Wagga Wagga by-election: September 8

A look at this Saturday’s state contested by-election in Wagga Wagga, which is being vacated under duress by Liberal member Daryl Maguire.

I have a guide up for Saturday’s New South Wales state by-election in Wagga Wagga, for which the Liberals are managing expectations ahead of an anticipated bad result. The by-election arises from the sudden career implosion of Daryl Maguire, after Independent Commission Against Corruption investigators recorded a phone call in which Maguire appeared to seek payments in lobbying for development applications on behalf of a Chinese developer. A ReachTEL poll result related here last week recorded an exodus from the Liberals to minor parties and independents, with independent Joe McGirr looming as the biggest threat. Gladys Berejiklian said last week a Liberal win would be “miraculous” in the circumstances, with existing fears further compounded by the Liberals’ federal leadership crisis. The Nationals contentiously bowed to Berejiklian’s demands not to field a candidate, a decision that was criticised last week by federal party leader Michael McCormack.

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.

38 comments on “Wagga Wagga by-election: September 8”

  1. Lately, NSW by-elections can be savage affairs for the governments. This has all the ingredients. Disgraced ex-MP, the Liberal government in both levels of government and strong independents. Will be watching this one closely.

  2. this seat is a liberal own goal. who wins depends upon the order of the votes for the majors, labor, liberal, ind and shooters… who could at best poll 10 to 20%…. the liberal primary will drop at least 20%… whilst the total vote of the majors will be 80%

  3. Joe McGirr FRACMA has a very strong NSW Labor heritage:
    Grandfather – Greg McGirr – ALP Minister for “Public health and Motherhood” in the 1920s. Very short and disputed leader of the NSW Labor Party until knifed and purged by Jack Lang. He then formed the Young Australia Party which never won an election

    Great Uncles:
    Jim McGirr – Labor Premier in the 50s
    Patrick McGirr – NSW Labor MLC for 30+ years

    On the other hand 1 of his cousins is a Tory member of the House of Lords and another was Edmund Bateman one of the great Medicare rip off artists

  4. I think the Liberals are just going to dodge a bullet here, and even being second on the ballot ahead of Independent McGirr may be the difference. As far as I understand their Coalition agreement, the Nationals could have run in this by-election, and they must be sorely regretting they didn’t. I think a Nationals candidate would have won easily, absorbing the anger at the departing Liberal member.

    If the Liberals lose, or go close, I am predicting Federal ramifications with Dutton gone by Sunday 9th.

    The Daily Advertiser in Wagga
    CDP’s byelection candidate Tom Arentz wants jobs for young people
    Maybe as au pairs?

    New polling shows the Wagga byelection is ‘way too close to call’
    William (or anyone) have you seen this polling?

  5. Antony Green presumably has it

    Polls are pretty rare for regional state electorates, but one poll has been conducted by ReachTEL, commissioned by the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party. The survey was carried out the same week as the Liberal leadership challenge in Canberra and reported in The Australian on 30 August. It showed a huge drop in Liberal support, the reported first preferences being Liberal 28%, Labor 22%, McGirr 17%, SFF 10%, Others 6% and Undecided 7%. These figures only add to 90%, which combined with the survey being undertaken at the worst possible time for the Liberal Party, makes interpretation of the results difficult.

  6. The Coalition agreement in NSW actually doesn’t allow three-cornered contests under any circumstances in state elections (and only very rarely federally), and there haven’t been any since 1999. I have no idea why the Nationals ever thought they should be allowed to contest this when the Liberals never even made noises about Cootamundra and Murray.

  7. I live in Wagga and can vouch for the fact that punters are very pissed off by Maquire’s behavior (he’s simply referred to as Dodgy Daryl) and even more pissed off at his initial insistence to dig his heels in and not budge from parliament, despite being caught with his hand jammed in the cookie jar.
    I work in a local timber mill where politics is rarely discussed. Dodgy Daryl is an object of widespread derision and scorn in the smoko room. He put his own interests, and damningly Sydney’s interests, ahead of Wagga’s best interests. Forget Dutton, Morrison et al. Dodgy Daryl has single handedly soiled the Liberal Party’s reputation in Wagga.
    Joe McGirr is well known, very well respected and untainted by politics.
    Nobody in Wagga had ever heard of Libs candidate Julia Ham before she was preselected. Tumut, Adelong and Batlow mountains dwelling residents may be familiar with her from her role in local government up in them there hills.
    Labor’s Dan Hayes (all 6 feet 6 inches of him) is fairly well known in Wagga through his role as a Wagga City councillor. He is generally well liked, a bit of a media tart and young.
    McGirr is in with a very decent chance of winning if he finishes second after the first count.
    The Libs will need to pad up as if they are facing the great Windes pace quartet of the 1970’s, such is the ferocious nature of the red hot anger hurling towards them from a generally very conservative electorate.
    Wagga peeps despise nothing more than being lied to and sold short by one of their own.

  8. Rocket
    A Nats candidate added to the mix would probably ensure a Lib win due to preference arrangements. The suburban areas of Wagga are dyed-in-the-wool, blue ribbon Liberal Party territory. Libs have held the seat since 1957.
    No Nats candidate has opened up the contest for McGirr.
    Maguire suffered a 5% swing against him in Wagga at the 2011 NSW Labor wipe-out state election (compared to a 14% statewide swing to the Libs) when McGirr was a relatively unknown candidate – scoring 30% on first preferences.
    McGirr is advocating a 1 vote only on HTVs. Labor, SFF, Greens and independent Paul Funnell have placed McGirr above Libs on HTVs.
    For certain it will go to preferences (and depend on exhaustion rate).
    I’d like to see Labor’s Dan Hayes win, but will vote tactically 1 McGirr-2 Labor to help see off the disintegrating, disengaged Liberal Party (I don’t even know any of McGirr’s policies, all I know is that he’s not a Lib… or Nat).
    Baseball bats are out.

  9. Factor in the usual swing against a fast-decaying state government at a byelection.
    Factor in deep-seated anger at Maguire’s sordid behaviour and his initial refusal to exit parliament.
    Factor in a well known and respected independent.
    Factor in Dutton’s recent silly buggers.
    It equates to sayonara Libs in beautiful Wagga Wagga.
    McGirr could possibly even finish on top after the first count.

  10. there will be a huge primary vote swing against the libs 20 to 30 %. when Mcgirr ran in the 2011 election he got 30% and the Alp vote was reduced to 10% so he was obviously taking at least half his votes from labor. In this election people have the option of voting 1 only and not expressing a preference. The liberals on 20 to 30% can expect very few preferences from any one. Also possible that people who don’t want the liberals can vote on a tactical basis.if they do then they need to extend their prefences amongst themselves.

  11. Dave, thanks for that summary. I didn’t realize about the Optional Preferential Voting – I was in working in Northern NSW in lead up to 2015 election and can’t even remember whether that was the case then. That could spell trouble for Liberals if enough people just do not put any number in their box.

    OPV reminds me of Aesop’s fable of the fox and the stork – it always seems to be started by a party thinking it will help their cause. Though sometimes circumstances change and it ends up hurting them. Queensland Labor – then LNP forming – comes to mind.

    Similar to compulsory voting – pushed by the conservative parties in Australia in the 1920s when they feared that lack of enthusiasm by their voters compared to Labor’s was an existential threat. Which is why I always have to laugh when conservative commentators or politicians push for non-compulsory voting (in the ‘secret’ hope that it would strongly favour their side!)

  12. For any by-election “die hards” out there who may have missed this posted by William on the main thread early this morning:

    Andrew Clennell in The Oz:

    The Berejiklian government is set for a shellacking in Saturday’s Wagga Wagga by-election, with late Liberal polling showing its primary vote has fallen to just 24 per cent — level pegging with Labor, with independent Joe McGirr on 22 per cent.

    The three-cornered contest should mean a comfortable win for either Dr McGirr or even Labor, given no non-government candidate is recommending preferencing Liberal candidate Julia Ham. The Liberal vote in the seat was at 27-28 per cent in party polling last week.

  13. liberal polling? is that real…..are they trying to scare liberal voters back?

    We really don’t know….; votes of first 4 except no one will poll over 30% and the total will be about 80%

  14. Watching closely from nearby Albury, where ScoMo and disciples went back to the future yesterday for the re-birth of the Liberal party (a truly immaculate affair). Interestingly, neither of the local State Liberal members were there, nor did the local branch use the opportunity to rush through pre-selection for a candidate to replace the retiring Albury member, Greg Aplin. Also, seeing that the entourage was already here, a quick rockstar visit to Wagga Wagga for some last-minute high-fives might have done the Liberal by-election chances some good (or maybe ScoMo thought Richmond winning was a better bet?). Such crazy times. Must ask some town locals if they know which PM they met…

  15. Gladys has virtually lived here in Wagga for the past few weeks. It hasn’t helped the Libs’ cause. Locals are angrily amused at the sudden cash splash on offer from Macquarie Street. Dollar Daryl had over 15 years to secure decent funding for local projects and badly needed infrastructure upgrades. The new Wagga hospital only came about because Maguire was given a run for his money by Dr Joe at the 2011 state election.
    The Libs have promised over $100 million worth of goodies as a bribe for votes. It’s apparent that decisions on funding promises have been made in Sydney, with no input from Wagga residents.
    Locals don’t want a conservatorium of music. Nor do they want a multi-story car park at Wagga hospital. Funding for bike paths is hard to swallow when roads are crumbling and downright dangerous to drive on (Inglewood Road that links Wagga’s expanding southern suburbs to the RAAF base, airport and the growing suburb of Forest Hill is a death trap).
    $100 million spent on roads would maybe see the Libs hold Wagga. But then again, the belief on the ground here in Wagga is that the Libs govern for, and are only interested in, far away Sydney. Dodgy Daryl proved that by allegedly seeking personal profit by pushing for residential development in the Sydney suburb of Campsie. Daryl was looking after his big smoke mates while forsaking his rural electorate.
    There is a growing societal and economic disconnect between regional centres and Sydney. The major parties are seemingly oblivious to this fact.
    There’s a truck load of reasons as to why the Libs are on the nose in Wagga.
    The core issue is neglect.
    As far as Wagga is concerned, the Liberal Party is about to pay a heavy price for cavorting with Sydney and neglecting a former friend.

  16. Mmm, maybe ScoMo thought his time was better spent supporting Richmond (it worked). I sort of understand citycentric political party HQs missing the mood, but local branches are eyes and ears on the ground. Hero-worshipping a member who doesn’t make a difference, or behaves badly, does no-one any good in the long run so maybe they need to rethink their role? I actually feel regional electorates are encouraged to stay as unengaged as possible, and that constituents are often considered an irritation. McGowan taking the federal seat of Indi from Mirabella two terms ago was a great example of a community pushing back against long term neglect and abuse. Both of our Liberal State members (and party branch members) had front row seats to this show, twice, but it hasn’t changed their mindset much at all. Political reporter Gabrielle Chan has just released a book on the subject, titled: “Rusted Off: Why Country Australia Is Fed-up.” She will be in Albury on the 22nd September at an author event being organised by Dymocks, which should be good.

  17. Currently at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Show, where the announcer has just welcomed everyone to “the Grong Grong Cake Show” (for real). Anything could happen today.

  18. So the local show is on in Wagga as well. Bonus!
    Reminds me of my childhood when there was a by-election between the Liberals and Nationals in my childhood town when the local show was on. The result was the polling booth was extremely busy and the next state election was very over staffed.

  19. I live in Forest Hill.
    People often ask, “where’s that”?
    I reply, “in between Gumly Gumly and Book Book, outside Wagga Wagga, down the road from Grong Grong”.
    The footy club with the best name in these parts is Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong, followed by Ashmont-Collingullie-Kapooka.

  20. Dave – looking on map, I have definitely driven through Forest Hill (and drive through Forest Hill in Melbourne often also!). One of my favourite footy team names is Devon-Welshpool- Won Wron-Woodside. Like many country teams they are the result of multiple mergers – they are called “The Allies”, or DWWWW, or I sometimes saw them referred to as 4WD or D4W. Unfortunately they have gone into recess this year. Happened before and they came back – but a common problem with numbers of players in rural areas.

  21. GhostWhoVotes
    ‏ @GhostWhoVotes
    3m3 minutes ago

    #WaggaWagga NSW By-election Primary Votes (25.4% counted): LIB 26.0 (-27.8) McGirr IND 25.8 (+25.8) ALP 22.4 (-5.7) Funnell IND 10.8 (+1.1) SFF 10.7 (+10.7) #nswpol #auspol

  22. The Liberal Party does love a three word slogan. Wonder how “Bush Blood Bath” (The Daily Telegraph front page) sits with them today?

  23. @Rocket Rocket – DWWWW have indeed gone into recess again, and may not come back this time.

    However, in their area – a new club called the Woodside & District Wildcats formed a few years ago and joined the NGFL, and are going ok. From memory they were disgruntled former DWWWW players who formed the new club to get away from the league which at that point required them to go as far as Phillip Island for a game of footy… NGFL the furthest they had to travel was maybe Briagolong or somewhere.

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