Wagga-style upset possible in Clarence electorate
THE stunning collapse of the vote for the NSW Government in the Wagga Wagga by-election has given hope to a local candidate there could be an upset here at the next state poll in March.
The Shooters, Farmers and Fishers' party candidate for Clarence, Steve Cansdell, said the result showed the main parties were on the nose with the electorate.
Mr Cansdell held Clarence for the National Party from 2003 until 2011, when he resigned after he admitted to falsifying a statutory declaration.
For the first time in 60 years the Wagga electorate hasn't voted Liberal after it was forced to the polls when the member of 19 years, Daryl Maguire, resigned under a corruption cloud.
It's almost certain Independent candidate Joe McGirr, a doctor and academic, will take the seat in an election that saw 30 per cent swings against the government across the electorate.
"There is not the corruption issue here that caused the resignation of Maguire," Mr Cansdell said.
"But you still have the issue of the chaos in the Liberal Party over the Federal leadership and an electorate that is disillusioned and turning away from the major parties.
"If it had just been the corruption thing, I think the Libs would have held the seat, but when you add in all the factors the momentum against the government set in."
But Clarence MP and the Nationals' freshly endorsed candidate for the seat, Chris Gulaptis, said the electorate punished the Liberals because of Mr Maguire's corruption and focus on himself rather than his electorate.
"That's what happens when members lose priority and focus more on themselves or their party rather than the electorate," he said.
Mr Gulaptis said this was also the case with the Federal Liberal Party, which staged its disastrous leadership change in the middle of the Wagga by-election campaign.
"Once again it's an example of politicians focusing on ideological interests rather than the national interest," Mr Gulaptis said.
"If good local members are doing what should be done and working for the interests of the electorate, they will be successful," he said.
He said the situation was different in the Clarence.
"Does the government deserve to be punished for spending billions of dollars on the highway, a long awaited second Grafton bridge or a new jail?" he said.
"I will have to leave that up to the voters, but in my mind the answer is no."