A near-thirty-point swing against the government in a NSW state by-election over the weekend looks set to install an independent in a seat held by the Liberals since the 1950s.
In what Labor is describing as an “electoral earthquake”, independent Joe McGirr looks on track to take the state seat of Wagga Wagga — a stunning shift in voter support that is an ominous message for the Liberals ahead of state and federal elections next year.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian blamed the chaos among her party colleagues at federal level for the result.
“The infighting in Canberra was a huge concern and, when combined with the actions of a former member, it created an atmosphere where people’s cynicism with politics was off the charts,” she said. The previous MP, Daryl Maguire, resigned his seat in disgrace after being caught up in a corruption scandal.
“The timing of the by-election with coincided with other major political events that could not have been foreseen. It was the perfect storm, the disenchantment was doubled by obviously the actions of the former member, but also what happened at other levels of government,” Berijiklian said, referring to the replacement of Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister last month.
With a NSW state election due in March and a federal election expected in May next year, the result shows the Liberals have their work cut out to try and rebuild voter support.
The by-election disaster comes weeks after a surprise swing to Labor in the federal by-election for Longman and alongside a new national poll which would see the Coalition obliterated in an election if its results were replicated across the country.
The Newspoll published in The Australian shows Labor ahead 56-44 on a two-party preferred basis. Labor’s primary vote edged up one point to 42 per cent.
This would see the Coalition losing around 30 seats in an election.
Scott Morrison is marginally rated the preferred prime minister over Opposition Leader Bill Shorten by 42 to 36.
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