How key is the seat of Upper Hunter?

WITH the state election just days away, odds offered by Australia’s major betting companies suggest a comfortable Labor victory.

As of Friday 17 March, Bet365 were offering slim returns of $1.16 for a Labor triumph, paying $4.50 for an outright Coalition win and $101 for any other party.

Market research insiders however believe the race to be much closer.

The latest Newspoll conducted over the period of February 20-23 sampled 1,014 people, giving Labor a 52-48 lead – a two-point gain for the Coalition since September.

The betting companies have been wrong before however, with Sportsbet famously paying out on a Bill Shorten victory two days before the 2019 Federal Election.

With the Liberals holding slim margins in East Hills (0.1 percent), Penrith (0.6 percent) and Parramatta (6.8 percent), election analysts believe the election will be decided in Western Sydney.

Also in the spotlight is the seat of Upper Hunter, currently held by the National Party’s Dave Layzell.

Upper Hunter is one of three NSW electorates to have never been held by the Labor party, but has become more marginal in recent years.

Mr Layzell won the seat via by-election in 2021 after Michael Johnsen was forced to resign from parliament.

The Nationals hold a slim margin of 0.5 percent in the seat, however that figure is based on the last state election and not the 2021 by-election.

David Briggs, the former CEO of Galaxy Research, one of the nation’s leading market research agencies, has experienced more than 60 state and federal elections.

Winning Upper Hunter will still be a hard task for Labor, despite the slim margin, according to Mr Briggs.

“Technically Upper Hunter is only on a small margin, but after Labor went backwards in the by-election, it is considered a long shot for Labor.”

Mr Briggs is also tipping an “interesting electoral contest” in Port Macquarie, but says the majority of Nationals seats in the Mid North Coast are safe from any serious Labor challenge.

“There (Port Macquarie), the sitting National MP defected to the Liberals and the Nationals are challenging in a three-way contest to try and win ‘their’ seat back.

“There are no serious challenges to any Hunter region seats and it would be a huge, though pleasant, surprise to Labor if they won anything between Port Stephens and Port Macquarie from the Nats.”

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