20 March 2023

COVID blow for Dr Joe as pre-polling draws large numbers of early voters

| Chris Roe
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Dr Joe

Dr Joe McGirr has tested positive for COVID just days out from the election. Photo: Chris Roe.

Less than a week out from Saturday’s NSW Election, the member for Wagga Wagga, Dr Joe McGirr, has tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s disappointing to not be able to get out on the pre-poll and a bit frustrating because it’s a good opportunity to meet folks and I enjoy it,” said Dr Joe, speaking from isolation at home.

“But, I’ve got to be careful, so I’m just going to be guided by New South Wales Health advice and I’ll be getting some medical advice too and I’m certainly going to be staying isolated for a few days.”

READ ALSO ‘Old-fashioned personal attack politics’: Dr McGirr unconcerned by Nationals’ comments as pre-polling begins

Dr McGirr is feeling OK with only mild symptoms and plans to be back on the streets as soon as he gets the all-clear.

He said it’s a timely reminder that COVID is still out there.

“We know it’s a milder illness. We’ve got a higher level of vaccination in the population, but it’s a bit of a wake-up call and I am hearing other people now in the community testing positive whereas earlier in the year, I wasn’t hearing that,” he said.

Wagga election candidates Julia Ham, Dan Hayes, Andrianna Benjamin and Ray Goodlass handing out how-to-vote cards

Julia Ham, Dan Hayes, Andrianna Benjamin and Ray Goodlass were handing out how-to-vote cards at pre-polling. Photo: Chris Roe.

Pre-polling opened on Saturday, with hundreds of early voters turning out to beat the crowds and a steady stream continued to flow into the booths in Wagga on Monday.

There were plenty of orange-clad volunteers handing out how-to-vote cards on Dr McGirr’s behalf along with Nationals member Andrianna Benjamin, Liberal Julia Ham, Greens Ray Goodlass and former Labor contender and Wagga City Councillor Dan Hayes.

While numbering all candidates is not essential in NSW, preference flows can still play an important role in a tight contest.

Despite early tensions between the local coalition teams, both the Nationals and Liberal candidates have traded preferences and listed Dr McGirr in third place.

READ ALSO ‘If you can afford a coffee for $6 a day you can afford $8 a week for a child – Nationals candidate Andrianna Benjamin

In the upper house, both have numbered the Liberal Democrats second and the Nationals have listed the Public Education Party third.

Labor’s Keryn Foley and Greens’ Ray Goodlass have both numbered ghost candidate Raymond Gentles of the Public Education Party second for the lower house.

The mysterious Mr Gentles is a retired school principal who lives in Sydney’s Inner West and the party’s stated ambition is to “contest seats in the NSW Upper House”, where they have fielded four candidates.

how to vote

How to vote cards in Wagga in 2023. Photo: Chris Roe.

The Greens have not included the Public Education Party party in their Legislative Council suggestions, while Labor has listed them fourth.

Curiously, in the lower house, the Greens have listed Labor third but the party has not reciprocated, although they have numbered the Greens second in the Upper house.

Pre-polling is open now and you can find your nearest centre here.

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