'I accept the message': Premier says mistrust of politicians decided byelection
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'I accept the message': Premier says mistrust of politicians decided byelection

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says voters' mistrust of politicians at both levels of government was the deciding factor in the Liberal Party's thumping defeat in the Wagga Wagga byelection on Saturday and her government will "double down" to rebuild trust ahead of the March state election.

Independent candidate Joe McGirr, a doctor and academic, was on track for a historic win in the seat on Sunday as swings above 30 per cent hammered the Liberals in booths across the electorate.

The Liberals' Julia Ham had edged ahead of Labor's Dan Hayes and was in second place on Sunday morning but Mr Hayes, in the third spot, was expected to benefit from preferences from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party.

Gladys Berejiklian talks about the Wagga byelection on Sunday morning.

Gladys Berejiklian talks about the Wagga byelection on Sunday morning.

Photo: James Alcock

The result is not expected to be confirmed for several days.

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"The people of Wagga sent me and my government a very strong message [on Saturday]... and I accept that message," Ms Berejiklian said in Sydney on Sunday.

She said it was likely Ms Ham would receive "the highest primary vote" but the seat would be won on preferences.

The Berejiklian government was forced to call a byelection in the seat, held by the Liberal Party for more than 60 years,  after long-serving MP Daryl Maguire admitted at a corruption inquiry in July that he tried to earn payments by setting property developers up with investors.

Voters were "angry and disappointed" with Mr Maguire and their frustration was "exacerbated" by the Coalition's leadership antics in Canberra, Ms Berejiklian said.

Ms Berejiklian visited the electorate repeatedly in the leadup to the byelection and said voter trust was the deciding factor in the campaign and “people are feeling very disengaged from the political process”.

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Her government took "full responsibility" for the result and would "double down" and "work their guts out" to restore that trust, she said.

"It will be difficult for us; there is no doubt," she said.

Dr McGirr said on Saturday the result would "come down to preferences" but he was "delighted and honoured".

Opposition Leader Luke Foley said on Sunday “the people of Wagga have made a statement. They don’t want to be taken for granted like they have been for years by the Liberals".

“Wagga was one of the safest conservative seats, but the arrogant polices of the Liberals have been emphatically rejected today," he said.