UPPER HUNTER BY-ELECTION: Voters Head to the Polls

Voters have taken to the polls to elect a new Upper Hunter MP. Image: Facebook/Jeff Drayton

It’s D-Day for the NSW Coalition with voters headed to the polls in the Upper Hunter.

The region was forced into a by-election after former MP Michael Johnsen stepped down in the wake of allegations he raped a woman in the Blue Mountains in 2019.

The NSW Nationals, Labor, One Nation and the Greens are all vying to win the seat alongside the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and a number of independent candidates.

It’s tipped to be a close contest between Nationals candidate Dave Layzell and Labor’s Jeff Drayton, however the minor parties are expected to do well.

The Nationals have held the Upper Hunter for almost 100 years but the uncertain future of the coal and mining industry and Mr Johnsen’s scandalous exit have shaken the party’s grip on the seat.

The by-election is crucial for the NSW government which will be plunged further into a minority if it can’t get the votes.

Michael Johnsen is one of three MPs to move to the crossbench in recent months along with former sports minister John Sidoti and disability minister Gareth Ward.

More than 40% of voters had already cast their vote ahead of the polls opening at 8 o’clock Saturday morning.

Polls close at 6pm with initial results expected by 7pm.

You can find a list of the Upper Hunter’s voting centres here.