Calare: Gee keen to keep his seat



Frontrunner… Andrew Gee, Nationals representative for the Central West NSW seat of Calare.

The Nationals Andrew Gee has held the seat of Calare in central west NSW since the 2016 federal election. He represented Orange in the NSW Parliament from 2011 until his resignation to pursue the federal seat in 2016. 

His resignation in 2016 triggered a by-election for the seat of Orange, in which the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Philip Donato beat The Nationals Scott Barrett. 

The SFF party is not fielding a candidate in Calare in 2022, but Mr Gee faces an unknown challange in a fairly high-profile independent, Kate Hook, who could be a threat if she runs second and collects Labor and Greens preferences.

Mr Gee was born in Wagga Wagga and grew up in the Maitland area. He studied economics and Law at Sydney University where he then went on to  practice as a solicitor. Gee then moved to Hong Kong where he set up a business with his brothers before returning to Australia in 1999. He was called to the NSW Bar in 2003, a professional body of lawyers responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in NSW. 

He moved to Orange in 2005, where he ran a legal practice before running as a candidate in the state election. He was appointed an Assistant Minister in January 2019 and has served in several portfolios since. He is currently Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel.

The Australian Electoral Commission website says that in the 2019 election, Mr Gee received just more than 66,000 two-party preferred votes, which was just under two-thirds (63.3%) of the electoral vote. This was a 1.48% swing to the Nationals from the previous, 2016, election.

His efforts during the bush fires won him plaudits from areas hardest hit. Mr Gee was part of the Nationals party room that voted out Michael McCormack as party leader and deputy prime minister and replaced him with Barnaby Joyce.

The ABC considers Calare a “very safe seat” for the National Party, which has represented the area since 2007. However, various media outlets have noted that the Nationals’ traditional role as the party of the farmer and the bush is under threat. Originally named the Country Party, the Nationals traditionally represent graziers, farmers and voters from rural and regional areas, but there are claims they represent the interests of miners more than farmers these days. The party has an extensive relationship with the Liberal Party, following many similar principles and policies, and forming a Coalition to govern together. 

During the 2019 election, Mr Gee claimed that his achievements for the region included procuring medical equipment, such as the radiology machine in Orange and a 24-hour helicopter service. He also promised infrastructure upgrades, such as the $2.5 million expansion of Bathurst Airport.