Wagga Wagga state by-election, 2018

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A by-election was held in the New South Wales state electoral district of Wagga Wagga on 8 September 2018.[1] The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Daryl Maguire, a Liberal-turned-independent. Maguire resigned from Parliament the previous month after admitting to a corruption inquiry that he sought payment over a property deal.[2]

The day after the vote ABC election expert Antony Green predicted the by-election would be won by independent candidate Joe McGirr.[3] McGirr was later confirmed as the victorious candidate by the New South Wales Electoral Commission, winning 59.6% of the two-candidate preferred vote over Liberal candidate Julia Ham.[4] With a swing against the Liberal Party of more than 28%, the seat was lost by the party for the first time in 61 years.[5]

The by-election came two weeks after two federal Liberal leadership spills on 21 and 24 August, which resulted in the removal of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and was cited for the large drop in the Liberal primary vote.[6]


The Nationals elected not to field a candidate, following considerable debate between the two Coalition partners.[7] Although Wagga Wagga had been held by the Liberals without interruption since 1957, a number of Nationals believed Wagga Wagga was naturally a National seat.[8] It is located within an area that has long been considered National heartland, and is mostly served by the safe federal National seat of Riverina.

Candidates (in order they appear on ballot)[9]
Party Candidate Notes (not on ballot paper)[9]
  Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Seb McDonagh Former president of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service Oura brigade and an IT service desk administrator.
  Liberal Julia Ham An early childhood teacher and consultant who runs a specialist sheep farm and was elected to the Snowy Valleys Council at the 2017 local government elections.
  Independent Joe McGirr A doctor and associate dean with the University of Notre Dame; previously contested the seat in 2011 and recorded 30.6% of the vote.
  Greens Ray Goodlass Former councillor on the Wagga Wagga City Council from 2008-2012; previously contested this seat, the seat of Murray and the federal Division of Riverina.
  Christian Democrats Tom Arentz Has worked as a carpenter, builder, foreman, senior estimator and project manager.
  Independent Paul Funnell Former manager of an IGA supermarket, re-elected member of the Wagga Wagga City Council in 2016.
  Country Labor Dan Hayes A practising psychologist who was the Labor candidate for the seat at the 2015 state election and was elected to the Wagga Wagga City Council in 2016.


Wagga Wagga state by-election, 2018[10][11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Julia Ham 12,031 25.5 −28.3
Independent Joe McGirr 12,003 25.4 +25.4
Labor Dan Hayes 11,197 23.7 −4.4
Independent Paul Funnell 5,028 10.6 +0.9
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Seb McDonagh 4,682 9.9 +9.9
Greens Ray Goodlass 1,377 2.9 −2.1
Christian Democrats Tom Arentz 900 1.9 −0.4
Total formal votes 47,218 96.8 +0.0
Informal votes 1,561 3.2 −0.0
Turnout 48,779 88.3 −1.9
Two-party-preferred result
Labor Dan Hayes 18,495 50.1 +13.0
Liberal Julia Ham 18,389 49.9 −13.0
Two-candidate-preferred result
Independent Joe McGirr 23,001 59.6 +59.6
Liberal Julia Ham 15,570 40.4 −22.5
Independent gain from Liberal Swing N/A

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