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Resignations, retirements and by-elections...and more to come

Resignations and retirements have resulted in a spate of by-elections in state and territory parliaments this year, including two each in NSW (Newcastle and Charlestown), Queensland (Redcliffe and Stafford) and the Northern Territory (Blain and Casuarina), and one in Western Australia (Vasse). Another two by-elections are to be held shortly in South Australia as a result of the death of one MP and the resignation of another (in the electorate of Fisher on 6 December 2014 and Davenport at a date still to be decided). The ABC’s election analyst, Antony Green has produced an excellent overview of the by-elections held so far, including a profile for each of the electorates and a breakdown of the results. The following summarises the state and territory by-elections to fill vacancies, as well as federal and state elections held so far in 2014.

New South Wales: Two by-elections were held in New South Wales on 25 October following the resignation of the sitting Liberal MPs who admitted to receiving undeclared cash donations from developers before the 2011 NSW state election. Their actions were revealed during the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry which is due to report to the NSW Parliament in January 2015. The seat of Newcastle, previously held by Tim Owen (LP), was won by Tim Crakanthorp (ALP), while the seat of Charlestown, previously held by Andrew Cornwell (LP), was won by Jodie Harrison (ALP). The NSW Liberal Party announced that it would not field candidates in the two by-elections as an ‘act of atonement’ following the ICAC inquiry revelations. Barry O’Farrell (LP) had earlier resigned as NSW Premier and leader of the state parliamentary Liberal Party in April 2014 after he misled ICAC over a gift of wine, and several Liberal MPs have subsequently moved to the cross benches to sit as Independents whilst allegations about their activities are investigated by ICAC.

Northern Territory: The Blain by-election was held on 12 April following the retirement of former NT Chief Minister, Terry Mills (CLP). His seat was won by Nathan Barrett (CLP). The Casuarina by-election was held on 18 October following the retirement of Kon Vatskalis (ALP). The seat was won by Lauren Moss (ALP). In addition to the by-elections, three MPs resigned from the CLP to become Independents then joined PUP on 27 April. One of the MPs, Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu, resigned from PUP in September to rejoin the CLP.

Queensland: By-elections were held for two Queensland state seats. Redcliffe by-election was held on 22 February following the resignation of Scott Driscoll (LNP). He resigned from parliament after a Privileges Committee Inquiry into his financial dealings recommended that he be expelled. The seat was won by Yvette D’Ath (ALP). Stafford by-election was held on 19 July following the retirement of the sitting Member  Dr Chris Davis (LNP), who had been dismissed as Assistant Minister for Health after raising questions about the state government’s handling of the doctor’s contract dispute in Queensland hospitals. He announced his resignation from parliament after raising concerns about the government’s changes to electoral donation laws and missing the vote on the legislation. The seat was won by Anthony Lynham (ALP). In addition to the by-elections, Queensland MP Dr Alex Douglas resigned from PUP in August after missing out on preselection for next Queensland state election to be held in March 2015. He is expected to join KAP.

Western Australia: The Vasse by-election was held on 18 October following the resignation of former WA Treasurer, Troy Buswell (LP). Libby Mettam (LP) narrowly won the hotly-contested election over Peter Gordon (Nats) after a controversial campaign where the government coalition partners went head-to-head to win the safe Liberal seat. The ALP chose not to field a candidate in this by-election.

Other elections: In addition to state and territory by-elections:

Party abbreviations: Australian Labor Party (ALP); Liberal Party of Australia (LP); Nats (The Nationals); Country Liberal Party (CLP); Liberal National Party (LNP); Palmer United Party (PUP); Katter’s Australian Party (KAP)