On the 12th February 2022, a by-election was held for the vacant NSW State seat of Bega, composed of the Eurobodalla Shire and Bega Valley Shire local government areas, as shown in the following map.
The by-election was precipitated by the early resignation of former member Andrew Constance, who was running for the Federal seat of Gilmore in the upcoming federal election. The by-election was held on the same day as by-elections for other NSW seats of Monaro, Strathfield and Willoughby.
There was no Covid-related restrictions announced for the by-elections , other than the present indoor rules, because the NSW Electoral Commissioner was only given this power for the local government elections. This may change and new or similar conditions may be made for this or subsequent elections.
The Ivote system will not be used for these by-elections, but all electors were sent a postal voting pack and everyone is allowed to pre-poll.
The relevant dates for the Bega by election are :
Candidate nominations by noon 27 January
Ballot Paper draw 8.30 am 28 January
Pre polling starts 31 January
Election Day 12 February
Postal votes mailed by 6 pm 12 February
Postal votes received by 25 February
Candidates for the Bega By-Election
There were seven candidates confirmed for the Bega by- election. They are :
Dr Michael Holland (Labor) : has been an obstetrician-gynaecologist at Moruya District Hospital for 19 years and lectured at the Australian National University medical school. This is the first time Dr Holland has stood for election in any parliament. Dr Holland has been a strong advocate to see improved health services in the region, continuing to place a spotlight on the fact that Eurobodalla Health Services has to send more than 40 per cent of its patients to hospitals outside the region.
Fiona Kotvojs (Liberals) : is a beef and truffle farmer from Dignams Creek who has twice been narrowly unsuccessful as the Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Eden-Monaro: in 2019, when she fell 0.8% short of unseating Mike Kelly, and at the subsequent by-election following Kelly’s retirement in July 2020, when Kristy McBain retained the seat for Labor by 0.4%
Peter Haggar (The Greens) : has lived in the Bega Valley for 15 years raising a family and operating Café Evolve, a café in the main street of Bega known for its focus on waste reduction, use of compostable packaging and support for local suppliers.
Karin Geiselhart (Sustainable Australia) – a part-time resident and investor in the Eurobodalla region since the 1980’s with a long term interest in climate change issues.
Victor Hazir (Shooters, Fishers & Farmers) – a resident of Balgowlah Heights in Sydney.
Jeffrey Hawkins (Independent) – a resident of Tathra (no other information available)
Ursula Bennett (Independent) – has stood in previous elections for the Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group). German born mother of 9 who now lives in Moruya
To date, one live Candidate’s Forum has been run at 6PM on 31st January at Kyla Hall, Tuross Head organised by the Tuross Head Progress Association. This forum was facilitated by ABE co-convenor Bernie O’Neil, and the Eurobodalla Beagle has a video record of the event here.
The Nature Conservation Council (NCC) of NSW held a Zoom candidates forum at 6 PM on the 2nd February.
ABC Southeast Radio held a candidates forum at Riverside park in Moruya from 9AM till 10AM on Tuesday 8th February, which was broadcast live. You can find a report on the event at this link from the Eurobodalla Beagle, and listen to the full 52 minute audio of the event at this Youtube link.