The Eden-Monaro by-election is set to be held on Saturday, 4 July, after the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith, said he intended to issue the writ to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) this Thursday (28 May).
The election date falls during the school holiday period in NSW, which is not the usual protocol for elections, but an exception has been made after extensive consultation with the AEC because of the significant number of polling places that are located at schools, Mr Smith said.
“As a result, the AEC has advised me that it is preferable to have a polling date where students and staff do not return to school on the very next Monday. This will then enable a thorough sanitising clean after the completion of voting and counting at polling booths at NSW schools,” Mr Smith said.
He said that while he could issue the writ to the AEC today, he decided to hold off until Thursday to give them more time to consult relevant stakeholders about how to conduct a by-election during a pandemic.
The electoral roll will close on Thursday, 4 June, while nominations will close the following Tuesday (9 June).
All nominations will then be declared on Wednesday.
The news has come two days after the Liberal Party pre-selected Fiona Kotvojs to contest the seat against former Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Kristy McBain, who is running for the ALP.
The incumbent member, Dr Mike Kelly, sparked the by-election when he decided to resign from the federal Parliament at the end of April because of ongoing health complications.
Dr Kelly won the seat in 2007, before losing it to Peter Hendy in 2013. Dr Kelly then won it back in 2016 and retained it against Ms Kotvojs in 2019 by only 1,600 votes.
Eden-Monaro was regarded as Australia’s most prominent bellwether seat until Dr Kelly swung in back into Labor’s hands in 2016 and 2019.
If the Coalition takes the seat off Labor, it will be only the second time in history that a sitting government has won a by-election against an incumbent opposition.