Following the closure of nominations yesterday, today was the day candidates were announced and ballot paper draws conducted. My election guide has been updated accordingly with full candidate lists in ballot paper order on each electorate page, and I’ve also been very busy supplementing it with a few formerly missing bits: more candidate photos and bios, full results of by-elections in the five seats that have had them over the past term, and a fair bit of work on the Legislative Council guide now that I know exactly what’s going on there, which is always obscure until candidate details are published.
The number of candidates is little changed on last time: 562 in the lower house compared with 568, and 21 upper house groups compared with 20. One Nation and the Liberal Democrats are both running in 17 seats compared with 12 and 10 respectively last time; there are 68 lower house independents, up from 52; Animal Justice are down from 48 to 33; Shooters Fishers and Farmers are down from 25 to 20; and Sustainable Australia are up from 55 to 82. Notable absences this time are Keep Sydney Open, Australian Conservatives and the Christian Democrats, who respectively ran in 42, 19 and 18 lower house seats in 2019. New to the game are Legalise Cannabis with 23 lower house candidates and Informed Medical Options with 10, plus a couple of others.
• In the Legislative Council, the first two columns have gone to high-profile figures of the right, although neither are part of a registered party, which should put a crimp on their chances. In column A is a ticket headed by Lyle Shelton, high-profile former managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby and a leading figure in the campaign against same-sex marriage. Group B is a ticket headed by Craig Kelly, who remains the national director of the United Australia Party, which is not registered in New South Wales. A membership revolt against John Ruddick’s dumping as lead Liberal Democrats candidate evidently succeeded, as he heads the party’s ticket at Group J, one spot next to the Coalition at Group I. The party does quite a lot better when it is well to the left of the Liberals, and thus the first party with liberal in the name that most voters encounter. Labor are in group D, while the Greens and One Nation have both drawn short straws at groups Q and R on a ticket that extends to Group U. UPDATE: Antony Green points out that the Craig Kelly and Silvana Nile tickets, along with some lesser-known ones, have neglected to nominate 15 candidates, which means that while they will get their own column on the ballot paper, they will not have above-the-line boxes, so those wishing to vote for them will have to number candidates individually – presumably reducing their chances from little to none.
• A surprise late development has been the emergence of outgoing Holsworthy MP Melanie Gibbons as the Liberal candidate in Kiama, which will be defended by Liberal-turned-independent member Gareth Ward. The party’s candidate review committee last week rejected its only existing nominee the seat, Gail Morgan. Gibbons was defeated for preselection in her existing seat and repeatedly overlooked for a position on the Legislative Council ticket, despite Dominic Perrottet having promised her a position in the ministry when she was persuaded not to pursue the federal seat of Hughes. Perrottet says Gareth Ward’s suspension should continue as long as he faces sexual assault charges.
• Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone will not after all be running in Cabramatta, or backing another independent in Fairfield. As the Sydney Morning Herald’s CBD column noted this morning, Carbone finally came off the fence after Labor promised $115 million for an upgrade of Fairfield Hospital.
• Max Maddison of The Australian reported on Monday that an unidentified Liberal MP believed the party’s situation was “mirroring the federal election: holding up quite well in Sydney’s west but seeing significant swings across middle Sydney”. In particular, “the swing now appeared to be on in seats like Ryde, Parramatta and Oatley”, and pessimistic noises were further made about Penrith and East Hills in view of their narrow margins. A “senior Liberal minister” was quoted saying “Parramatta is dead”, adding credence to a report from Seven News on Sunday that the party’s internal polling pointed to a 10% swing, more than sufficient to account for a margin of 6.5%. Efforts to take back Coogee from Labor had been abandoned, and there was “a degree of risk” from teal independents in North Shore, Pittwater, Willoughby and Wakehurst, although Vaucluse candidate Kellie Sloane was “doing well and likely to be elected”.
• Antony Green has prepared a splendidly detailed file showing how candidates’ preferences flowed in each seat in 2019, based on the lower house ballot paper data which New South Wales uniquely provides.