Wagga’s minor party candidates have taken heart in a poll that shows one-in-four NSW voters will not back Labor or the Coalition at the state election.
However, Charles Sturt University associate professor in political science Dominic O'Sullivan believes the poll suggests a bigger impact on Parliament’s upper house.
“Other than the Greens and One Nation, the other factors that are noteworthy are the rise of the Shooters party, which won a byelection in Orange and did very well in byelections in Murray and Cootamundra,” professor O’Sullivan said.
“Of course, what is different is that voters are more likely to cast a protest vote in byelections, especially when the byelection outcome is not going to change the government.
“In a general election, where one vote could change the government, I think voters tend to think about it more cautiously.”
Essential Research’s February poll found 9 per cent of voters across the state backed the Greens, 8 per cent backed One Nation and 9 per cent planned to vote for an independent or other minor party.
One Nation has not ruled in or out a run for Wagga but its lead upper house candidate Mark Latham visited the city last month.
Wagga MP Joe McGirr secured 25.42 per cent of the primary vote running as an independent in the September byelection, part of nearly 51 per cent who backed an independent or minor party candidate.
Wagga Australian Conservatives candidate Colin Taggart made a direct pitch to Liberal voters, who will not have their own candidate, during a forum last week.
“I do believe that people are moving away and looking at minor parties,” Mr Taggart said.
“I think that is a trend; people are disillusioned and they are looking for alternatives.”
Wagga Greens candidate Ray Goodlass said his party had a track record of staying in parliament for many years and was in a good position due to issues like the Murray Darling Basin and NSW’s drought.
“The major parties tend to play to what they call the ‘sensible centre’ and that means that they don’t really take a firm alternative position on anything,” he said.
“They end up essentially being the same and people realise that.”
Shooters, Farmers and Fishers candidate Seb McDonagh said people were starting to see that the major parties “weren’t working for regional areas”.
“In the byelection, we took votes from Labor as well as having our own supporters,” he said.
“In this election, we will increase our vote because I’m now more well-known in the community.”
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