had, despite some people predicting a record low turnout, 88% turnout because it dominated the WA media, almost everybody knows what state they live in (unlike with the districts, another by-election low turnout factor that is lower in regional areas) and it was know to be a very important contest effecting the balance of power in the Senate.

  11. Agree with above that if you were a local it would be hard to escape noticing that a by election was on. I was down in South Gippsland last weekend and there were lots of signs for the Libs and Nats in evidence.

  12. ShowsOn

    Now that’s just being provocative! Knowing William’s reluctance to let his site publicly get involved in things so tame as US elections, I am sure that really would be a bridge too far.

    My prediction is that Netanyahu will lose ground – whether it is enough to make prospective coalition partners demand a new PM is hard to say. Always a very complex outcome.

  13. From VEC:

    Current 2CP between The Nationals and Liberal is 65.4% and 34.6%, respectively. Final figures available on Monday. #GippSthVotes

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