ABC chief elections analyst Antony Green has called the seat of Kiama for independent MP Gareth Ward.
This one was a tight race, with Labor’s candidate, former journalist Katelin McInerney, behind by only 615 votes.
“At the moment Ward leads with 50.8 per cent of the vote after preferences. He also polled 48.6 per cent of the first preference vote in the 2,200 postal votes already counted,” Green says.
“We don’t have a preference count for the postals, but once available it will boost Ward to around 51.2 per cent and with 79.1 per cent of the vote counted, and another 1,000 postal votes yet to be counted, Ward can’t be caught by his Labor opponent at this stage.”
Mr Ward has held the seat since 2011, mostly as a Liberal.
After being charged with indecent and sexual assault offences last year, he was suspended from the parliament.
This election, he ran as an independent.
Police allege Mr Ward assaulted a 17-year-old boy at Meroo Meadow near Nowra in 2013 and a 27-year-old man in Sydney in 2015.
Yesterday he appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to all charges. He told journalists after the hearing he was confident of proving his innocence.
Premier Chris Minns yesterday said he would make a decision on whether to try and suspend Mr Ward from the new parliament once the seat was called.