The battle lines are firming across the Hunter and Lake Macquarie a year out from the next NSW government election, with all of the region’s sitting MPs confirming they will stick their hands up to re-contest their seats.
Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery was the latest state member to confirm her preselection on Monday.
Her Labor colleagues – Tim Crakanthorp from Newcastle, Kate Washington from Port Stephens, Jenny Aitchison from Maitland, Jodie Harrison from Charlestown, Yasmin Catley from Swansea and Clayton Barr from Cessnock – told Fairfax Media they have also been endorsed to run next March.
Ms Hornery, who has held her seat for more than a decade, said she wanted to see the Hunter get “its fair share”.
“I think my record stands for itself. I will take on the big battles and stand with the community and fight for what is right,” she said.
“There is still much work to do and there are many projects that remain outstanding that I want to see through.”
Independent Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said he would “absolutely” contest the 2019 poll, while Nationals member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen said he would vie for pre-selection later this year.
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Mr Piper predicted the statewide result would deliver either a hung parliament – where there is no clear majority and independent and minor party MPs hold the balance of power – or the victor would have a razor thin margin.
“If it’s a hung parliament [being an independent MP] is a huge role,” he said.
“All indications are the government is in decline – a natural decline. If there’s a slim majority the partisan politics become heightened.
“I’m not hoping for that situation but if that comes about then it’s better to have a bit of experience there.”
Mr Johnsen said he hoped to win a second term because “there is much more to do for Upper Hunter”.
Mr Barr and Ms Hornery recorded the highest proportion of votes of the region’s winners in the 2015 election, with 72 per cent and 71 per cent respectively.
The two-party race was tighter in Upper Hunter, Newcastle and Port Stephens.
Mr Johnsen’s 52 per cent of the vote edged out Labor’s Martin Rush, while Mr Crakanthorp won 57 per cent of the vote to claim victory over Liberal candidate Karen Howard.
Ms Washington recorded 55 per cent to beat her Liberal rival Ken Jordan, after she ran-down the 15 per cent margin that the Liberals had in the seat to record a 20 per cent swing.
Mr Crakanthorp cited the region’s bus timetable, the investigation into the lease of the Port of Newcastle and resources for the Hunter’s schools as key issues in the lead-up to the election.
“There is still so much to do. I need to see the issues I have been working on come to fruition,” he said.