Joe McGirr, the Wagga byelection frontrunner, will be in a strong position to deliver, according to Tony Windsor.
Dr McGirr, an independent, is currently slightly behind the Liberals’ Julia Ham as counting in the byelection continues, but is expected to win after preferences are allocated.
Mr Windsor, a former high-profile independent state and federal MP, said the election of Dr McGirr would ensure Wagga was not ignored.
“In fact, it will be right at the front of the queue in terms of activities that will be going on,” he said.
“Obviously the major parties will want to win it back.
“It’s certainly a great opportunity for the people of that district to be heard and have their issues addressed.
“More than 50 per cent voted for someone outside a major party.
“That’s an incredible message.”
Political expert Christopher Sheil said Dr McGirr could find himself in an even more powerful position after the next general state election in March.
Dr Sheil, a senior research fellow at the University of NSW, agreed that being an independent seat would garner Wagga more attention.
“As an independent seat, Wagga can look forward to a lot more attention from the current state government,” he said.
“They will consider that to be their seat.
“Historically it has been, at least for six decades.”
But Dr Sheil said with speculation mounting about likely Liberals losses in the March election, the possibility of a minority government was looming, which would mean Dr McGirr could help decide which party formed government.
“It’s not a big ask for Labor to be able to pick up another six seats,” he said.
“They only need about a three per cent swing to become a minority government.
“In that case, the independent has a great deal of bargaining power because there is a whole lot of horse trading and deal making that goes on.”