THE NSW government are underdogs to retain the seat of Upper Hunter at a byelection forced by the resignation of MP Michael Johnsen, according to Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
The seat, which has never been held by Labor, was held by Mr Johnsen for the Nationals at the last election with a 2.2 per cent margin.
He vacated the position on Wednesday after calls from both sides of politics for him to resign in the wake of allegations he raped a sex worker at a Blue Mountains lookout in 2019 and that he sent lewd text messages, including an offer to pay $1000 if a woman would come to his Parliament House office for sex, from Macquarie Street.
Mr Johnsen has denied the allegations, branding them "devastating, unfair and unfounded" in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
Labor leader Jodi McKay said earlier this week that Mr Johnsen's departure gave Upper Hunter voters "the chance to elect a new representative who has their interests at heart", while Ms Berejiklian said on Thursday that the poll was unlikely to go her way.
"I have no doubt we won't retain the seat," Ms Berejiklian said.
"If you look at the history of by-elections in NSW, there has been at least a double-digit swing against governments and certainly it would take more than a miracle for us to keep the seat.
"Of course we will try hard, but if you just look at the maths, on average, the swings against governments in by-election in the last 10 years since we have been in government have been between 10-15 per cent. I have very little confidence we will retain the seat, but that is not to say we won't put a strong case. We will put our best foot forward but the maths are against us."
Independent Joe McGirr clinched Wagga Wagga in the state's last byelection in 2018 to end 60 years of Coalition members in the wake of Daryl Maguire's resignation.
Nationals Steph Cooke and Austin Evans lost ground in Cootamundra and Murray respectively while holding their seats, while Labor's Stephen Bali clinched Blacktown. The Liberals did not run a candidate for the Sydney seat.