A guide to the Newcastle by-election

Emily Burley offers up a by-election cheat sheet.

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With all the talk about ICAC and its impact on Newcastle politics, you’ve probably heard there’s a by-election coming up. What you may not know is why the by-election is taking place, when it is, who the running candidates are and whether or not you have to vote (chances are you do). I’ve put together a quick guide to help you better understand what’s going on.

Firstly, there isn’t just one by-election approaching, but three. Two of the by-elections are to select new members of NSW Parliament for the electorates of Newcastle and Charlestown. These two by-elections will take place on the same day and you’ll only have to vote in one, if at all. The third by-election is to select a new lord mayor of Newcastle. This by-election will take place three weeks after the first two, in order to maintain a distinction between state and local governments and their relevant issues. If you’re enrolled to vote anywhere in Newcastle you’ll have to vote in the Newcastle lord mayoral by-election.


  • Newcastle state by-election

The Newcastle state by-election was triggered by the resignation of MP Tim Owen, after the ICAC investigation revealed he had been accepting donations from prohibited property developer donors. Owen was suspended by the NSW Liberal Party before resigning from NSW Parliament completely. This by-election will be held 25 October.

Who’s running?

The Liberal Party has announced they will not run in the by-election as “an act of atonement” for the ICAC scandal. Candidates running for election* include Tim Crakanthorp (Labor), Michael Osborne (Greens), Milton Caine (Christian Democratic Party), Stephen O’Brien (Socialist Alliance), Jennifer Stefanac (Palmer United Party-endorsed Independent), Jacqueline Haines (Independent), Tony Brown (Independent), Brian Clare (Independent) and Karen Howard (Independent).
* These are the declared candidates so far, but this list may change.

Do I have to vote?

The Newcastle state by-election involves those living in central Newcastle, including the suburbs of Broadmeadow, Carrington, Georgetown, Hamilton, Hamilton South, Islington, Lambton, Maryville, Mayfield North, Mayfield East, Merewether, Merewether Heights, Newcastle, Stockton, The Hill, The Junction, Tighes Hill, Waratah and Wickham. If you’re 18 or older and enrolled in this electorate, you’ll have to vote.


  • Charlestown state by-election

Similar to the Newcastle state by-election, this by-election was prompted by the resignation of MP Andrew Cornwell, after ICAC revealed he too had been benefiting from prohibited donors. Cornwell, like Owen, resigned from NSW Parliament and the NSW Liberals after being suspended from his party. This by-election will also be held 25 October.

Who’s running?

Again, the Liberal Party isn’t putting forth a candidate. Running for election* are Jodie Harrison (Labor), Jane Oakley (Greens), Reverend Doctor Brian Tucker (Christian Democratic Party), Suellen Wrightson (Palmer United Party-endorsed Independent), Arjay Martin (Independent), Mark Sky (Independent), Luke Arms (Independent) and Luke Cubis (Independent).
* These are the declared candidates so far, but this list may change.

Do I have to vote?

The Charlestown electorate covers the southern part of Newcastle and northeastern parts of Lake Macquarie, including the suburbs of Adamstown, Adamstown Heights, Belmont North, Bennetts Green, Cardiff, Cardiff South, Charlestown, Dudley, Eleebana, Floraville, Garden Suburb, Gateshead, Highfields, Hillsborough, Jewells, Kahibah, Kotara, Kotara South, Mount Hutton, Redhead, Tingira Heights, Warners Bay, Whitebridge and Windale. If you’re 18 or older and enrolled in this electorate, you’ll have to vote.


  •  Newcastle lord mayoral by-election

Lord mayor of Newcastle Jeff McCloy also resigned from his position after being implicated in the NSW ICAC. McCloy is a property developer who ICAC revealed had made undeclared donations to Liberal Party members Owen and Cornwell. This by-election will be held 15 November.

Who’s running?

Candidates for the position of lord mayor* are Nuatali Nelmes (Labor) and Therese Doyle (Greens).
* These are the declared candidates so far, but this list may change.

Do I have to vote?

Anyone enrolled to vote in any of Newcastle’s four wards will have to vote in the lord mayoral by-election. For the record, Newcastle’s wards cover Bar Beach, Carrington, Cooks Hill, Islington, Maryville, Mayfield, Mayfield East, Mayfield West, Newcastle, Newcastle East, Newcastle West, Stockton, The Hill, The Junction (part), Tighes Hill, Warabrook and Wickham (ward one), Adamstown, Adamstown Heights, Broadmeadow, Hamilton, Hamilton East, Hamilton South, Hamilton North, Merewether, Merewether Heights and The Junction (part) (ward two), Georgetown, Jesmond, Kotara, Lambton, New Lambton, New Lambton Heights, North Lambton, Waratah and Waratah West (ward three), and Beresfield, Birmingham Gardens, Black Hill, Callaghan, Elermore Vale, Fletcher, Hexham, Lenaghan, Maryland, Minmi, Rankin Park, Sandgate, Shortland, Tarro and Wallsend (ward four).


You should check with the Electoral Commission if you’re not sure whether you need to vote, or to find information on postal votes, voting booth locations and voting assistance. It’s a good idea to double check what’s required of you, because you’ll be fined $55 if you’re supposed to vote and fail to do so!


Image: Alcantar214.


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