Labor set for ‘ugly win’ in Eden-Monaro by-election as John Barilaro admits he was wrong

Labor’s Kristy McBain probably will win the Eden-Monaro by-election battle as Nationals leader John Barilaro concedes he was wrong to predict the seat would go directly to the Liberals. 

It is just a close contest with Liberal candidate rival Fiona Kotvojs, who was pipped at the last election by Labor’s Mike Kelly, who has retired as a result of health issues. 

With the majority of the vote counted, Ms McBain has a narrow lead of 50.85 per cent on projected preference flows while Dr Kotvojs is likely to take 49.15 percent, according to the Australian Electoral Commission on Sunday morning.

It comes as NSW state Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro admitted he was wrong for predicting a win for the coalition government on Saturday night.

‘I think the way in which it looks this morning, it takes a big effort but maybe Labor will hold on,’ he told Channel Seven’s Sunrise program. 

Labor’s Kristy McBain (left) is likely to win the Eden-Monaro by-election battle. Pictured with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese at Merimbula Primary School in Merimbula, NSW, Saturday, July 4

NSW state Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro admitted he was wrong after predicting a win for the coalition government on Saturday night

NSW state Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro admitted he was wrong after predicting a win for the coalition government on Saturday night 

Mr Barilaro's change of heart comes after he declared during a television appearance on Saturday night that he would have won the seat if he had chosen to run. Pictured with his family

 Mr Barilaro’s change of heart uses he declared during a tv appearance on Saturday night that he would have won the seat if he had opted for to run. Pictured with his family

Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon said it is an ‘ugly win’ for the party who isn’t ‘claiming the win yet’.

‘We have become cautious about that, but things are looking … good for us, and they will continue steadily to improve, I do believe, over the course of the total amount of the counting,’ he told the ABC.

‘It is a little an ugly win for us, I concede, nonetheless it is a win just the same. It was a hard election for us.’

Labor frontbencher Tony Burke told Sky New’s Sunday Agenda program he is ‘very hopeful’ Ms McBain would remove it. 

‘You’d certainly rather be in Kristy McBain’s position today than anybody else’s.’ 

Federal government frontbencher Angus Taylor declined to call the result at this time, saying having been involved in the NSW electorate since 1975 he knows all sorts of things sometimes happens.

‘But what is specific is that there surely is been a really strong swing in primary votes against Labor,’ he said on Sunday.

The primary swing against Labor considering that the last election was slightly below three percent, but the swing to the Liberals was a more modest 0.8 per cent. 

Coronavirus safety precautions meant the count was much slower than usual and many people lodged the votes before Saturday.

Ms McBain told supporters on Saturday night it was ok the results were still too close to call.

Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro Fiona Kotvojs votes at Jerrabomberra Public School polling station, north of Queanbeyan, NSW, Saturday, July 4

Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro Fiona Kotvojs votes at Jerrabomberra Public School polling station, north of Queanbeyan, NSW, Saturday, July 4 

Supporters wait for Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro Fiona Kotvojs at the post election function at the Royal Hotel in Queanbeyan, NSW

Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro Fiona Kotvojs votes at Jerrabomberra Public School polling station, north of Queanbeyan, NSW, Saturday, July 4

‘We said we wanted to ensure that we shone a spotlight on people in Eden-Monaro that were carrying it out really tough, and I do believe this election campaign we’ve definitely done that,’ she said.

Both candidates vowed to continue fighting for the folks in the southeast NSW seat that is battered by drought, summer’s bushfires and the coronavirus recession, regardless of the election outcome.

‘We have still got, in our community, a hardcore couple of years coming ahead,’ Dr Kotvojs said.

‘A government that gives leadership, a government that gives direction, a government that sets a base that supports people is what we are in need of.’

Ms McBain said her resolve would not fade when the spotlight on the spot did.

Volunteers wait for the results of the by-election for the seat of Eden-Monaro at the Labor party election function in Merimbula, NSW, Saturday, July 4

Volunteers wait for the results of the by-election for the seat of Eden-Monaro at the Labor party election function in Merimbula, NSW, Saturday, July 4

‘The lesson we have learnt from the Black Summer bushfires is that leadership matters. It matters whenever you show up plus it matters that you pay attention to people,’ she said.

About 38 percent of voters in the southeast New South Wales region went along to the polls early and their ballots are still being counted, while 15 percent made postal votes.  

Mr Barilaro’s change of heart uses he declared during a tv appearance on Saturday night that he would have won the seat if he had opted for to run. 

The deputy premier had initially declared he would contest for the seat but then backed out of the race early on. 

Appearing on Sky News on Saturday evening the NSW Deputy Premier was asked if he thought he might have won. 

‘I think so,’ Mr Barilaro replied. 

‘On the floor, I know I had wide support. I really could have had a chance at it,’ he said. 

VOTES COUNTED ON SUNDAY

EDEN-MONARO RESULTS AT ABOUT MIDDAY SUNDAY SATURDAY 

86 of 86 polling places returned 

88,031 (77.1% of enrolment) 

PRIMARY VOTE

LABOR – Kristy McBain – 36.18 per cent 

LIBERALS – Fiona Kotvojs – 37.78 per cent 

NATIONALS – Trevor Hicks – 6.62 per cent 

GREENS – Cathy Griff – 5.63 per cent 

SHOOTERS, FISHERS AND FARMERS – Matthew Stadtmiller – 5.42 per cent

HELP END MARIJUANA PROHIBITION – Michael Balderstone – 2.37 per cent

TWO-PARTY PREFERRED

LABOR 50.87 per cent 

LIBERALS 49.13 per cent 

Political commentators speculated Mr Barilaro declared he wouldn’t run after polling showed victory was perhaps not assured – some suggesting he would regroup his efforts for the next federal poll.  

Both major parties already are rehearsing their excuses whenever they lose the battle that is fought against the background of drought, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic in the past half a year. 

The by-election for the federal seat in the south eastern corner of NSW was triggered when respected Labor member Mike Kelly resigned from parliament as a result of health concerns.

A total of 114,000 voters will decide what is shaping up to be described as a test-run for a federal election with the seat seen as a bellwether electorate. 

Labor leader Anthony Albanese was attempting to claim underdog status in the lead-up. 

‘Eden-Monaro has always been held by the party in government, that’s one of the reasoned explanations why we are facing it in this by-election,’ Mr Albanese said at a Merimbula polling station where Ms McBain cast her vote on Saturday. 

Voters and party representatives interact outside Bungendore Public School on July 04 in Bungendore

Voters and party representatives interact outside Bungendore Public School on July 04 in Bungendore

The seat of Eden-Monaro was vacated when Labor MP Mike Kelly (pictured) retired for medical reasons

The seat of Eden-Monaro was vacated when Labor MP Mike Kelly (pictured) retired for medical reasons 

‘The only time that hasn’t happened is when Mike Kelly won the seat in 2016 and again a year ago.’

In contrast, Liberal backbencher Jason Falinski pointed to the real history of by-elections, where a government has not won a seat from the opposition in 100 years.

‘Obviously Labor will be feeling plenty of pressure today to make sure that they maintain this seat,’ he told ABC tv.

The vast electorate that surrounds the ACT has experienced drought, floods, bushfires and the coronavirus recession in recent months.

THE SEAT OF EDEN-MONARO 

Eden-Monaro in southern New South Wales was Australia’s bellwether seat from 1972 until 2016, when Labor’s Mike Kelly won back his old seat even though Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal-National Coalition government was narrowly re-elected. 

This electorate had voted for every winning side from Gough Whitlam to Tony Abbott.

If the Liberal Party’s Fiona Kotvojs prevails on Saturday against Labor’s Kristy McBain, it will be the very first time since 1920 that an authorities has won a seat from the Opposition at a by-election.  

In the election lead-up, Roy Morgan had the Liberal Party slight ahead of Labor in Eden-Monaro as Newspoll did.  

Eden-Monaro covers bushfire damaged areas of the NSW South Coast. 

‘Today is just a chance to send government an email that half a year on from bushfire we shouldn’t nevertheless be waiting for assistance, to be able to send an email that organizations need help, and they require a plan for the future,’ Ms McBain told reporters after casting her vote.

Ms Kotvojs said the electorate needs to be rebuilt after having a tough half a year.

‘So people need certainly to think about which of the candidates has the capacity to be a strong voice in government to supply, which of the candidates brings a breadth of skills to help you to deliver for this diverse electorate,’ she told reporters after casting her vote at a Jerrabomberra polling booth.

Nationals candidate Trevor Hicks hopes voters will appear past the slick campaign machines of the 2 major parties and vote for him instead.

‘It absolutely need somebody at this time to support them after the fires, after the COVID restrictions that we’ve had, and the drought which has affected so many farmers,’ Mr Hicks told Sky News.

The electoral commission has warned people it could take longer than usual to cast their vote as a result of coronavirus safety precautions.

Voting places may have hand sanitiser and social distancing measures in place, and people have already been asked to create their own pen or pencil. 

Scott Morrison said on Thursday employment was a major factor in the by-election.  

‘Right here, right now, it’s about jobs and jobs here in Eden-Monaro,’ he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

‘I need somebody here on a lawn … who will fight for those jobs and can storm in to my office and say, ‘The primary producers need this now, boss,’ or, ‘The timber millers need this’.’

NSW state ministers John Barilaro and Andrew Constance knocked each other out of contention at the start of the race, while in the final week Mr Barilaro, the deputy premier, has faced accusations he’s undermining the Liberals so he can have a definite tilt at the seat in 2022. 

Labor has accused the government of talking big in the lead-up to voters likely to the polls, especially concerning the bushfire recovery, but also about having poor follow-through in terms of delivering what individuals need.

Kristy McBain (pictured) is the local mayor for Bega and is the favourite to win the federal seat

Kristy McBain (pictured) is the local mayor for Bega and is the favourite to win the federal seat

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance (pictured with wife Jennifer) declared he would run before pulling out

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance (pictured with wife Jennifer) declared he would run before pulling out

‘This electorate doesn’t need someone who will just sit there and provide a tick to the us government, this electorate needs somebody who’ll speak up for them,’ Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said in the coastal town of Narooma on Friday.

‘We’ve been focused on the requirements of the folks of Eden-Monaro, we’ll remain so after polls close at six o’clock, when parliament resumes in August, when the budget comes down in October, for the duration of next year.’

Labor candidate Kristy McBain, a former mayor of Bega, rose to prominence advocating for her community throughout the summer’s bushfire crisis.

‘I have to get over the line here to ensure that I can amplify the voices of the folks that matter right now and that is the people which are feeling left out and forgotten in Eden-Monaro,’ she said.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the delivery of help to people in the spot really needed a voice in his government.

‘We absolutely need people with boots on the ground as part of my government to make sure that we’re delivering rather than sniping from the sidelines,’ he told the Sounds of the Mountains radio station on Friday.

‘I need my Liberal candidate to be the member for Eden-Monaro so we are able to make this rebuilding dream possible.’

Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs looked after her own residence near Cobargo from bushfires in January. 

One local woman from Cobargo famously refused to shake Prime Minister Scott Morrison's hand during the bushfire crises until he offered more support to volunteer firefighters

One nearby woman through Cobargo once refused to be able to shake Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s hands during the bushfire crises right up until he provided more help to you are not selected firefighters

THE EDEN-MONARO BY-ELECTION 

EDEN-MONARO BY-ELECTION

* To become held upon July some.

* There usually are 14 individuals contesting it.

KEY CANDIDATES

* Kristy McBain – Labor

* Fiona Kotvojs – Liberal

* Trevor Wicks – Nationals

* Cathy Griff – Greens

* Matthew Stadtmiller – Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

WHERE

* Electorate covers 41,617 sq km in southeast NSW surrounding the ACT. Major centres are Queanbeyan, Merimbula, Narooma, Bermagui, Bega, Eden, Cooma, Yass, Batlow and Tumut.

WHY

* Labor MP Mike Kelly has retired from parliament for health reasons.

HURDLES

* NSW Liberal minister Andrew Constance and NSW Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro initially jockeyed over potentially running for the seat. Both ended up withdrawing. Barilaro may contest the seat at the next federal poll.

* Electoral commission has made extra health arrangements to ensure the election does not spread COVID-19. This could delay a result in the count.

* Labor was hit by a scandal mid–election when the national executive was forced to intervene in Victoria over branch–stacking.

* Many voters are still living in tents or caravans following the devastating bushfires in addition to will use typically the political election to take wish very much the government on the slow rate of the recuperation.

LIKELY RESULT?

* Betting agencies possess Labor scratching over the collection. No competitors party offers lost the seat in a by-election to a ruling party prospect in 100 years.

 

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