Federal implications should not be overstated.
By-elections can be an opportunity for an unhappy electorate to send a message to incumbent governments knowing that the result won’t change who is in charge. Bill Shorten was successful in by-elections but lost the federal election. No doubt, though, there will be some nervous members in the Coalition, and after the last week of instability, this may exacerbate existing tensions.
While the swing against the Government in Willoughby was 18%, it was towards an Independent as Labor didn’t run a candidate. This result will be a concern for the Federal Government with independent candidates running in inner city electorates on platforms like climate change.
In Bega there are reports that the biggest swings against the Coalition were in areas hardest hit by the bushfires. Federal Labor narrowly won the traditional bellwether of Eden-Monaro in 2020 at another by-election and there will be Coalition concern as to how this result impacts the wider electorate including neighbouring seats.
The upshot overall is – by-elections are by-elections and while this will unsettle the Coalition, Scott Morrison has time to reset.
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