An important by-election for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of Upper Hunter will take place today.
The by-election was triggered by the resignation of the previous Nationals MP Michael Johnsen after he was placed under police investigation for sexually assaulting a sex worker. The NSW Liberal-National Coalition, led by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, currently governs in the minority after losing two other MPs due to separate probes. Thirteen candidates are contesting the election, with the two front-running candidates from the Nationals and Labour parties.
The future of coal mining is a key issue defining the campaign. While the Nationals promise coal mining will be a ‘forever’ major industry, Labour is promoting a balance between renewable energy and coal.
The Coalition is banking on Berejiklian’s popularity to win the seat, and their victory is likely given the latest polling. If the Coalition wins, it will not have a major impact on Berejiklian’s leadership prospects since her government still lack a seat to reclaim a majority. Additionally, the victory will not do much to address mounting pressures on the government to ensure the future of coal workers and communities when coal is not dominant in Upper Hunter.
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