• Rikki Lambert

No deal - Perrottet to crossbench on cusp of slipping further into minority

Former Bega MP Andrew Constance's passing legacy may be to hand his seat to Labor

Despite the NSW coalition government possibly being pushed further into minority government, the premier says he won't be doing deals to secure his grip on power.

After the weekend's 'super Saturday' of four by-elections in NSW, early counting indicates Labor may have won a surprise extra seat in the state's lower house.

The final results won't be finalised for weeks but it looks like Labor has retained the Sydney seat of Strathfield formerly held by ex-leader Jodi McKay, while the Coalition looks to have retained the seats once held by former party leaders Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro.

The big talking point is early votes indicate Labor has won the South Coast seat of Bega from the Liberals - pushing the coalition government further into minority.

Liberal MP Andrew Constance vacated the seat after holding for 19 years, to make a tilt at federal politics. If the early counting is to be believed, his legacy is handing the seat to Labor.

Federal Labor MP Matt Thistlethwaite called the outcome early, tweeting:

"Super result for Dr Michael Holland, Chris Minns & @NSWLabor. Big kick in the pants for Perrotet and the Liberals. @ChrisMinnsMP"

Premier Dominic Perrottet says he isn't fazed by the prospect and won't be doing deals with the independents and minor party MPs, telling Sydney radio:

"For the last three years we have been in a minority government situation.
"I'm not interested in doing deals, I'm interested in working through issues and working with the crossbench where there are legitimate areas of policy that we can work with them on we will.
"But we're certainly not going to be doing any deals - we haven't been doing that for three years," he said.

The official results will be delayed until March 11 because more than 38 per cent of voters in Bega, Monaro, Strathfield and Willoughby cast their vote before Saturday's ballots, either via post or through pre-polls.

A win in Bega would be the first time Labor has held the seat, which party leader Chris Minns previously said would be "almost impossible" to win.

By-elections are notoriously hard for governments but Mr Perrottet says he's heard the message from voters.

The Premier acknowledged his government had a lot more work to do in the Bega electorate, saying "many of those local communities have felt abandoned" after the devastating bushfires of 2019-20.

Jason Yat-Sen Li is expected to retain former Labor leader Jodi McKay's Strathfield seat for the party, however Mr Perrottet said voters swung towards Liberal candidate Bridget Sakr and will elect her at the next state poll.

The Nationals' Nichole Overall is expected to retain former deputy premier John Barilaro's Monaro seat.

Despite a swing of around 18 per cent, Liberal Tim James is expected to retain former premier Gladys Berejiklian's Willoughby seat, leading Independent Larissa Penn by a more than 10 per cent margin after about 40 per cent of votes were counted.