THE 1996 byelection may be the closest Country Labor has come to winning the seat of Orange in recent memory, but the candidate from the campaign still says everyone will have a tough road unless they’re a National.
While this byelection will replace former member Andrew Gee, in 1996, it was Garry West who left the vacancy.
Tim Sullivan was Orange’s mayor at the time and his profile when he contested the seat for Labor brought him within about 5 per cent of winning, with a 14 per cent swing.
“I won the votes in Orange, Wellington and Canowindra, but not in the rural areas – I think in Geurie I got one vote,” he said.
But Mr Sullivan said he came to the contest from a different position – Labor was in government at the time, under Bob Carr, and he provided an opportunity to be a member in a sitting government.
“Byelections really should favour the government of the day,” he said.
“But typically of this electorate, they elected Russell Turner into opposition for 12 years.”
Although Manufacturing Workers Union polling has listed The Nationals’ primary vote at 37.6 per cent, down from 65.6 per cent at the March 2015 general election, Mr Sullivan thought it would be a challenge for all candidates except for The Nationals’ Scott Barrett.
“It’s like backing a horse, if you know who wins, you’re going to back it,” he said.
“They’ve got to get around and door knock and talk to people – that’s all they can do, be known.
“It hurts nothing to change the member, it shows people are thinking for themselves.”
Mr Barrett said he expected a swing against him, but he would not be distracted.
“I’ll be getting out and talking to people – no election is easy,” he said.