New South Wales by-elections live

Live coverage of the count for the New South Wales state by-elections in Bega, Monaro, Strathfield and Willoughby.

Full display of results: Bega, Monaro, Strathfield and Willoughby.

Saturday, February 19

The Willoughby count has been updated with 9673 postals on the primary vote, and while these have leaned less heavily to the Liberals than postals did in 2019, they suggest Tim James’ lead is likely to widen from here rather than narrow. James has added 4357 primary votes, or 45.0% compared with 43.4% of all either votes, while Penn has gained 2651, or 27.4% compared with 32.2%.

End of Thursday

Counting has completed in Willoughby for what I expect will be all votes other than postals, leaving Tim James on 8365 (51.76%) to Larissa Penn’s 7797 (48.24%), with 2085 votes having exhausted. The total of 18,247 votes counted is put in the shade by the 25,071 postal votes that have now been received, which will be supplemented by a small number over the next week, counting of which will finally begin on Saturday.

End of Tuesday

I’m bumping this thread back to the top of the page because the NSWEC is conducting a new two-candidate preferred count in Willoughby between the actual leading candidates, Liberal Tim James and independent Larissa Penn, having conducted what proved to be a superfluous Liberal-versus-Greens count on the night. With results reported from 14 out of 24 booths, preferences are flowing heavily enough against the Liberals (10.2% to Liberal, 42.7% to independent and 47.1% exhausted) to perhaps make James nervous. The numbers are available at the NSWEC website – they are not being published to the media feed unfortunately, so my own results display doesn’t show them. James presently leads 51.4-48.6, which increases to 51.9-48.1 if the preference flow so far is projected across the yet-to-report booths.

That leaves, so far, 18,033 postal votes that have been received, which is more than the sum of the votes so far counted with many more still to arrive, none of which will be counted before the weekend. Ordinarily I would point to the fact that Gladys Berejiklian polled 66.5% of postals in 2019 compared with 57.6% of election day and pre-poll votes and deem the door still closed. But that was from a total of a mere 2269, in contrast to the present extraordinary circumstance where postal ballots were sent to every enrolled voter in the electorate. It may be that, as in the United States, that pool of postal voters, which is traditionally older and more conservative, is now dominated by those most concerned about COVID-19.

For more on the by-elections, below is a discussion between myself and Ben Raue which was recorded on Monday afternoon:

End of Saturday

Counting closed last night with quite a bit of the pre-poll vote still unreported – I’m unclear as to whether that will be finished off today or tomorrow. In the very unusual circumstances of these by-elections, there will then be very little to report for a full week, since counting of the unprecedentedly large number of postal votes will not start for another week, as was explained here. There may be a few other types of vote added to the count (absents, provisionals and telephone voting), but these will be few in number.

What we may see is a preference throw between the two leading candidates in Willoughby, Liberal candidate Tim James and independent Larissa Penn, to supersede the redundant count between the Liberals and the Greens that was conducted on the night. James leads by 43.5% to 32.2% on the primary vote, which as it stands might be dangerous for him under full preferential voting, but exhausted votes will result in a weaker flow to Penn. Besides, postal votes are likely to widen the gap, with Gladys Berejiklian having polled 66.5% on postals in 2019 compared with 57.6% on election day and pre-poll votes.

The headline-grabber is Labor’s win in Bega from a thumping swing of 14%, based on all election day votes and two out of six pre-poll booths. Michael Holland duly gains the seat formerly held for the Liberals by Andrew Constance, who will now run in Gilmore at the federal election. It was a better night for the Nationals, who have held Monaro against a 6.3% swing, with four of six pre-poll booths in together with the election day vote. This is a fairly creditable result, given they have held some of the 9.1% swing John Barilaro picked up at the 2019 election.

Labor appears to have held Strathfield with no substantial swing either way, leaving Jason Yat-Sen Li with a 4.4% lead based on all election day votes plus two out of three pre-poll booths. There’s presumably a good reason why no one is countenancing the possibility that the avalanche of outstanding postal votes might overturn this, but it’s very far from mathematically impossible. This would ordinarily be reckoned a soft result for an opposition party at a by-election: mitigating circumstances might include a particularly appealing Liberal candidate, the popularity of outgoing Labor member Jodi McKay, and the fact that independent Elizabeth Farrelly, who was recently a Labor council election candidate, polled nearly 10% and recommended an exhausted vote.

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.

393 comments on “New South Wales by-elections live”

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  1. Re B.S. Fairman at 11.21 pm

    The Nats chose their candidate 2 months before the Libs chose theirs in Bega, as soon as Porky jumped.

    Still there were some booths in Monaro with big swings, e.g. Bungendore, where the pre-poll swing at 13% is just above the Sat vote swing. There was a local factor in Bungendore, which was that Barilaro had supported a crazy decision to build a new high school on the only oval in the town. The new Council does not support that decision, so even though the Nats have retained Monaro, that oval might now be saved.

  2. sprocket_says:
    Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 9:15 pm
    Domicron has fallen into The Liar’s porky pies

    Labor did not go backwards in Strathfield

    Well! I don’t necessarily agree with you because IMO ALP needs to build up margins in Strathfield part of Reid electorate since other areas maybe Pro-Libs.

  3. Evening all. Just back from an evening with friends and catching up on the good news. At first I though one seat changing hands was no big deal, but understanding the margins and history of the seats, Labor making a gain from among these four seats is a very big deal. As others have said, the independent vote is also significant for the Teals prospects. I wonder if the five Liberal defectors in Canberra this week have internal polling?

    Pretty clearly the Libs distraction tactics have not worked. Voters suffering from covid, vaccine scarcity and now inflation aren’t going to forget their problems on polling day. No wonder Barnaby was ducking questions and there are no LNP MPs on Insiders tomorrow.

  4. At the risk of inviting Lieberal trolls to pile on, I have previously posted about media coverage about a week ago of Jason Y L making a sexist comment online about 20 years ago. Maybe that was a factor in a disappointing, although probably successful retain.

    The soft result in Strathfield may not contain any real seeds of hope for the Lieberals in Reid.

    Looks like an outstanding result in Bega and couldn’t have happened to a more deserving Lieberal leader!

  5. Re sprocket at 9.36 pm and pre-poll trends

    Correct, no big surprises in pre-poll swings. E.g. Narooma pre-poll at 13.5% swing to Labor is 4% lower than election day swing of 17.7%, a usual difference. For comparison, Dr Holland got 62.6% of today’s vote in Narooma and 56.7% of the pre-poll, while Kristy McBain got 51.3% of the 4 July vote in Narooma in 2020 and 48.9% of the pre-poll. McBain did well against the breeze, Holland did great with the wind.

  6. Granny Anny:

    Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 11:44 pm

    [‘Steely, I also have problems with revealing details of a MP’s private life, but Joyce is a special case.

    In the past he has made a point of emphasing his catholic and conservative family values while secretly breaking every family values rule in the book. He is a drunk, not very bright, a rorter, and an insult to the parliament.’]

    Pretty well sums up the double standards of this man. He reminds me of that shocker Patterson, who’s done more to ruin this country’s reputation than Greer:

  7. Ashleigh Raper. Well, Juanita, it was a mammoth task for Premier Perrottet to hold onto to Willoughby. It really is seen as prime Labor territory and the fact that Labor didn’t field a candidate made it all the more difficult for Premier Perrottet but, somehow, by the skin of his teeth he has pulled it off. What does this say about the fortunes and future of Labor in this state? I guess we wait but all signs are not looking good when a popular Premier is able to hold on to a seat like Willoughby in the absence of a Labor candidate. Back to you Juanita.

  8. Kevin Bonham:

    Sunday, February 13, 2022 at 12:06 am

    [‘A mixed bag, good and bad spots for both sides, overall not much to see here in my view.’]

    You don’t think, then, that Bega’s not an omen federally?

  9. ajmsays:
    Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 10:50 pm
    Is the result in Bega a portent for other regional areas? Lack of services etc finally starting to bite?

    Monaro is a bit different because of its proximity to Canberra but Bega strikes me of many regional electorates without good access to city based services. Perhaps the Nationals and rural Liberals should be getting worried

    Regional and Rural in NSW went through very very bad time in the last 26 months whether it Fires, Floods, Pandemic.
    Gladys held it together till Delta broke in. Now that she and Barilaro are gone, R&R don’t know much about current LNP leaders especially who are idealogically and religiously fundamentalists.
    It is like Minns Roti (Indian bread) fell into honey.

  10. Re Ven at 12.44 pm

    Most voters in Bega had seen more than enough of Perrottet even when he tried to keep away during the by-election, and the religious nuttery of ProMo in the past week reinforced that.

  11. Barnaby in the Tourist Hotel, the HQ for that Nationals celebration after the retention of the National held seat is an episode of “Barnaby in the Wild”.
    Barnaby , adorned in his working man’s khaki sheet , beer in hand, working the floor of the back slappin’, knock ’em down, Saturday evening after the races gathering to celebrate an expected victory.
    The live cross, the Speers high shot, the noise, a marvellous backdrop for the retail politician as he “reluctantly” held onto his earpiece during the raucous celebrations.
    Queanbeyan ever Labor, never mind in a oddly diverse electorate, as the “bucolic” smaller centres assure the Nationals victory despite another “caught with pants down” end to a political career.
    David Attenborough would be proud.
    “Overall” a good day out!

  12. Morrison understands the politics as well as anyone. He has the most to lose if there is a big swing against Dominic Perrottet’s Coalition government in the clutch of by-elections held across NSW on Saturday, or if Steve Marhsall’s South Australian Liberal government falls at the general election in March. Premiers always refer their own setbacks to head office, if the same party is in power federally. Even if they don’t so publicly, the federal backbenchers in the affected states will.

    As Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott can both attest, wipe-outs at the state level – namely in the Penrith byelection for Labor in 2010 and the Queensland general election for the LNP in 2015 – can become the catalyst for federal leadership turmoil.

    I also think those sitting Liberal MPs with teal independents running against them will have watched the Willoughby results with particular interest.

  13. Watching grabs of Perrottet’s comments last night it seems clear to me the Liberals are going to run with Sakr in Strathfield again next year.

  14. ABC News:
    Fiona Kotvojs says she will not concede defeat in the Bega by-election despite a double-digit swing against her and Premier Dominic Perrottet congratulating her Labor opponent.

  15. I dont think Perrottet understands like Morrison , If Perrottet still the leader of the NSW liberal party this time next year, that he will be the problem for the liberal party candidates.

  16. The NSW electoral commission are not going to count ANY postal votes, until the time for their receipt – 25 February – expires.

    What a crock of Perrotet! It gives the Kotvojs of this world another fortnight of not conceding, like she did in the previous losses of this climate science denier.

  17. There seems to be a massive crisis at the NSW EC. They have never been stellar when compared to their AEC colleagues and funding would no doubt be a significant factor but I am surprised that the state of the NSW EC is not getting more coverage given its importance to our democracy.

  18. Cannot wait (spew) for the analysis piece by Alexandra Smith of the Nine Paper about these results. No doubt silver lining for the Liberals.

  19. The delayed counting of postal votes and the like does seem at odds with computerized everything or the need for transparency and the “instant gratification” society.
    Barnaby didn’t wait till the 25th February to “get on the grog” at the “Tourist Hotel” after declaring himself a winner last night.
    The irony being that the pub is called the “Tourist” as it’s not known as one of Barnaby’s regular hangouts.

  20. Wranslide at 8.17am


    Her setting up of the Upper Hunter by election last year as a referendum on Jodi McKay was particularly biased.

    Then, when Jodi vacated the leadership, she was at fault for ‘plunging the party into crisis’!

  21. Who’s have thought that voters don’t forget when govt failures directly impact their daily lives? The gallery has been assuring us the electorate will forget the govt’s problems when the election rolls around.

    Not when the problems director affect their every day lives they won’t

  22. Could the seat of Aston be the canary in the coalmine on the night of the election with Alan Tudge determined to contest again? I hope Labor have a good candidate lined up there.

  23. Further to KB’s mixed bag take on these set of byelections.

    1. Labor – meaning Minns and Nanva – did themselves no favours by not even agreeing to run a candidate in Monaro until after Xmas. Any chance to capitalise in a once in a decade opportunity to take this seat off the Nats was squandered: a point I made back to Adam Searle – and he and most the caucus agreed with my view – back in October last year: unfortunately because of the politics of revenge, Adam has no sway with the current leadership or head office and therefore the folly of running dead until 2023 remained the group thought in Team Minns until it was too late. Ultimately that might have cost them the seat, but the Overalls are Queanbeyan royalty, so maybe not.

    2. Labor seems to have won 40% of the primary vote in Strathfield. Down 2-4% from 2019. However a high profile – somewhat Labor aligned independent syphoned off 9-10% of the total vote. The exhaust rate effectively killed off any meaningful 2PP swing. So I’m not sure at all there was any ‘mixed bag’ issues there. Especially for potential federal election implications. In the face of a pretty toxic and racist subterranean campaign Labor’s outsider candidate did well. It was a pleasing result for Labor.

    A 17% swing to Labor in Bega – especially the swings in the northern part of the electorate that overlap with Gilmore – augurs well for Labor to hold on to that seat at the federal election and for that matter, Eden Monaro. Extrapolating further it seems very doubtful that the coalition will be able to offset any loses in urban seats in regional area like the south coast or the Hunter.

  24. Re Gettysburg1863 at 8.52 am

    Constance is now a no hoper in Gilmore. Labor will still claim to be an underdog but that will be unbelievable to the informed. The first sizeable booth that came in was Constance’s own turf of Malua Bay with swing to Labor of 22%. Scale of swing in northern part of elecorate (N of Bodalla is in Gilmore) showed strength of Dr Holland as local candidate. Gilmore was touted as most likely Lib gain in May. No chance now, so question for LNP back benchers is how could Dutton be worse than ProMo? Perrottet did ProMo no favour by having by-elections on 12 Feb not 19 Feb. Time for spill.

  25. Important update from Ashleigh Raper of the ABC. Bega was never a particularly strong or safe Liberal seat and only held on personality of Constance. Is this a talking point regurgitated or her ABC analysis?

  26. Re sprocket at 7.47 am and Cat at 9.02 am

    Has Sportsbet paid out on a Kotvojs win yet? They could have run a book on when she would concede, but that might have required something other than their fake odds for who would win the seat.

    There was a lot of polling, almost all of it internal, in Bega and Monaro at least. Many insiders may have known the consistency of that polling in Bega, though it was never reported in any detail in the media.

  27. I am still waiting for the MSM opinionators and their Bludger fellow travelers to resile from their Albanese dissing and to admit that they were wRONg.
    Albanese had been doing Morrison slowly. This week he speeded up the slow burn and put the blow torch to Morrison’s belly.

    Bushfire should take a bow. He spotted Morrison’s employment pattern very early and predicted that Morrison would repeat as PM.

  28. Not getting any swing in a Sydney seat at least part of which was in the LGA areas of concern is anticlimactic for the ALP.

    But the bright side is that Minns now leads an increasingly talented team and, more broadly, people of ability want to be in NSW parliament – or at least the lower house.

  29. @shellbell, yes both candidates are excellent additions to the caucus.

    @andrew_earlwood I do not think anyone can blame Team Minns for not taking advice from Adam Searle or being extremely wary about it. As for the decision of Bingo Bob, well, I am not sure he made a decision really. There is also the cost. Labor HQ is not exactly flushed with funds statewide and the current leadership are not particularly effective fundraisers. The win for Labor in a few seats will give some hope of being competitive which should assist going forward.

  30. Re Wranslide at 12.14 am, 7.59 am and 10.18 am

    Some genuine questions, notwithstanding your midnight humour:

    What’s your problem with the NSW EC? They counted the votes cast yesterday without evident errors. They gave all electors a postal vote option (at least if the letters arrived), which was very sensible. The reason for the delay in counting postals is to preserve the integrity of the voting, which is paramount. The Electoral Commissioner pointed to funding inadequacy. This has not compromised the results. We have enough genuine crises around, without attempts at solutions. No need to invent fake ones.

    Do you agree with William’s description (10.37 pm last night) of the NSW optional preferential voting system as a “bastard”? There are some very serious issues here. Who fathered this bastard, and why?

    In terms of increasing seriousness there are at least three problems. First, it is inconvenient at best for selfless psephologists like William and Antony Green, making their judgments a little more tricky.

    Second, for Labor it has become a self-perpetuating own goal state-wide, apart from the idiocy of a candidate like Farrelly recommending to voters choosing her that they should not give a rats about who wins the seat (same applies to some other candidates, including Mr Haggar for Greens in Bega).

    Third, do proponents of optional preferential believe that voters whose votes exhaust understand the system? This could be checked, e.g. through an exercise in participatory democracy. It is most likely that the main reason for exhausted votes is that the voters do not understand rather than that they do not care who wins the seat. Those are the mutually exclusive options for this point. There is only one, pathetic and very sobering argument for optional preferential, which is that it reduces the informal vote. But this is unpersuasive empirically (e.g. informal rate in Bega at 2.8% is not much less than for Bass in 2021 Tasmanian election at 3.5%) and misguided socially because there are possible solutions such as basic education in the Australian preferential voting system (compared to UK) at school etc.

    Finally, Ashleigh Raper is wrong about Bega. Constance was not a strong member. He got only one big swing in five previous elections, during the 2011 landslide. One can forgive Ms Raper for tending a bit to believe Liberal nonsense more than Labor nonsense, given what a former Labor leader did to her.

    The reason why Labor won Bega well is that they ran a very good local campaign, after a slow start (Dr Holland was announced as their candidate just before Xmas, 2 months after Mrs Overall in Monaro.) Albo made a point of appearing in Moruya at a press conference with Dr Holland, Fiona Phillips and Kristy McBain. ProMo, Australia’s worst PM, did not bother, knowing he could only lose more votes.

  31. William
    A suggestion for future seat background summaries eg upcoming national election.
    It would be very helpful if the how to vote cards/preference listing for candidates could be shown on your individual electorate guides. Hard to chase up in many cases but PB contributors could probably be enlisted to do it for you. Similar for upper house (I think Antony Green usually tries to provides these)
    You have results for previous election for each seat and 2PP preferred for a few elections. Also perhaps a link to the penultimate result to give some history.

  32. It’s out! We waited with baited breath. But Alexandra Smith from the Nine Paper has released her analysis. And it’s a doozy. Labor just held on in Strathfield. Andrew Constance was vastly more popular than McKay. And it continues. These analysis pieces, must have been part of an annual performance review and development goal, are rather special

  33. Do you agree with William’s description (10.37 pm last night) of the NSW optional preferential voting system as a “bastard”?

    I’m in favour of OPV except when I’m writing code around it.

  34. I don’t think anyone in Labor State or Federal will see anything too problematic in Strathfield. You really have to be deliberately obtuse to miss Farrelly’s contribution which at this point looks like it’s knocked about three points off both Labor and Greens primaries and is likely to have exhausted a significant number of these votes.

    That dynamic simply can’t play out in the Federal Election. Even if Farrelly ran in Reid and again picked up 9% or so two thirds of which came right off the Labor and Greens PV it would largely end up right back in Labor’s 2PV. Under compulsory preferencing it looks pretty certain that at least on the votes we have counted so far that Labor would have picked up a percent or so swing. Nothing to write home about, but also nothing to sneeze at. It’s also worth noting that 54.4% is also the same margin McKay held at the end of election day counting in 2019 so it’s not unreasonable to assume there’s a good chance Li won’t also get back up to around 55% once all the rest are counted.

    That’s obviously not saying that Strathfield would be indicating Labor can have a huge amount of confidence in picking up Reid as opposed to how Bega and Monaro will give them a lot more comfort about retaining Gilmore and E-M. (All the Bega booths in Gilmore bar 1? showing solid Labor 2pp leads atm). But equally nothing here to indicate that if the tide really is going out on Morrison that Reid won’t go out with it. Either way Reid is likely to be close and hard fought.

  35. @ratsak don’t tell Alexandra Smith that. The state of the political commentariat in NSW is in a dire state. They whine about the NSW Obeid era. It might be time they all looked at themselves. They look worse than the ALP state government in its death throes under Rees and Kristina.

    To be fair, Andrew Clennel was probably the last journo that had any clout or nouse in the NSW gallery even if he did write for the terrograph.

    And to be fair perhaps Alex Mitchell.

  36. As of Monday evening, further counting in Strathfield has improved the ALP’s position. There is now a 0.5% swing on 2PP to the ALP, rather than a small swing against. Still a lackluster result for the ALP though.

    For what its worth, there has been no change in the betting markets odds for Reid-ALP are still favourites. But there has been a modest shift in the odds for Gilmore in the ALP’s favour.

  37. Some sense of likely postal vote trends in Bega can be guessed at by comparing Eden-Monaro in 2019, when Labor did not run a strong postal campaign, and the 2020 by-election, when it did.

    In 2019 Kotvojs got 57.1% of postals, whereas in 2020 she got 53.2%. In 2019 Kotvojs got 56% of the Merimbula pre-poll, whereas in 2020 she got 49.6%. She got 52.4% of the Sat vote in Merimbula this time, and 56% of the larger pre-poll.

    With all pre-polls now counted, the swing against Kotvojs is 12.3%. After all postals are counted it is highly unlikely that the swing will be less than 10%. By not conceding she is merely faking a Trump.

    The key issue in the by-election was said by the former member, Mr Constance, to be the need for improved health care. Reading the tea-leaves from this by-election, that issue helps Labor federally.

  38. Thanks Dr Doolittle. Those are interesting comparisons to give us some guidance.

    Might the fact that there are so many more postal votes than previously – apologies, I’m not sure of the estimated % but thought it could be as much as 30-40% of the total votes so possibly at least 50% more votes than the current totals so far – be the reason that Kotvojs is not conceding?

  39. Morning all. After further counting Willoughby is back in doubt. So much for the late counting helping the Libs.

    “ The ABC’s chief election analyst Antony Green said Mr James is currently ahead with 51.9 per cent of the vote with Larissa Penn on 48.1 per cent.

    Counting so far shows a swing of more than 19 per cent against the government.

    “The result has implications federally because a little independent with not much money has run the Liberal Party a tight race in a safe seat,” Mr Green said.”

    I’ll be amused to see how RW media explains this one away. On these numbers every inner city Liberal MP facing a Teal is in big trouble.

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