Meticulous vote counting will continue after the weekend’s by-elections in three NSW electorates — but the victorious Nationals are now facing a less certain future.
The Nationals watched on nervously as the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party ate into their heartland seats of Murray (in southern NSW) and Cootamundra, held with margins of more than 20 per cent.
Despite leader John Barilaro claiming victory for the party on Sunday, he acknowledged it had been a hard-fought campaign as the Nationals suffered a swing of around 15 per cent.
The results leave the once-safe seats as marginal electorates ahead of the 2019 state election.
The biggest threat to the Nationals came from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, which claimed the seat of Orange at a by-election last year.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was very pleased and relieved with the results, despite the huge swing.
Labor stormed to victory in the third by-election in Blacktown, with candidate Stephen Bali registering more than 70 per cent of the vote in the western Sydney seat.