Registrations to nominate to run in the NSW state election closed yesterday, Wednesday, 8 March, for anyone wanting to compete for votes in the 25 March election.
Most pundits are predicting a ‘vanilla victory’ for the state’s Labor opposition after a tumultuous twelve years of coalition-led governance.
State political analysts say a minority government is likely, with more elected parliamentarians sitting on the crossbench and forcing whichever party wins the most votes to negotiate more over new laws.
The coalition government lost majority control over the state’s upper house (legislative council) during its most recent term and there haven’t been any obvious signs of a strong comeback so far in the campaign.
Instead, commentators say the lower house (legislative assembly) is also likely to be more diverse in terms of its political affiliations.
Voting loyalty on the Northern Rivers tested
The story on the Northern Rivers is particularly interesting, given the three main electorates on the far North Coast represent strong support for the incumbent Nationals, Labor in the seat of Lismore and The Greens in the seat of Ballina. The seat of Tweed is currently held by longstanding Nationals member Geoff Provest.
The two progressive wins have happened upon retirement of long-serving popular Nationals’ members, suggesting regional voting loyalty depends on more than party branding and even, dare we say, so-called ‘pork-barrelling’.
Slightly further south in the Clarence electorate, Chris Gulaptis for The Nationals has announced his retirement, creating another opportunity for the party to test its contemporary relevance on the Northern Rivers.
Back in Ballina, his counterpart, newcomer Josh Booyens, is running against incumbent Tamara Smith (The Greens) while Geoff Provest is again representing The Nationals in the Tweed electorate.
Labor’s Janelle Saffin won the 2019 election in Lismore from The Nationals when Thomas George retired after twenty years of service, reflecting a similar change in Ballina where Ms Smith took the seat from retiring Nationals’ member Don Page.
Ms Saffin has used her high profile as the region struggles to recover from last year’s floods and landsides disasters to help Labor’s Ballina candidate, Andrew Broadley, in his campaign.
Ballina independent says climate change a ‘scam’, accounts of First Nations massacres ‘fiction’
Ms Smith faces competition from three newcomers: Mr Booyens (Nationals), Mr Broadley (Labor) and Independent, Kevin Loughrey.
Mr Loughrey is focusing mostly on electricity prices, saying he will try to decrease them.
He has also publicly referred to both climate change and the ongoing pandemic as scams; says he wants to see many more dams built throughout the Northern Rivers, including the Dunoon Dam; and that historical Australian government policies on the treatment of First Nations peoples were ‘benign’.
Mr Loughrey denies accounts of massacres of First Nations peoples in Australia, describing them as ‘fiction’.
You can hear his controversial statements via Bay FM’s Community Newsroom program aired last week – trigger warnings, especially for First Nations people and allies, apply.
Ballina: meet the candidates in Byron Theatre, 15 March
All voters need to preference candidates themselves regardless of how candidates might suggest ranking one another, so have you worked out the order of your votes?
To help you make an informed choice, your local independent media, Bay FM 99.9 and The Echo, are again hosting Ballina: Meet the Candidates, on 15 March in the Byron Theatre from 6pm.
This free, live-broadcast event is a chance for you to hear from each candidate as they introduce themselves and answer questions from the public.
Please email [email protected] with your full name, which town or village you live in within the Ballina electorate, and the group or interest you represent, if you would like a chance to ask a question live – no guarantees, as time is limited and a diversity of topics related to state policies is to feature.
Tickets are available via Byron Theatre.