28 March 2023

Steve Whan storms back in Monaro, overturning Nichole Overall in state-wide Labor swing

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Steve Whan

Labor Monaro candidate Steve Whan has won the seat of Monaro. Photo: Steve Whan Facebook.

The NSW election has thrown up its first significant local surprise for the South East as long-term former Member Steve Whan has comprehensively defeated Nationals incumbent Nichole Overall.

The ABC’s election analyst Antony Green called the seat for Mr Whan before 8:15 pm on election night with a predicted swing of more than 18 per cent at that stage. Postal votes are yet to be counted but can’t substantially affect the result at this stage.

Mr Whan was a late entrant in the race after the pre-selected candidate, and former Raiders captain, Terry Campese was felled by a sex party scandal that emerged only weeks ago.

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns spent time in the electorate this week, raising speculation that Labor thought the seat was winnable again.

Mr Whan represented Monaro in the NSW Legislative Assembly for the Labor Party from 2003 until his defeat by John Barilaro at the 2011 state election and then filled a casual vacancy in the NSW Upper House.

He is a former NSW minister whose portfolios included Rural Affairs and Primary Industry.

After leaving NSW Parliament, he spent several years as CEO of the National Irrigators Council. He is currently a director of Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited and a member of the advisory committee for WaterTrust Australia, an independent policy think tank focused on Australia’s inland water resources.

Mr Barilaro was replaced in a 2021 by-election by Nichole Overall, whose husband Tim served as mayor of Queanbeyan for many years. He was subsequently enmeshed in a scandal regarding his proposed appointment as a NSW Trade Commissioner in New York.

Ms Overall won the seat comfortably with 46 per cent of the by-election vote and was regarded as a well liked local member with plenty of support and funding. However she may not have been strongly established enough in the seat to resist what looks like a substantial swing towards Labor state-wide.

READ ALSO Steve Whan takes another shot at NSW Parliament following Campese withdrawal

Early in the night there have also been strong gains on the South Coast and an early swing in Goulburn, part of an unexpectedly strong regional showing for NSW Labor.

The Monaro electorate takes in Bungendore, Queanbeyan, Cooma, Bombala, Jindabyne and Braidwood and has a long history of switching between major parties, having been held by the party in power for 28 of the last 31 NSW elections.

Much of the seat crosses over with the federal seat of Eden-Monaro, where Mike Kelly and now Kristy McBain have done much in the past 15 years to cement Labor’s hold.

Mr Whan’s father, Bob, was a wool-classer who took the Federal seat for Labor in the 1972 “It’s Time” election. He was born in Canberra and is a longtime Queanbeyan resident whose children attended Karabar High where his daughter now teaches, and is widely regarded as one of the few State Labor politicians with deep rural credibility.

At 59, Mr Whan told Region several weeks ago that he still had plenty of gas in the tank, having spent the past few years bike riding and bike packing while keeping in touch with regional issues through his directorial roles.

More to come

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The job of a local member is to represent their community in parliament. Overall spent her term representing the government to us.

For her whole 12 month term, she fought against the community. She refused to meet with any group that disagreed with her citing ‘noisy minority’ as her reasons. Now she, and we, have nothing to show for it.

With just 12 months in office, can she even be characterised as a ‘one hit wonder’? I don’t think so.

Exactly. She clearly did not understand what a local state member was meant to do, so she did what she wanted to do. All we saw of her was her many photo opportunities, and her furiously deflecting any criticism to anyone within a wide range. She blamed others for everything, made misleading announcements, and followed her own preference rather than listening to the range of view points presented to her before deciding on how to proceed.

When she was the wife of the mayor, she ran his social media and blocked anyone who wasn’t fawningly positive. She seemed to employ the same thought-process when she became an MP. And this is the result.

Congratulations to Steve Whan the re-elected member for Monara. A well deserved victory. I am sure Mr Whan will bring a little more wisdom and common sense to his role in Monaro not seen since 2011.

It is puzzling for me to understand why such a smart woman as Nichole Overall would align herself with those crusty old cockies in the National Party. I am not a Monaro voter but I have family and children who voted in the electorate on the weekend. They were all unanimous, it was not Nichole. They just could never bring themselves to vote for such a conservative, backward, misogynistic and racist party as the Nationals. The Nationals’ disdain for Canberra is well known. Many Monaro voters work, shop, access health care and send their children to school in the ACT. Many have family living in Canberra . The controversies swirling around past leader Barnaby (need I mention his surname) and John Barilaro come to mind. Not to mention new Nationals leader David Littleproud who came out prematurely and announced his party’s opposition to the Voice before it had even got off the ground or talking to his colleagues! As Noel Pearson says, what a kindergarten kid!

May Steve Whan continue to shine and the Nationals remain in opposition forever!!

Well, her husband Tim Overall was revealed to be a member of the Nationals some years back, when he was in Queanbeyan council.

Given Steve Whan has previously represented the electorate and was also a minister when Labor was last in government, it’s not surprising to see he won – given the swing against the Coalition. Seems like, as often happens in politics, the “sins of the boss (and or party)” have been visited upon Nichole Overall , for I understand she hasn’t done a lot wrong, to warrant losing the seat. But that’s democracy for you.

Stephen Saunders8:10 am 26 Mar 23

Initially, Minns Labor brushed off the Campese scandal, when it was raised by a “member of the public”. They owe the complainant a bouquet now.

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