5 March, 2023
Barwon the “hot seat” in NSW election coverage
In a rare moment in the political spotlight, Barwon has emerged as an election “hot seat”, with metropolitan media making the large electorate a focus of state election coverage.
Channel 10’s Lachlan Kennedy, recently spent time
filming incumbent independent Roy Butler MP in the
seat, while National’s candidate, Annette Turner has
been touring the region and attending several events
with high-profile Nationals, including former deputy
prime minister, Barnaby Joyce MP.
The Nationals have also ushered-out a flurry of
funding announcements across Barwon over the last
Meanwhile, Labor’s 2023 candidate, is Narrabribased
high school science teacher, Joshua Roberts–
Late last week, the NSW government surprised parliament
by issuing the pre-election shut-down notice for
Monday, February 27 — five days before the NSW
Legislative Assembly was due to go into caretaker mode
on March 3, four-weeks before the March 25 poll.
Upper house inquiries underway, however, will still
progress, despite the early shut-down.
With the state election now officially looming, candidates
have just over a week to nominate their intentions
to run for office. The 356,310 square kilometre
electorate of Barwon spans the top corner of NSW to the
Queensland and South Australian borders, and
down/across to Narrabri, Gilgandra, Condobolin, and
After 12-year sitting member, Kevin Humphries didn’t
contest the 2019 election of the NSW Legislative
Assembly — the Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers candidate,
Roy Butler won the long-standing National seat
with just shy of 33 per cent of the vote from Nationals’
candidate, and Gilgandra local, Andrew Schier, at 30
Labor’s Darriea Turley was in third at 20 per cent,
and another Gilgandra-local, Phil Naden, ran as an independent
— coming in fourth with five per cent.
This was the high-point for the Shooter’s Party, with
their candidate, Phil Donato having won the party’s first
lower house seat at the 2016 Orange by-election, followed
with the 2019 wins for Butler and Helen Dalton
(in the Murray electorate), delivering a promising three
seats for the self-styled “National Party alternate”.
However, this promise of change was short-lived,
with internal divisions seeing these three regional MPs,
now running-as incumbent independents at next
In March 2022, Ms Dalton left the party due to a disagreement
over party members not showing-up to vote
in the Legislative Council on a water usage bill.
December 2022, Mr Butler and Mr Donato followed
suit to the crossbenches, over comments made by the
Shooters’ Party leader, Robert Borsak about their former
colleague, Mrs Dalton.
Many Nationals members, not just the Barwon candidate
Mrs Turner, have been visible in the electorate for
months, upping support for the 2019 lost seat.
Sentiment for Mr Butler as an independent may still
be high, and his former party hasn’t yet announced a
replacement for the Barwon tilt.
Support for the local Barwon Labor candidate is
unknown at this stage, with NSW Labor announcing a
mixed bag of policy positions last week.
The coalition government, meanwhile, has been
plagued by personality and transparency issues over the
current term, with the resignation of the premier, Gladys
Berejiklian in 2021, and a number of unfinalised
inquiries into MP’s conduct, conflicts, and after-parliament
Incumbent premier, Dominic Perrottet, has also had
his own personal smear campaign to deal with — revelations
that he wore a Nazi uniform to his 21st birthday
Opinion polls released this week, are showing an
increase in support for the struggling Liberal-National
coalition — better than last month’s position — however
Labor is still in the lead in the two-party preferred
vote. Newspoll is reporting Mr Perrottet as “preferred
premier” by 43 points to 33 over the opposition leader,
The upcoming vote is the first post-COVID state
It will be interesting to see how the trials and tribulations of the pandemic, coupled with the now extremes in cost of living, play out at the polling booths.