New South Wales election guide

The Poll Bludger’s New South Wales election guide is now operational – all 30,000 or so words of it. Virtue is of course its own reward, but if you think my labours deserve a little extra you are invited to follow the directions here. Further embellishments, like candidate photos and local issue summaries, will be added in due course. Please drop me a line if you spot any errors, particularly if they’re of a kind likely to invite ridicule. With that out of the way, I really am going to be keeping a low profile around here in the next four weeks or so; heavy duty state election coverage will commence thereafter.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

197 comments on “New South Wales election guide”

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  1. Great work. On Murray-Darling Labor did very poorly in Broken Hill (vote under 60%) at the 2004 federal election which was due to a backlash against chnages to the local health service. This may still be an issue.

  2. Two corrections. Eric Willis didn’t lose Earlwood in 1978, he retired earlier and Alan Jones was the Liberal candidate at the by-election and lost to Labor’s Ken Gabb. Diane Beamer was not the Labor candidate in Badgery’s Creek in 1988, she lost preselection, despite being the head Office candidate (like Fay Lo Po), to Greg Lucas (electorate officer for Roger Price I think). I meet him before the 1988 election and he was so confident that he wasn’t bothering to doorknock, but he fell to Anne Cohen, the Jackie Kelly of the 1980s.

  3. The guide shows the difficulties for the Libs in NSW – a 4% swing just to win a single seat! By all normal measures, Labor and Iemma should be dead in the water. Even as a committed ALP voter, I can see that the government looks tired and probably just past its use-by date, and yet it would be a major upset if they were to even lose their majority. Debnam clearly is a dud – it’s hard not to think that Brogden would be miles ahead at this point. I suppose we should be mindful of memories of Carr in 1991 and Bracks in 1999 – in a smallish electorate, bigger swings are more possible – but I just don’t get that sense that the great unwashed are itching to turf Iemma out.

  4. I reckon the biggest likely change will be a hung parliament.

    The six independents elected in 2003 should all get re-elected. I’m not certain about Dubbo or Manly, but the way that independents are going at the moment they should be able to make it.

    I don’t think that either McTaggart (elected to Brogden’s seat in 2005) or Stephen Pringle (resigned from the Liberals when he lost preselection) will win, but there’s a chance.

    And there’s a bunch of new independents running with strong backing, including the (Lord) Mayors of Newcastle, Wollongong, Goulburn, Lake Macquarie and Maitland.

    And there seem to be other opportunities, as well as the Greens running in Balmain and Marrickville.

    I’d overall say that independents or Greens are in with a credible chance in:
    -Northern Tablelands
    -Port Macquarie

    And I’ve heard rumours about other country electorates. That’s 15 electorates. Obviously not all of those will go to the independent, but many of them will, and thus the chances of a hung parliament are pretty bloody good.

    Looks like interesting times ahead in NSW.

  5. Great work as always.

    A couple of small things. The guide for Strathfield I think should say that is replacing the abolished seat of Burwood rather than Earlwood. The link for Albury needs to be fixed.

    Agree that Labor have been a poor enough government to lose, but they are just starting from so far in front that it will probably save them. Debnam’s seeming ability to make himself the issue by making ridiculous comments isn’t helping the Libs either.

    You would have to think that any credible independent should do quite well in the current circumstances.

  6. Brilliant guide, absolutely top effort. Must now be absorbed at length. Just two things: wasn’t Willoughby IND vs LIB in 2003? and wasn’t Keira ALP vs GRN (just) as well?

  7. The Wollondilly profile should note that Phillip Costa and Phil Costa are the same person. He was boosted as a potential independant, then joined the ALP to become a candidate.

  8. Good call, WSM. Real good call. Other errors identified have been corrected – keep ’em coming.

    Josh, you are right on both counts. However, Antony Green’s post-redistribution assessment is that the Greens would not have stayed ahead of the Liberals in Keira on the new boundaries, so the ALP vs LIB figure is the only one there is. Also, I am only using IND vs ALP/LIB/NAT figures where the independent did actually win the seat – otherwise I’m using Antony’s notional ALP vs LIB/NAT figures.

  9. Some of the strongly Green booths in Keira were redistributed into Heathcote and less Green booths in the south were redistributed into the electorate from Wollongong, thus the change.

  10. I will take a chance and say Labour will lose 6 to 7 seats but pick up 4 to 5. Net loss of 1 to 3 seats.
    Debnam is prancing around like a Prince Charles look alike, speedos in the surf whoo hoo.

  11. Ben Raue

    Of the 3 high profile independents in the Hunter, I would say the Mayor of Maitland Peter Blackmore is at short odds to win, especially without the popular sittimg member John Price standing. His popularity in Maitland is very high. I would also rate John Tate quite likely to win Newcastle. I am unsure about Grep Piper in Lake Macquarie.

  12. I have to point out a couple of errors with Tweed.

    Firstly, Pottsville has actually been added to the electorate from Ballina.

    Secondly, whilst there were rumours about a year ago, mostly whipped up by Labor, that Warren Poleglase was going to stand as an independent, as far as I’m aware (and I follow what’s happening in Tweed pretty closely) this is not happening.

    And thirdly, minor point, but the Tweed River doesn’t comprise any part of the NSW/Qld border. The river does form the telephone area code boundary though, hence Tweed Heads and Banora Point have 07 phone numbers despite being in NSW. It’s quite a common mistake.

  13. Labor candidates announced at the weekend include:
    Monica Hayes in Port Macquarie – I predict her vote will be less than Hough in 2003 and he got only 8%
    Lisa Clancy in Myall Lakes who stood at the 2003 election – she has no chance buit will no doubt aid any reasonable independent candidate.

  14. I’d add that with Newcastle, regardless of who wins, the fact that there are four strong candidates, and only one of those is from a major party, indicates that it is likely to end up with a crossbench MP, one way or another.

  15. Hi Ben,
    I can’t agree with your analysis for the following reasons.
    1. Talking up the Greens in Marrickville and Balmain. The margins are 10% and 7%. Both seats have young female left-wing Labor candidates. Carmel Tebbutt has a significant profile while neither of the Greens candidates are not particularly well known. It is possible that water and global warming may be issues in the election but I doubt if they will be major issues. Even if they are, the thinking voter will be able to choose between a party that talks alot but is never in a position to do anything and a party that can form government. I think the margins are too high.
    2. My completely non-random and small poll in Newcastle (5 friends and relatives in fact) shows that Jodi McKay has a surprising level of support. I always thought she was a particularly incompetent news reader but this has apparently given her a much higher profille than Gaudry (who has been the member for 15 years) or the Lord Mayor, Tate. In addition she is seen as a refreshing change from the power playing men who usually represent Newcastle. She may have difficulty getting branch members out to hand out HTVs but apparently the right wing unions have promised help. The margin is 15%.
    3. Maitland.The Independent Mayor Blackmore has the disadvantages of being a former Liberal member for the seat. There are also questions of propriety, he has faced but been cleared of charges of sexual assault and has also been accussed of the abuse of funds when he was the member. The Margin is greater than 10%
    4. Swansea The margin is 17%. I think the outfall from Orkopoulos’ charges have been neutralised by the government with particular help from Debhnam. The independent, if he stands, is the mayor of Wyong. The overlap between his council and the seat is quite small – I would think his profile in Swansea is equally small.
    5. Finally, if all the seats you predict to fall actually do fall, the Labor party will lose 6 seats and the coalition will lose a further 3. Labor would have 49 (majority of 1) coalition 28 greens 2 independent 13. Labor would have no difficulty maintaining government.

  16. Nick, all my life I have assumed that the Tweed was the state border, and now you say it is not so – I looked at the map and you are right. Is it then a coincidence that it is named after the Tweed which is on the border of England and Scotland? Was the river named before or after the NSW-Qld border was decided?

  17. William, Barry O’Farrell, the member for Ku-Ring-Gai, is the Deputy leader of the Liberal Party (I think!) – he’s not a Labor member.

  18. would anyone care to tell me the marginals in which left candidates/members are running for the ALP?

    from an above post ive seen marrickville and balmain, but unsure of others.

  19. I didn’t say that all those seats would fall. I’m sure quite a few of them won’t. But all of them have significant challenges.

    My own read of Newcastle and Maitland from people who live in those seats say very different things to what you have heard.

    It’s true our chances are not great in Marrickville, but there will be a very strong Green vote there and that is why I’ve put it on the list. Balmain is another story though. I reckon we have a fairly good chance there, as good as some of these independents running.

    Also, I still expect the Coalition to win seats off the ALP, so your assumption that all of those seats fall to independents and every other seat stays the same is faulty. If the ALP lost, say, 3 seats to Independents, it would substantially aid the Coalition’s prospects of a hung parliament. It doesn’t take away from the fact that the Coalition still needs to win seats (just because they’re not gonna gain a lot doesn’t mean they won’t win seats). Who knows, maybe I’m affected by the fact that in my local area I expect at least two Labor seats to fall to the Coalition.

  20. Looking at William’s table, I think it’s quite possible now that Labor won’t lose any seats to the Coalition, and have a fair chance of winning Murray-Darling from the Nats. I don’t get the impression that Debnam has made any impression at all. It’s possible Labor will lose some seats to independents, but not I think to the Greens.

  21. Irrespective of possible sub 4% uniform swings (and thus the Coalition not getting enough to win any seats) its not unreasonable to expect some seats to experience quite severe swings. Macquarie Fields may yet be one of those seats. As to Murray-Darling, thats already held by the ALP so it would be a save not a win (although frankly Black is one very conservative individual and would remain suited to the place…).

    I suspect Wollondilly, Monaro and Tweed could all fall with non-uniform swings, and then we move onto to the other seats where demographic changes may play a bigger role. Heathcote is one which could become an increasingly ‘Green’ seat while Keira moves back into the ALP fold (but then a good strong independent there could upset Campbell’s applecart too). Kiama has been a bit of swing seat at times and the southern NSW seats have all been the scene of some intense pork-barrelling over the years.

    Personally I would be watching the Hunter-Lake Macquarie area for some bigger shifts in votes which, while not delivering necessarily the required seats for the Coalition to win, will considerably weaken the ALP’s hold on the region.

    Of course, the big question is about Debnam and his campaign. For now I don’t see him becoming Premier due to plain old poor campaigning, but some of the other Coalition candidates are actually putting in some effort (Flegg in Coogee, although I doubt he’ll even get close). Looking into the future this election may well have huge ramifications for the ALP firstly in local government election in 2008 (loss of Councillors, Councils and talent), and then the next state election in 2011 (loss of Government, loss of remaining talent).

  22. I thought that the Marrickville by-election was the best opportunity in a long time for the Greens to win a lower house seat. They might win Balmain and/or Marrickville with Labor being on the nose – and might have a chance at Sydney if they get a good primary vote and get a lot of preferences.

  23. Adam, you’re fogetting Edward the First’s rough whooing of the Scottish. One very important part of the Tweed is not the border between England and Scotland. Some north of the border still complain that the old Scottish town of Berwick on the north side of the Tweed is in England, and Berwick Rangers is the only English football club to play in the Scottish League.

    The border was defined along the watershed between the Clarence and Moreton pastoral districts, which were defined in the 1830s or 1840s. The Tweed was named by John Oxley in 1823, and the notion of a new northern colony was written into the NSW Constiutution of 1856, the seperation proclaimed in December 1859. Queensland elected members to the NSW Parliament at the first three elections after the grant of self government in 1856.

  24. If Clover Moore runs we won’t win Sydney. And while I remember someone speculating on what would happen if she retires, I haven’t seen any sign she will and don’t expect her to do anything except run again.

    But we’ve been campaigning in Sydney since the start of last year, have a strong candidate, and should do well.

  25. I agree that swing is seldom uniform, and that there may be some seats which produce a swing greater than 4% while the statewide swing is low or nonexistent. But it is equally possible that the high swings will be in places where they are not needed, and that no seats will fall to the Coalition. That’s what happened in Victoria – the Libs got good swings in their own seats, and low swings in the key marginals.

    Murray-Darling has a Nat majority on the new boundaries, so if Black holds it that counts as an ALP gain.

  26. Clover is unbeatable. The Greens’ only chance is Balmain, but the ALP is getting quite good at defending inner-city seats against the Greens by running women who put up a good “left” front at the local level. Witness Bronwyn Pike’s successful defence of Melbourne in Victoria. I would be VERY surprised if the Greens win a lower house seat anywhere.

  27. Regarding electorates in my area:

    My experience in South-West Sydney is that MacFields was in serious danger after Chaytor got into a spot of bother, but McDonald should be able to put off that danger. My understanding is that the ALP realised that preselecting another Labor machine hack (like most of the ALP pollies in Campbelltown) would have led to the seat potentially going to the Libs (Nola Fraser is a strong and likeable candidate, and doesn’t reek of the problems Debnam is having – indeed she was chosen by Brogden just before his breakdown), but they headed that off at the pass. What I have heard tells me the ALP was sniffing around in the local community for candidates who have no history of even supporting the ALP and have strong local community links (including some who support other parties). Of course, this assumes Debnam running a better campaign that he has, but the potential was there.

    I also reckon that, even if the overall swing is very small, Labor will lose Wollondilly. There is no local member to protect the ALP vote, and my feeling is the Liberals will be successful.

    I’ve also just been redistributed into Camden. That’s got a margin of roughly 8%, but even that I reckon is achievable for the Liberals. So my feeling living in an area with a few marginal seats is that the Liberals aren’t doing as badly as people are saying on here.

  28. Adam

    Off the top of my head, without looking up the exact dates – the Tweed River was discovered and named in the 1820s, and it seems it is just a coincidence that the state border was drawn in that vicinity over 30 years later.

    Tweed will be a very interesting seat to watch. Despite being the most marginal Labor-held seat there’s no guarantee that the Coalition will win it. I’m told the Nats are quietly confident, but other reports suggest Newell will hold on. Ultimately it will be decided by Greens preferences – there was a report in the SMH last year suggesting they would preference Labor, but my local sources say they will run an open ticket.

  29. Even though I am from Adelaide, you can easily see that Labor cannot lose in NSW, even though their incompetence is unbelieveable.

    It is similar here in South Australia. Rann has done bugger all here, and yet will probably be Premier till at least 2014 due to the Liberal party incompetence (or it manages to pick up 25 seats. The only time something like this happened is in 1993, post State Bank disaster. I doubt it, unless Evans either beefs up a bit more or he hands the leadership over to Chapman or Hamilton-Smith (who would take up the fight to Rann a bit more.)

  30. I am going to move a motion at National Conference that all Labor members resign from all state and territory parliaments and that Labor not contest the subsequent by-elections. Thus we will hand over all the state and territory governments to the Coalition. This will ensure that we win the next federal election, and probably the next five. Since Howard has transferred most state powers to Canberra it won’t matter that there are Coalition governments in the states. The only flaw in this brilliant scheme is that I am not a delegate…

  31. It seems almost everyone believes that Iemma’s government is incompetent and losing support. I just don’t see that from here and the opinion polls are not showing it. Last weekend’s Herald poll had the 2PP at 53/47 for him. In NSW, because of the demographics of the North Shore the Coalition generally has to get well over a 50% state-wide 2pp to gain government, although local variations in seats do of course occur.

    Certainly those interested in politics are finding 12 years of Labor a bit boring and the SMH seems to have had a year long vendetta against the government, in which Iemma gets the blame for everything. Last week they had a “Special Herald Investigation” that revealed (shock, horror) that there were no toilets on Sydney trains and people had been peeing in the area between the two carriages. What a piece of news! What a shocking indictement of government!

    What is the outstanding local issue that is going to generate an 8% swing in Balmain? I often get the impression that those who talk up the Greens argue that ” well, last time we came second with 46% of the 2pp and next time we will probably do better” even when there have been no general swing, no local issue and no local demographic changes. It is the same as Labor saying “well, last time we got 46% in Upper Hunter, so this time we are going to win”. While it is not impossible, it is also unlikely to happen.

  32. Sorry. I meant that the Greens got 42% 2PP in the boundaries of Balmain last time. I am not having a good mathematical day.
    Yes, the SMH tends to preach to the converted.

  33. Adam,

    I was worried for a minute. I was worried how you could be a delegate when you are not in a faction. I thought the rules must have changed while I was out to lunch. I’m happy for NSW to have a Liberal government in order for us to get a federal Labor government, but please, I couldn’t bear to have the Liberals back in Victoria. There’s not much left for them to sell, though disposing of teachers and nurses would be likely.

  34. The problem is that even when a government is manifestly incompetent or tired or both (in the Iemma government’s case), there still needs to be a credible opposition for that government to lose office. Better the devil you know …

    When I was in Sydney over the xmas break, and politics was spoken of, there was an inevitable shrug of the shoulders, roll of the eyes, or growl when the Iemma government was mentioned. And every single person, loyalist of left or right said “if only the opposition was credible”. There was an incredible sense of exasperation with both sides of politics. Labor does not deserve to win in NSW, neither do the liberals, and if Iemma does win, the NSW population have condemned themselves to 4 more years of whingeing about the government (they may get even worse!)

    It is possible that there could be a massive swing to independents, and to the Greens in seats like Balmain, as it is the only way to break the logjam. It could be interesting and deliver representation or it may just lead to complete breakdown, and even more cynicism as loose self interested confederations may form. And for the major parties … the talent pool gets even smaller.

  35. Nick,

    The Nationals are always confident of defeating sitting State ALP members but rarely succeed.

    The NSW Nats have only defeated 2 sitting state ALP MPs in the last 30 years.

    In 1988, Peter Cochrane (NAT) won Monaro from John Akister (ALP).

    In 1981, Jim Curran (ALP) was defeated in Castlereagh by Roger Wotton (NAT). Wotton had been the MP for the abolished seat of Burrendong, a large portion of which had been moved into Castlereagh. Curran was a new MP, having only been in Parliament for 18 months.

  36. Ok, so Iemma’s government is a disaster and in normal circumstances Labor should be kicked from office. But the Libs are a weak and ineffective opposition, so what do voters do? They’ll turn to independents. I expect local mayors to emerge as strong candidates in a number of ALP-held electorates (I hope that someone stands in Swansea as surely this would be an easy gain for a decent independent). I also expect the Greens to come within a couple of percent of winning Balmain and Marrickville, but fall short as usual.

  37. Thanks William for another insightful and interesting election guide.
    I’m another Sydneysider expecting the Iemma government to retain office, although with a reduced majority. The bar has been set too high for the Libs, and Debnam is a frigging disaster, and Pete, parading around in speedos didn’t work for Baillieu in Victoria. ! I have to agree that if Brogden was still leader, he’d be the next Premier on March 25.
    My own seat of Epping will as usual be won by the Liberals – Greg Smith the new Liberal candidate.
    I suspect Labor will lose Tweed, Menai, Miranda, maybe Penrith or Camden. I doubt any of the Hunter Valley seats will go to independents.
    And, the real shock on election night might be the Libs not being able to win back either Manly or Pittwater.

  38. I think people are kinda missing the point – its not what’ll happen at this election (Debnam loses as predicted, but ALP margins cut in many seats), but at subsequent elections. If Iemma loses core support and this is then translated into the loss of Councillors and Councils in 2008 (and with the Libs entering Councils as Liberals and not as ‘Independents’ as previously) there will be increasing sniping at ALP members and Government at a local level. This will erode support at that level to the point that sitting MP’s will see % loss to their seats. It also diminishes the talent pool from which the ALP has often drawn (as much as the Libs). The loss of Government at the 2011 election would further diminsh that talent pool and could herald a lengthy stay in Opposition.

    I was in Melbourne during the last week of the 1999 state election. At the beginning of the week it was all over and Kennett was a shoe in (and the ALP was struggling to properly staff their booths). By mid-week there was a palpable sense that something could happen (people volunteering to staff booths and campaign against the Coalition). By the end of the week people dared to think that Kennett could lose. So Iemma might look comfortable against a weak and ineffective Opposition, but its not in the bag. While the general trend is simply for voters to erode support for the ALP with say a 3% swing, the individual tenor of local campaigns will be for the more volatile. Thus the Hunter could throw up interesting results, as could Western Sydney. If the ALP first preference vote suffers through people voting for Independents, Greens and minor parties it ensures that preferences come into play – and then it becomes dangerous.

    I still think the ALP will win, though, but with a reduced majority – I would pitch for them losing between 4-6 seats, including Murray-Darling, but not all to the Coalition.

  39. Given that the swing will be in Sydney, Tweed and Monaro should be safe I think. Neville Newell has always been underestimated as a campaigner (see Neal Blewett’s diary on 1993). Macquarie Fields is one of Labor’s rotten boroughs where they can get away with anything and will continue to do so. The curiousity about the north coast is that on federal figures Lismore, Page and Ballina are all line-ball, eventually they will go the way of Tweed and the Nats will be in trouble. On the Greens: they never try to appeal beyond 10% of voters, look at their NSW press releases, the result is that working-class Labor supporters are condemned to put up with crap Labor governments.

  40. There is too much focus on Debnam’s weaknesses, and not enough attention on the incumbent premier’s inadequacies. Maurie might be a nice guy but he is better suited to the job of a minister’s driver than a minister. Indeed, when introduced to him by Mike Egan a few years ago, that is who my friend thought he was (Egan’s driver).

    The only one who is credentialled to be premier is Watkins, and he is in the wrong faction.

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