When do I vote?
Booths are open from 8am to 6pm on Saturday.
Why is there a by-election?
Former Upper Hunter Nationals MP Michael Johnsen resigned from Parliament in March over allegations he was sending lewd messages to a sex worker during question time.
What's at stake?
The Berejiklian government is already in minority after Johnsen left and two ministers, John Sidoti and Gareth Ward, moved to the crossbench with clouds over their political futures. Losing Upper Hunter would leave the Coalition more reliant on independent and minor-party support in Parliament.
How has Upper Hunter voted before?
The Nationals, or their Country Party antecedents, have never lost Upper Hunter, stretching back to 1950, but the seat has been marginal since George Souris retired before the 2015 election.
Meet the candidates (in ballot order)
Kirsty O'Connell (Independent)
Place of residence: Aberdeen
Work/family background: I'm a fifth-generation Upper Hunter farmer and I've spent my 25-year professional career listening to communities, first as a community journalist and more recently as an advocate for communities while delivering more than $17 billion in major infrastructure projects.
Pitch: I will be a strong, independent voice for the Upper Hunter who checks my policies with local people, not with city-based political parties. I'm offering voters the chance to have the bargaining power we deserve, to have a sensible plan for our future as the world moves away from coal, to have a representative who will ensure that we act now to grow local jobs, to diversify our economy and to secure a fair share of coal royalties to invest in the infrastructure and services that make our lives better. I won't sell out local people in favour of multinational mining companies - I'll hold them to account.
Archie Lea (Independent)
Place of residence: Dungog
Work/family background: Worked in a painting business with my dad. Born and bred in Muswellbrook.
Pitch: Definitely did not want to be a candidate but God had other ideas, in Jesus Christ's name. That's right, I am a born-again Christian and here to serve both God and the people of the Upper Hunter in Jesus Christ's name. Currently residing in Dungog, where the roads are garbage. The people here are good, hard-working farmers and tradesmen and women and have paid taxes and rates and got nothing back for their taxes and rates. And, if you don't know, the roads here are dangerous. If you don't know the roads around here, don't drive on them. That is another reason why yours truly is running. And to serve the people in this region. To serve both God and man. Amen and amen.
Eva Pears (Liberal Democrats)
Place of residence: Newcastle
Work/family background: High school teacher/private tutor.
Pitch: There is no doubt that both the Liberal/National Coalition and the Labor/Greens alliance seek to end mining jobs in the region. Matt Kean, the NSW energy minister, wants to have net zero emissions by 2050. That means the mining jobs, and the many interconnected local industries in the area, will be decimated. This sort of economic reset is not viable. If elected to Parliament as the member for Upper Hunter, I will: hold an independent inquiry into the Ruby Princess debacle to determine who is at fault for locking down the regions; hold an independent inquiry into council grant rorts; introduce a Bill to completely abolish stamp duty on property and vehicles and provide an exemption on registration fees for the amount paid in stamp duty; introduce a Bill to abolish payroll tax; oppose any and all Liberal/National Coalition and Labor/Greens alliance job-killing legislation.
Dale McNamara (Pauline Hanson's One Nation)
Place of residence: Singleton
Work/family background: Early life defined by loss of mother and the struggle that Dad faced as a single parent. Started working life in a dairy, moved into mining. Now a farmer and cattle breeder, company director and businessman.
Pitch: For 90 years the major parties have taken this electorate for granted. They have accepted the wealth that the Upper Hunter generates but have given little back to the people. This will change if I am elected on May 22. I will fight for the yearly return of $1 billion in coal mining royalties that we currently miss out on. The royalty money will be used to ensure that the Upper Hunter receives world-class infrastructure, facilities, and services: everything that Sydney enjoys. One Nation has also pledged to build a new clean coal-fired power station ("Bayswater 2") to guarantee our energy security and lower electricity prices. The Libs/Nats and Labor/Greens have all voted against this. One Nation is unashamedly pro-manufacturing and mining jobs. And we always will be.
Dave Layzell (Nationals)
Place of residence: Clarence Town
Work/family background: I'm a father of four and work as a construction manager.
Pitch: I've been privileged to meet a lot of great people over the past six weeks, and it has been humbling to see the support being offered for the NSW government by the community. As I've travelled around the region I've listened to locals and asked them what they think a safer, stronger future looks like, and I would be honoured to be their representative in Parliament as we rebuild our economy and deliver the roads, hospitals, bypasses and job opportunities the Upper Hunter deserves. If elected, I will be part of a sensible, stable government that has kept our state on track over the past 12 months with the ability to deliver on the commitments I've made. I have a plan to deliver a safer, stronger future for the Upper Hunter, and, as a Nationals member of the Berejiklian-Barilaro state government, I will be able to make it happen.
Tracy Norman (Independent)
Place of Residence: Salisbury
Work/family background: I own and run several businesses in agriculture, food retail and hospitality.
Pitch: I have a proven track record of negotiating with all sides of government to deliver for my community. Under my leadership as mayor, Dungog turned itself around from being declared "unfit for the future", with calls to put us into administration, to being declared "fit for the future", with all the benefits that brings, in under two years. I have chased down millions in years-old funding promises and negotiated resolutions to some seemingly wicked problems. I rallied the community to accept a Special Rates Variation then leveraged this to convince the government that to invest in Dungog was worthwhile. And this is when the money started to flow. Vote for me and watch me replicate this around the entire electorate.
Steve Reynolds (Independent)
Place of residence: Muswellbrook
Work/family background: Former coalminer (permanent injury), councillor for five years. Married to Ashleigh, three children.
Pitch: I differentiate as an independent as there is not one side of politics I genuinely fit the mould of, the same as most in society today. I see the decent policies from each party and the complexity of our electorate. My background enables me to relate to the current issues we face. I'm approachable and genuine and am not in this for the notoriety or the party politics. I'm in it to win and show the electorate we can achieve the results with the right engagement and listening. I won't be out there and haven't been pushing myself on people. I'm already involved in multiple facets of the community. Let's just get the job done. No more lip service. Land certainty, job security, health services, water security etc. "More royalties": We are constantly hearing it. A vote for me is getting on with the job and not political games.
Sue Abbott (Greens)
Place of residence: Scone
Work/family background: Upper Hunter Shire Councillor, mother and grandmother, married to local rural doctor. We have been in Scone for nearly 40 years, pretty much a record for a rural doctor and family.
Pitch: I am the only candidate talking about climate change and our need to reduce our emissions in an emergency capacity. I am also advocating that we get on board with the transition away from fossil fuels, which is already under way, and move to 100 per cent renewables. It worries me transition will not be "just" if we do not plan properly. History has shown us that, if we are not prepared, people will be left behind and abandoned.
We are facing an existential threat to nature, which includes us because we are nature. Our children have reached a tipping point due to uncertainty regarding their future and are eschewing their education and taking to the streets to protest the inaction on climate action. I am a voice for children who cannot vote, and I am a voice for nature who cannot vote. I am a voice for you.
Jeff Drayton (Labor)
Place of residence: Muswellbrook
Work/family background: I'm Upper Hunter born and bred. I was born in Denman, I went to school at Muswellbrook High and I've raised my own family in Muswellbrook.
I've worked in our wineries, energy industry and coalmines. I did 14 years as a linesman for EnergyAustralia and 10 years as coalminer at Mt Arthur. I was deputy mayor of Muswellbrook Shire Council and am now a union official.
Pitch: I will fight for the Upper Hunter's fair share, and I will deliver it. This region sends $800 million a year to Sydney in coal royalties, but we have roads full of potholes, schools without classrooms, hospitals without doctors and no plan for the future. The Nationals have had 90 years to represent our communities, but the only time they show an interest is during a crucial by-election. No matter who wins, the Nationals will forget about us again after Saturday. I'm committed to a strong and prosperous future for our region where no one is left behind. I have the experience and fighting spirit to deliver it. This election will be close. A vote for the National party means our region will just keep sending money down to Sydney while getting nothing in return.
Calum Blair (Sustainable Australia Party)
Place of residence: Singleton
Work/family background: Born in Singleton and educated through the local public school system, I continued my education at the University of Newcastle, where I completed a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil). I work in the rail industry as a construction manager in the Upper Hunter.
Pitch: Sustainable Australia Party is not like the major parties. We are an independent community movement from the political centre. We support a science- and evidence-based approach to policy, not a left- or right-wing ideology. Of all 13 candidates, I am the only candidate who stood for the seat of Upper Hunter two years ago at the state election and intend to be back again in two years' time for the March 2023 state election. I understand the need to balance and respect the needs of all communities in the Hunter Valley, including small business, farming and mining. I am passionate about local jobs and the need for a more diverse economy, including a strong manufacturing base. For starters, let's return to building NSW trains in the Hunter Valley.
Michael Armando Dello-Iacovo (Animal Justice)
Party: Animal Justice Party
Place of residence:
Work and family background: Trained in science, worked in multiple science and non-profit roles
Pitch: The Upper Hunter area is host to many cruel puppy farms, where dogs are used and abused to produce as many babies as possible. If elected, one of my first actions will be to get these banned in NSW so that no dog need suffer. I will work to protect our local wildlife and environment by reducing the amount of deforestation and land clearance, while promoting climate change mitigation measures such as the planting of new forests to capture carbon. I will work to end cruelty in horse racing and protect all animals. As a scientist, I pledge to always use evidence and reason to develop evidence-based solutions to all current and any future issues that affect the Upper Hunter and NSW.
Sue Gilroy (Shooters, Fishers, Farmers)
Place of residence: Singleton
Work/family background: I spent decades in mining and health, which gives me a unique personal insight into these industries. Now, I'm running my own business mentoring and coaching the next generation of leaders. I'm also president of Singleton Business Chamber. I grew up and lived in Singleton almost my whole life. I'm a mother of three, grandmother of four.
Pitch: The past five weeks opened the eyes of many in the Upper Hunter, including mine. The major parties' somersaults and backflips on coal will be unforgettable. Until Wednesday, they were planning on how to phase out the industry, outdoing each other for inner-city votes at the expense of regional prosperity. But I am confident the people of Upper Hunter are no fools. They won't forget. While the Government have tried to bribe the community as if they are forking out their own money and not taxpayers', they've ignored this region for over 90 years. What will change if we keep electing them? Nothing. They need to learn a lesson and be sent a message. Our vote cannot be taken for granted anymore. Not on coal. Not on farming. No on roads and hospitals. On nothing.
Kate Fraser (Independent)
Place of residence: Middle Brook, near Scone
Work/family background: Grazier, breeder of thoroughbred horses, former councillor on Scone Shire Council (15 years), former director RLPB (9 years). A member of a politically minded family. My father, Alister McMullin, was a senator for NSW and president of the Senate.
Pitch: I have the time to devote to this task, the energy to see it through, the ability to get on with most people, the interest of the electorate at heart and a great pride and admiration for those people who work so hard to make the Upper Hunter electorate a great place to live.
One Nation $15
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