A BYELECTION for the seat of Orange is still yet to be announced, but constituents have been assured they still have people to turn to if they need assistance.
Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) legislation does not set a timeframe for how long an electorate can be without a sitting member, and it is up to the Legislative Assembly to first declare the vacancy before the Speaker can issue writs to the AEC for a byelection.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee resigned last week to stand for the federal seat of Calare.
A spokeswoman for NSW Legislative Assembly Speaker Shelley Hancock would not confirm a timeframe to issue the writs, saying the poll would be announced in due course.
But she said the Orange electorate office in Byng Street would remain open following Mr Gee’s resignation to provide continuous service to constituents until the byelection was held, with support provided by neighbouring MPs and parliamentary secretary for western NSW Sarah Mitchell.
“For example, if a constituent makes a Justice of the Peace application, or requires a representation to be made to a minister, then the electorate officers will forward these to a neighbouring member of Parliament to sign,” she said.
“This is standard practice when byelections occur, and the Office of the Speaker and the Department of the Legislative Assembly will be on hand to support the staff of the Orange electorate office during this time.”
She said electorate office staff were not permitted to undertake campaign activities during office hours.
Similar services are available from the Calare electorate office in Anson Street following retiring federal member John Cobb’s departure.
With a state byelection not expected until after the federal poll on July 2, an AEC spokesman said the legislation would not prevent Mr Gee from standing again for the seat of Orange if he lost Calare.
But Mr Gee confirmed he would not resume his former role.
“In the event I am unsuccessful at the federal election I will not be contesting the byelection for the seat of Orange or returning to state politics,” he said.