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March 5, 2024

Voting guide to preferencing in the NSW lower house

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The NSW election, to be held on Saturday March 25, uses optional preferencing in both houses of parliament which means that many votes will be unwittingly exhausted and wasted.

Click here for our handy upper house voting guide.

Last week, The Echo covered the importance of continuing preferencing in the upper house (the Legislative Council), to ensure not only the party with majority support wins, but to give a chance to minor party and independent candidates.

Now, let’s turn to preferencing in the lower house (the Legislative Assembly).

There is little chance locally for minor party or independent party candidates to be elected to the lower house. Only the major parties, ie Labor, the Greens and the Liberal/Nationals Coalition, are likely to have successful candidates locally.

In the Ballina electorate (Byron and Ballina Shires), we elect a candidate to represent us in NSW Parliament.

The Greens’ Tamara Smith has held the seat for two terms, and has won with preferences from Labor and the minors.

If you do not preference properly, there is a chance the Nationals Party candidate could win, as the Nationals will almost certainly be ahead on the primary vote before preferences are counted.

Don’t Trash Your Vote!

Greens need prefs

So vote Greens, and preference Labor or vice-versa, if you do not want the Nationals to win. Conversely, if you want the Nationals to win, number them 1.

A vote for a minor party or independent can lead to your vote to being exhausted early, and not continuing in the count, if you do not preference.

Also, the Liberal-Nationals are a coalition of two parties, but act as one right-wing party, while the left-wing can only succeed by combining the Labor/Greens vote, using preferencing.

The value of your preference depends on where you vote. Tweed and Clarence electorates are safe Nationals Party seats, requiring large and unlikely swings to defeat the incumbent. So, even by preferencing all the various alternatives, the seats will be hard to change.

The Ballina scenario is repeated in the Lismore electorate, except there, Labor won the seat from the once secure Nationals in the last election.

Labor may only hold on this time with preferences, particularly from the Greens. There is a strong chance the Greens’ candidate, Adam Guise, could replace Labor, as only 321 Labor voters from 2019 would need to switch to Greens for them to win the seat.

And, like Ballina, it is necessary for the Labor/Greens vote to combine, using preferences, to beat the Nationals.

It’s worth noting that a left-wing progressive vote seems likely to increase in Lismore, as the electorate is dismayed by the NSW Liberal/Nationals government’s inaction after the 2022 floods.

Whether Labor’s Janelle Saffin will be seen by voters to have been effective will be tested on Saturday.

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  1. Tweed is a very winnable seat for Labor or Greens, it only requires every Labor, Greens, Animal Justice voter to preference their vote 1,2,3.
    The only hope the Nationals ever have to win it, is to beg people to just vote 1 Nationals and that is precisely what they are doing. Its all their pre-poll volunteers and “how to vote flyers” are saying!
    Your preference vote is the key to a change to better Govt! Don’t be deluded by the disinformation of a National party candidate, cuddling a koala for a contrived glossy photo op pamphlet!

    • It’s a free country you can vote for whom ever you like. But remember Germany was a free country as well and the world asked, “Where were all the good Germans, why didn’t they vote against the right. The good Germans were all voting for the left or anyone that wasn’t a right wing fascist. Think about it, thats if the media you watch allows you to think and doesn’t just tell you what to think?

  2. I am no psephologist but it is quite wrong to say: “There is a strong chance the Greens’ candidate, Adam Guise, could replace Labor, as only 321 Labor voters from 2019 would need to switch to Greens for them to win the seat.”

    Because I’m not a psephologist I read what Antony Green had to say regarding 2019: “[Lismore] was a three-way contest at the 2019 election, with Labor’s Janelle Saffin pipping the Greens for second place and going on to win on Green preferences. Had Labor finished third, its preferences flowed less strongly to the Greens and the Nationals would have had a narrow victory”

    So Guise could replace Saffin, but only if preferences flowed very differently to last time.

    There has also been a redistribution is the seat, regarding which Antony Green wrote: “[Lismore] Gains 2,000 electors in an area around Federal and Wilsons Creek from Ballina where the Greens recorded more than half the first preference vote. This lifts Lismore’s Labor margin versus the Nationals from 1.3% to an estimated 2.0%, but also narrows the gap between Labor and the Greens on first preferences. If the new boundaries resulted in the Greens passing Labor on first preferences, then the Nationals would hold Lismore with a 2.4% margin versus the Greens.”

    This redistribution also impacts negatively on Tamara Smith in Ballina although it is likely she’ll hold the seat.


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