24 March 2023

How to vote and who to choose for the seat of Wagga Wagga in 2023

| Chris Roe
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The time has come for NSW to vote for the 58th parliament. Photo: Chris Roe.

The day is finally upon us, the polling booths are open from 8 am, the weather is expected to clear and the democracy sausages are sizzling.

Thousands have already jumped the queue and voted early but for those who haven’t, the clock is ticking for you to play your part in choosing the 58th parliament of NSW.

If you are an Australian citizen over the age of 18, voting is compulsory and you have until 6 pm to cast your ballot at a designated polling place near you.

If you don’t, there is a $55 fine unless you can deliver a good excuse.

Your best bet is your local school, community hall, church or public building, but you can find the nearest polling place to you here, or follow the smell of the barbecue!


Here’s what Wagga voters will face when they cast their ballot. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

In the seat of Wagga Wagga, there are seven candidates, six of them located in either Wagga or Tumut and one in Sydney.

The incumbent, Dr Joe McGirr, has been in isolation since he was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier in the week, but he has been given the ‘all clear’ for election day and will join his fellow candidates in greeting voters at the polls.

Remember to be kind and patient on the day, particularly with staff and volunteers, some of whom have been working tirelessly all week.


Democracy and sausages. Photo: Chris Roe.

When you arrive at the voting centre, the first choice will involve whether to grab a sausage sizzle before or after you vote.

Once this important decision is made and you progress through the queue to the booth, you will be given two ballot papers to complete.

The smaller paper with orange borders is for the Legislative Assembly (lower house) and in the seat of Wagga Wagga it will list the seven candidates.

READ ALSO Nationals up the stakes in Wagga with a hung parliament likely

It is not compulsory to number all the boxes, your vote will count if you simply write “1” next to your chosen candidate, but the more preferences you list, the more likely it is that your ballot remains in the count, particularly if you have voted for a less popular candidate.

The other, larger piece of paper with blue edges is for the Legislative Council (upper house) and contains 21 lists of candidates vying to represent the broader state for a term of eight years.

While there are more than one hundred names on the paper, you can keep it simple and vote ‘above the line’ and select a party rather than number the individual candidates.

If you do choose to instead take your pen and venture ‘below the line’, you will need to number at least 15 candidates.


Five of the seven candidates for the seat of Wagga Wagga – Julia Ham, Ray Goodlass, Keryn Foley, Andrianna Benjamin and Dr Joe McGirr. Photo: Supplied.

Rather than attempt to summarise the arguments of the seven contenders for the seat of Wagga Wagga, we have requested an ‘elevator pitch’ from each to allow them to make the case in their own words.

We will also provide links to videos from the forum hosted earlier this month by the Committee 4 Wagga and Region, focusing on particular issues of local importance.

Ray Goodlass – The Greens

“Action to fix: cost of living/house prices; wages and working conditions for nurses, midwives and teachers; problem gambling; climate change/environment; Truth, Treaty and Voice; local infrastructure such as duplicate the Gobbagombalin Bridge, reroute the inland rail, build a Wagga bypass for Sturt Highway.”

READ ALSO Greens claim top ballot spot as a mystery candidate enters the race for Wagga

Raymond Gentles – The Public Education Party

*Region has been unable to contact the Sydney based Mr Gentles throughout the campaign. The following is the party’s mission statement.

“The Public Education Party is launching a campaign to contest seats in the NSW Upper House at the 2023 state election. The Public Education Party intends to become a force for significant advocacy in NSW public schools, and to promote public education as a first choice for high quality, secular and comprehensive education.”

Christopher Smith – Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

“Myself and the Shooters Fisher and Farmers party have a lot in common when it comes to wanting what is best for our communities and the wider Wagga electoral community. Any promises made should be actionable and the appropriate parties held accountable! If elected I will work through current projects to help our community ratify if we are blowing hot air or if there is a real way to move forward and hold the people who promised them accountable. Take new projects forward with a balanced and community consultation approach. I intend to approach this privilege to possibly represent this amazing electorate with my current stance, which is integrity needs to be first and foremost! I am here to work with and for the great people of this region, not sell myself for personal gain!”

Julia Ham – Liberal

“I am focused on the local issues that people care about in the Wagga Wagga electorate. My first priority is the Gobbagombalin Bridge duplication because we will need to make a lot of noise if we want to get it built. Roads are also a priority and supporting young families with things like free preschool and first homebuyer support.”

Keryn Foley – Labor

“I am standing up for the things I believe in. I’m not a politician, everybody can see that. Everybody pays taxes in one form or another, and government’s job is how to spend that money for the advancement of people and their community. Where we are promised more of the same by current Government, we are pledging for the community, not special interest groups. Nurses, teachers, our roads, our infrastructure. We are the only party offering positive change. We are the only party offering a chance to change. I say we should take it!”

Joe McGirr – Independent

“Over the last four years, I have worked with the community to deliver positive outcomes, including new hospitals, more services, falling crime, and the Tolland Renewal Project that will change our city. The community’s needs are being recognised by parliament. Let’s keep going with the strong, independent voice of Dr Joe.”

Andrianna Benjamin – the Nationals

“The Nationals and I have demonstrated our commitment to this seat during my campaign from the state and federal levels of the party. We have been strong in our advocacy, and we will continue to fight to ensure a brighter future for the people of Wagga Wagga if elected. The Nationals turn up, the Nationals listen to our communities, and the Nationals deliver on what we promise to do.”

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