Related: Byelection rolling coverage
AN unprecedented swing to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers in the Orange state byelection looks set to deliver the party its first Lower House seat in NSW parliament.
People in the Central West electorate have vented their frustration at the incumbent Nationals party, which looks likely to lose control of the seat for the first time in 70 years, following a mammoth 35pc swing of votes against them.
The Nationals issued a statement tonight saying that despite the swing to the Shooters, voting was too close to call tonight the party would wait for voters’ preferences to be calculated.
The Shooters hold two Upper House seats, and with Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats hold the balance of power.
The party’s candidate in Orange, Phil Donato campaigned on anger in the electorate directed at the Coalition government’s local council amalgamation reform, as well as the greyhound racing ban – which was hastily overturned in the face of community opposition.
NSW Nationals’ candidate Scott Barrett, a former advisor to Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair, was expected to win the byelection in a close vote, which was triggered when incumbent MP Andrew Gee stood down from state parliament to contest the federal election earlier this year.
At 9pm on Saturday night, with 53.1pc of the enrolment counted, Mr Barrett had accumulated 30pc of the primary vote – down from 65pc when Mr Gee contested the 2015 state election.
Mr Donato had 26pc of the primary vote, meaning their preference deal with NSW Labor (whose primary support had dipped by 4.2pc to about 19pc) puts the Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers party in the driving seat.
Independent candidates Scott Munro and Kevin Duffy had 7.9pc and 6.5pc of the primary vote respectively, and support for The Greens had dropped slightly to a primary of 5.8pc.
Election analysts including the ABC’s guru Antony Green said only pre-polling and postal votes could save the seat for the Nationals, but it was unlikely.