2018 Wagga Wagga state by-election

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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] The Liberal primary vote plunged more than 28%–a loss of almost half of their primary vote from 2015–resulting in the seat falling out of Liberal hands for the first time since 1957.[5] McGirr only trailed the Liberals by 28 votes on the first count, and was elected on Labor preferences.

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. The massive primary vote swing against the Liberals was put down to fallout from the spills.[6] The swing against the Liberals was actually large enough to make this long-standing conservative bastion a notional Labor seat in a "traditional" two-party-preferred contest between the Liberals and Labor for the first time in over 60 years.


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.


2018 Wagga Wagga by-election
Saturday 8 September [10][11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Julia Ham 12,031 25.5 −28.3
Independent Joe McGirr 12,003 25.4 +25.4
Country Labor Dan Hayes 11,197 23.7 −4.4
Independent Paul Funnell 5,028 10.6 +0.9
Shooters, Fishers, 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
Country 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wagga Wagga by-election set for Sept 8". News.com.au. 6 August 2018.
  2. ^ "NSW MP Daryl Maguire officially resigns after corruption scandal". SBS News. 3 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Wagga Wagga by-election: Antony Green calls it for Dr Joe McGirr". ABC News. 9 September 2018.
  4. ^ "McGirr officially declared Wagga winner". SBS News. 14 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Bye Bye Liberal Stronghold: Wagga Wagga Lost After 61 Years". Ten Daily. Network Ten. AAP. 9 September 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  6. ^ "NSW Govt bracing for Wagga Wagga loss". The Advocate. 7 September 2018.
  7. ^ "NSW Nationals elect to skip Wagga Wagga byelection". The Sydney Morning Herald. 27 July 2018.
  8. ^ Visentin, Lisa (16 July 2018). "'I won't resign': Disgraced MP Daryl Maguire refuses to quit after ICAC appearance". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  9. ^ a b "2018 Wagga Wagga state by-election". ABC Elections.
  10. ^ First Preference Votes Report Parliamentary Election: Wagga Wagga, NSWEC.
  11. ^ Distribution of Preferences Report Parliamentary Election: Wagga Wagga, NSWEC.

External links[edit]