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Australia: New South Wales holds four by-elections


Australia: New South Wales holds four by-elections

New South Wales by-elections
New South Wales by-elections – Photo: Sky New Australia

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) will hold four by-elections today.

Voters in Willoughby, Strathfield, Bega, and Monaro will pick new representatives to sit in the NSW Legislative Assembly. Today’s by-elections are a referendum on the state government’s popularity.

The elections were triggered after four representatives resigned in early October following a corruption scandal. Before the scandal, the incumbent Liberal-National coalition government was already losing popularity. The main issue in the campaign is COVID restrictions. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government recently declared it would reopen Australia’s borders for vaccinated travelers, a contentious issue given the country’s extensive lockdowns. As the NSW Liberal-National coalition government closely follows Morrison’s federal pandemic policies, today’s elections are a bellwether for Morrison’s party.

Expect voters in all regions to swing towards the opposition Labor party. Despite the Labor shift, they are unlikely to gain any seats. This is most likely not just a shift to punish corruption but a larger shift over discontent with the federal government. Shifts towards Labor among the electorate means Morrison’s government could possibly lose the federal election in May. Labor’s COVID policies will most likely increase investment in schools and elderly care to increase preparedness to combat COVID.

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