Politician fighting charges of ‘sexually assaulting 27-year-old man and assaulting 17-year-old boy’ is bookies’ FAVORITE to win key seat
- NSW MP Gareth Ward challenges sexual charges
- He is the favorite to be re-elected in Kiama
A former Liberal state minister suspended from Parliament while fighting sexual charges is the favorite to be re-elected in Saturday’s election.
Kiama member Gareth Ward is running as an independent and is the favorite in his South Coast NSW constituency, with Sportsbet giving him the lowest odds at $1.35.
By comparison, her liberal rival Melanie Gibbons has higher odds of $5. She was parachuted into the seat after losing a local Liberal Party pre-selection ballot for the Holsworthy seat, 100km away, where she was a local MP.
Labor’s Katelin McInerney is at odds of $5.50 on a seat her party held from 1981 until 2011, when Ward was elected when the Coalition first came to power.
Ward was suspended from the Legislative Assembly in March of last year after being charged with three counts of indecent assault, one count of sexual intercourse without consent and one count of common battery.
Kiama member Gareth Ward is the favorite in his NSW south coast constituency, with Sportsbet giving him the lowest odds at $1.35 (pictured left with former Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian)
He had resigned from the Liberal Party in May 2021.
The former minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services is contesting all charges with police alleging he indecently assaulted a 17-year-old boy in Meroo Meadow in 2013 and sexually assaulted a 27-year-old man in Sydney in 2015.
The case remains before the courts and Ward said he is entitled to the presumption of innocence.
Sportsbet predicts that the Labor Opposition will pick up the Sydney seats of East Hills, Parramatta, Penrith and Riverstone from the Liberal Party, in addition to Heathcote’s theoretically Labor constituency.
That would leave Labor leader Chris Minns with 42 seats, five short of the 47 needed to win a majority in the 93-member lower house, as the Coalition won 41 seats.
Mr. Ward was suspended from the Legislative Assembly in March last year after being charged with three counts of indecent assault, one count of sexual relations without consent and one count of common assault (pictured during question time in 2020)
Both Minns and Liberal Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet have vowed to refrain from seeking Ward’s support to help form a minority government.
This would make three Green MPs the decisive ones, along with former gay marriage champion Alex Greenwich, regional independents Greg Piper and Joe McGirr, and former Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party members Helen Dalton, Phil Donato and Roy Butler.
Labor goes into the election with 36 seats they already hold, but two more with redistributions including the new Leppington seat and Heathcote’s theoretically Labor constituency, bringing their current tally to 38.
The Coalition starts with 44 seats, following an unfavorable redistribution at Heathcote, a by-election defeat to Labor in Bega and the loss of two Liberal MPs on the cross bench due to scandal since the 2019 election.
By comparison, Ward’s liberal rival, Melanie Gibbons, has higher odds of $5. She was parachuted into the seat after losing a local Liberal Party pre-selection ballot for the Holsworthy seat, 100km away, where she was a local MP.