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Candidates out early in Orange in final pitch for votes

March 25, 2023

By Peter Holmes

Three candidates for the seat of Orange were at Calare Public School on Saturday morning as the people of NSW headed to the polls to elect a state government.

After 12 years in government, opinion polls and bookmakers are predicting the Liberal-National coalition will lose power tonight.

(L-R) Orange independent MP Phil Donato, National Party candidate Tony Mileto, and Labor candidate Heather Dunn at Calare Public School on the morning of the 2023 state election. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

The most likely outcomes are a Labor majority government, or a Labor minority government. The latter would force Labor to negotiate with minor parties and/or independents.

Orange's sitting MP is Phil Donato, who has held the seat since a 2016 byelection.

Sitting Orange MP Phil Donato (centre) voting on Saturday March 25, 2023, at Calare Public School. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

A former member of the Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party, he is running as an independent after falling out with the party's leadership.

There is a chance, depending on how the cards fall on Saturday night, that Donato may wield more power than ever before - which could prove handy for the people of Orange - or none at all.

The Nationals have invested into the campaign of Orange City councillor Tony Mileto via corflutes, posters, TV ads, social media and - on Friday night - an SMS campaign.

Nationals candidate Tony Mileto conducts a TV interview on the morning of the 2023 NSW state election. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Mileto was handing out how-to-vote leaflets at the entrance to Calare Public School. He told The Orange News Examiner he would attend various polling booths today before enjoying a few drinks with friends and supporters.

Donato was also handing out leaflets as members of the public filtered in. After the polls close at 6pm he will gather with friends and supporters at the Canobolas Hotel in Orange.

Labor's Heather Dunn was the third candidate handing out how-to-vote sheets at Calare Public School. Dunn knows Labor has no chance of winning the seat of Orange, but she is playing a long game.

"Phil can't be the member forever," she said.

Labor candidate Heather Dunn chats with a volunteer at Calare Public School. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Her goal is to run for Orange City Council at the next local government elections, and then work over time to build the Labor brand in the bush.

One worker manning the polling booth told The Orange News Examiner at about 8:30am that their shift would go through to 11pm on Saturday night, as votes would be counted at the school once the polls closed at 6pm.

In that time they were given two 30-minute breaks, and could also take two 15-minute breaks if required.


Democracy sausages were not on sale at this uncivilised hour, but school volunteers were laying out trays of cupcakes.

On Friday evening The Orange News Examiner was alerted to the fact that leaflets for fringe upper house candidates Riccardo Bosi and David Graham were being letterboxed in Orange.

Their policies include "restore free and fair elections", "establish the rights of both parents in divorce", "replace all taxes with 2% expenditure tax", "prosecute breachers of the Nuremberg Code including the media" and "Lift all VIP pedophile suppression orders".

A leaflet for candidate Riccardo Bosi, delivered to homes in Orange.

Bosi has been stating on social media this week that the state election is rigged and that if he doesn't win a seat in the upper house it will be due to this.

His partner Graham - who lives on a boat, and often appears in his own videos shirtless, but always with sunglasses - believes he and Bosi will attract a large vote. This is highly unlikely.


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