New South Wales election: candidate details and seat prospects

Election preliminaries crank up a gear with the publication of candidate lists, revealing the growing footprint of minor parties of the right.

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.

Of note:

• 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.

Other news:

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.

New South Wales election minus three weeks

Both major parties still getting their houses in order on the candidate selection front with just days to go before the closure of nominations.

Roy Morgan added to a glut of recent New South Wales state polling on Friday, and while this one was recently conducted and not published a month after the event as per its recent form, it was conducted through the dubious means of SMS. The poll had Labor leading 52.5-47.5, from primary votes of Labor 33.5%, Coalition 32.5%, Greens 11% and One Nation 8.5%. Dominic Perrottet recorded a favourable split of 53-47 in an all-or-nothing personal approval question, but Chris Minns led 54-46 as preferred premier. The poll was conducted last Thursday to Tuesday from a sample of 981.

Further developments:

• The Liberals still don’t have a candidate in Kiama, which Gareth Ward hopes to retain as an independent after being dumped from the party. The Illawarra Star reported reopened nominations just days ago after the only nominee, local poet and author Gail Morgan, was rejected by the party’s candidate review committee. Morgan had told Nine News in 2021 that allegations against Gareth Ward that would eventually result in charges of indecent assault were a “stitch up”, and wrote an email to Chris Minns in which she said she would vote for him if he acted against over-development. The report quoted a Liberal source who suggested the party would run either half-heartedly or not at all against Ward, who retained strong local support and would be welcomed back into the party if acquitted.

• The Liberals have chosen Jacqui Munro, consultant for public relations agency Red Havas and president of the state party’s women’s council, to replace ousted incumbent Peter Poulos on the Legislative Council ticket. Munro won moderate faction endorsement for the position with support from deputy leader Matt Kean, again overlooking Shayne Mallard, who was dropped to help address the party’s gender balance problem, and Melanie Gibbons, who lost preselection in her lower house seat in Holsworthy and had been promised a position in the ministry by Dominic Perrottet. The state executive ratified Munro with 13 votes in favour, nine against and two abstentions, the closeness of the result reflecting objections over her history of progressive statements on social media.

• After a long delay, Labor has chosen David Saliba, a management consultant and former Australian Federal Police officer, as its candidate for the safe seat of Fairfield, which will be vacated with the retirement of Guy Zangari. Saliba was anointed by the party’s national executive ahead of Fairfield councillor Carmen Lazar. Saliba unsuccessfully challenged Zangari for preselection before the last election with backers including Chris Bowen, who holds the corresponding federal seat of McMahon.

• Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone continues to keep observers guessing as to whether he will submit a nomination form he says he has filled out for the seat of Cabramatta. The Daily Telegraph further reported a fortnight ago that Carbone might also be “running a candidate in the neighbouring seat of Fairfield”, without identifying who that might be.

• Steve Whan has been confirmed as Labor’s candidate for Monaro, which he held for the party from 2003 to 2011. Whan filled a vacancy in the Legislative Council after John Barilaro won the seat for the Nationals in 2011, which he relinquished in 2015 when making an unsuccessful first comeback bid in his old seat. The parties initial nominee, former NRL state-of-origin representative Terry Campese, announced his withdrawal in mid-February.

• The Liberals have endorsed Craig Chung, former Ryde and Sydney councillor and owner of an education business, to run in Kogarah against Chris Minns, who has been left with a non-existent margin after a Liberal swing in 2019 and an unfavourable redistribution.

NSW election: Poll Bludger guide and Resolve Strategic poll

Another New South Wales state poll defies Newspoll’s suggestion of a tightening race, as the Poll Bludger opens the curtains on its comprehensive state election guide.

Better than never, the Poll Bludger now brings you its guide to the March 25 New South Wales state election, containing the usual features: comprehensive written reviews of all 93 seats accompanied by tables, charts and interactive maps of booth result from the 2019 election; a guide to the Legislative Council; and a summary overview page. I regard it as still needing work to the extent that the “profile” sections on the seat pages do not yet offer the usual level of demographic and redistribution detail, and the Legislative Council page is wanting for candidate photos, though no doubt only a diehard follower of the site would be alert to such deficiencies. Margins and post-redistribution party votes are based on my own calculations, which partly explains the delay. For the most part, these differ very little from those calculated by Antony Green for the ABC.

We also have a new poll result courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald and Resolve Strategic, which apparently does not follow the normal practice of this series in producing state polls combined from two monthly national surveys. It is instead reported as encompassing 803 respondents from Wednesday to Sunday, and is thus no less timely than this week’s Newspoll and Freshwater Strategy polls. The results, however, are particularly encouraging for Labor, crediting them with a primary vote of 38% (up a point on two months ago) as compared with 32% for the Coalition (down two), 11% for the Greens (down one) and 13% for independents (up one). The pollster does not provide two-party preferred, but this would pan out to upwards of 56-44 in Labor’s favour based on preference flows in 2019. Dominic Perrottet nonetheless records a combined very good and rating of 45% compared with 40% for very poor and poor, respectively compared with 43% and 28% for Chris Minns. Perrottet retains a 38-34 lead as preferred premier, unchanged in margin from his 33-29 lead two months ago, reflecting a lower undecided rate.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor in NSW

Indications from two pollsters of a tightening contest in New South Wales.

The Australian brings us Newspoll voting intention results for New South Wales showing Labor’s lead at 52-48, which is notably narrower than other state polling of the last few months. The last state voting intention poll from Newspoll, in September, had it at 54-46. The primary votes are Coalition 37% (up two), Labor 36% (down four) and Greens 12% (steady). Dominic Perrottet is up three on approval to 50% and steady on on disapproval at 41%, while Chris Minns is down one to 41% and up six to 33%. Perrottet’s lead as preferred premier has widened from 39-35 to 43-33. The poll was conducted Monday to Thursday from a sample of 1014.

It so happens that a Roy Morgan poll this week also had it at 52-48, although this release continues the pollster’s odd habit of releasing its results long after the survey period, which in this case was in January. The primary votes were Coalition 35% (up one-and-a-half from December), Labor 32.5% (down one), Greens 9.5% (down two-and-a-half) and One Nation 6.5% (up two). The poll had a sample of 1147, with the precise survey dates not provided.

Stay tuned for my overdue state election guide, which will hopefully be along some time this week.

UPDATE (Freshwater Strategy): Now a Freshwater Strategy poll for the Financial Review has a slight narrowing in Labor’s two-party lead since its last poll in October, from 54-46 to 53-47. Both major parties are up two on the primary vote, Labor to 39% and the Coalition to 37%, with the Greens down one to 10% and independents steady on 5%. The poll records a striking turn in Dominic Perrottet’s on preferred premier, on which he now leads 46-34 after trailing 41-38 last time. There was apparently a further set of questions in which respondents were asked if they were considering voting for or could be persuaded to vote for the various political players in turn, which “showed the Liberals lifting 7 points, Labor steady and a stark collapse in support for Climate 200, which dropped 8 points to 31 per cent”. As usual, issue salience questions found the cost of living head and shoulders above other concerns. The poll was conducted Thursday to Saturday from a sample of 1247.

New South Wales election minus five weeks

Labor chooses a candidate for its safe seat of Cabramatta, as unanticipated vacancies emerge for the Liberals in the upper house and Labor in the seat of Monaro.

Three recent developments on the preselection and disendorsement front as the official campaign period comes into view:

• Canley Heights lawyer Tri Vo will be Labor’s candidate for Cabramatta, which will be vacated at the election with the retirement of Nick Lalich. Vo won a preselection vote on Saturday from a field that included Tu Le, whose earlier bid for the federal seat of Fowler was thwarted when the party’s national executive installed the ultimately unsuccessful Kristina Keneally. Alexi Demetriadi of the Daily Telegraph reports Vo won on the first round with 39 votes out of 61, against ten votes for Adrian Wong, staffer to former federal MP Chris Hayes, and six each for Le and Kate Hoang, state president of the Vietnamese Community in Australia.

• Liberal MLC Peter Poulos has been dropped from the party’s ticket after admitting to sharing nude images of party colleague Robyn Preston, who posed for Penthouse magazine in the 1980s. The incident occurred while Poulos was working as a political staffer before entering parliament in 2021. Michael Koziol of the Sydney Morning Herald reports the two leading to candidates to replace him on the ticket are incumbents who had hitherto been denied preselection: Melanie Gibbons, who lost the ballot for her existing seat of Holsworthy to Tina Ayyad, and Shayne Mallard, who was among those cast aside when the party addressed its gender equity issue by making room for three women to the ticket. Both share Poulos’s factional alignment with the moderates.

• Former NRL player Terry Campese announced his withdrawal as Labor’s candidate for Monaro on Friday, making unspecific complaints about media intrusiveness. This presumably referred to reports that he was “filmed at a raunchy sex-themed party dressed as a scantily clad police officer”, as reported by the Daily Telegraph.

New South Wales election minus seven weeks

Fresh news on independent candidates for the March 25 New South Wales state election, plus a rather less fresh poll result.

Roy Morgan had a rather dated New South Wales state poll this week that was conducted way back in December, showing Labor leading 55-45 on two-party preferred. However, both Labor and the Coalition were at a low ebb of 33.5% on the primary vote, with the Greens on 12% and One Nation 4.5%, leaving a further 16.5% scattered among independents and other minor parties. The poll was conducted by phone and online from a sample of 1446.

In other news, two notable independents have confirmed themselves as starters, though one seemingly has more promising prospects than the other:

• Northern Beaches mayor Michael Regan made his long-anticipated announcement that he will run in Wakehurst, which is being vacated by Health Minister Brad Hazzard. Regan has served locally as mayor since 2008, first for the old Warringah Council and then in Northern Beaches when it was created from a merger of Warringah, Pittwater and Manly in 2016. James O’Doherty of the Daily Telegraph wrote in November that Regan would be “favourite at unbackable odds” if he ran. The Liberal candidate is Toby Williams, RSL club director and electorate officer to Hazzard.

• Former Liberal Gareth Ward has announced he will seek re-election as an independent in his southern Illawarra seat of Kiama. Ward resigned from the ministry and the Liberal Party in May 2021 after identifying himself as the MP subject to an inquiry by the child abuse and sex crimes squad, and was suspended from parliament when charges were laid in March last year.

Resolve Strategic: Labor 37, Coalition 34, Greens 12 in NSW

A second poll in a week records Labor well ahead with three months to go until the New South Wales state election.

The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday brought us the second New South Wales state poll in a week, this one courtesy of Resolve Strategic. It shows Labor leading on the primary vote with 37% (down one on the last such poll in September and October) to the Coalition’s 34% (down one), with the Greens on 12% (up one), Shooters on 2% (up one), independents at 11% (up one) and others on 5% (steady). Dominic Perrottet’s lead as preferred premier nonetheless increases from 30-29 to 33-29. The poll recorded high levels of awareness about Perrottet’s Nazi costume confession (80%), his cashless gaming card proposal (two-thirds), Labor’s promise to remove stamp duty for first home buyers on properties of up to $800,000 (64%) and the Coalition’s promised $150 back-to-school vouchers (three-quarters), though none scored high as likely influences on vote choice. The report doesn’t provide specifics, but the poll presumably encompasses a sample of 1000 combined from both this month’s and last month’s monthly national surveys, as per the pollster’s usual practice.

This week’s Essential Research report also had state leadership ratings from its small sample of 300 New South Wales respondents, which has Dominic Perrottet at 47% approval and 36% disapproval and Chris Minns at 39% approval and 26% disapproval.

There is also fresh preselection news since the weekend post on the YouGov poll:

• The general secretary of Labor’s state branch, Right faction powerbroker Bob Nanva, will replace Khal Asfour on the Legislative Council ticket after he withdrew last week amid negative publicity over his expenses claims as mayor of Canterbury-Bankstown. Nanva will presumably take the seventh position on the ticket, to which Asfour was preselected at the party’s state confererence last September. Nanva has been general secretary since 2019, and needed to be granted an exemption from the national executive to bypass a rule barring general secretaries from preselection until they have served at least five years in the job.

• Canada Bay deputy mayor Stephanie Di Pasqua has bucked a recent trend in Liberal preselections by winning a ballot for Drummoyne with a clear majority in the first round amid a field of five candidates, three of them male. The seat will be vacated at the election by John Sidoti, a former Liberal who has been sitting as an independent since March 2021 amid an ICAC investigation into his property dealings, for whom Di Pasqua formerly worked as an electorate officer.

• A weekend Liberal preselection vote for the Northern Beaches seat of Wakehurst, to be vacated with the retirement of Brad Hazzard, was won by Toby Williams, RSL club director and electorate officer to Hazzard. Jim O’Rourke of the Daily Telegraph reports Williams won 70 votes against 49 for Wendy Finianos, owner of a boutique management consultancy.

• The Sydney Morning Herald reports NRL player Josh Mansour turned down an approach from the Liberal Party to run against Chris Minns in Kogarah. The Daily Telegraph reports the party’s candidate from 2019, tutoring business owner Scott Yung, has also been approached, but he is asking for another seat as a fallback option if he doesn’t win, which an unidentified Liberal source says he has no chance of getting.

New South Wales election minus three months

A bumper crop of New South Wales election news accumulated over the past month, much of it involving the Liberal Party’s ongoing struggles with representation of women.

Time for the monthly assembly of New South Wales state election news, starting with some none-too-timely opinion poll snippets before moving on to a meaty stew of preselection:

• Roy Morgan published a somewhat dated poll last week conducted at an unspecified time in November, encompassing a phone and online sample of 1234. It had Labor leading 52-48 from primary votes of Coalition 37%, Labor 35%, Greens 11.5% and One Nation 5%.

• On November 17, Max Maddison of The Australian reported that a statewide poll conducted for a “major industry group” that asked not to be identified had Labor on 40% of the primary vote, up from 33.3% at the 2019 election, and the Coalition at 37%, which entailed the Liberals holding steady from 32.0% while the Nationals tumbled from 9.6% to 4%. The Greens were on 9% and One Nation 6%, respectively compared with 9.6% and 1.1% (from a small number of seats contested in One Nation’s case). Chris Minns had 42% approval and 27% disapproval, while Domonic Perrottet was on 39% and 47%. The poll was conducted from a sample of 1000 from November 8 to 10.

• RedBridge has published polls conducted from September 23 to October 3 from seats with prospects for teal independents, from which the topline results suggested they were struggling to poll clear of Labor in Manly, North Shore, Pittwater and Wakehurst, but would be placed to take it right up to the Liberals at the final count if they could make it there. However, they also suggested independents were starting from too far behind in Lane Cove and the regional seat of Oxley. When it was put to respondents that the independents might bear comparison to Zali Steggall, Kylea Tink, Sophie Scamps and Caz Heise, they landed in first place on the primary vote in Manly and close to it everywhere else except Lane Cove.

Now to a thicket of Liberal preselection disputes, the recurring theme of which is gender balance:

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