Seat of the week: Robertson

Roy Morgan’s effort to pull the rug from under Newspoll on Tuesday, as noted in the update to the previous post, has deprived me of my usual Friday poll thread. It us thus left to Seat of the Week to fly the flag on its lonesome. The latest instalment looks at the NSW Central Coast seat of Robertson, held for Labor by what on present indications looks to be an undefendable margin of 1.0%.

One of the happier aspects of the 2010 election for Labor was an apparent tactical win in New South Wales, where a statewide swing of 4.8% yielded the Coalition a notional gain of only four seats – half of what would have been achieved on a uniform swing. Remarkably, the four marginals Labor retained against the trend – all of which were outside Sydney – were the only four in the state which swung in Labor’s favour: Eden-Monaro (2.0% swing), Page (1.8%), Dobell (1.1%) and, most fortuitiously, Robertson, where a winning margin of just 0.1% from 2007 became 1.0% in 2010. This was despite the unceremonious departure of Labor’s accident-prone sitting member, Belinda Neal.

Robertson covers the coast about 60 kilometres north of Sydney, with the Hawkesbury River marking its southern boundary with Berowra. All but a small share of its voters live at its coastal end, which includes Labor-leaning Woy Woy, Liberal-leaning Terrigal and marginal Gosford. The remainder of the electorate covers Popran National Park, McPherson State Forest and the Mangrove Creek dam. Although technically a federation seat, it was a different beast when it was created, covering the inland rural areas of Mudgee, Singleton and Scone.

As Robertson was drawn over time into the increasingly urbanised coast, the conservatives’ hold weakened to the point where Barry Cohen was able to gain it for Labor in 1969, and to withstand the party’s disasters of 1975 and 1977. The seat drifted back slightly in the Liberals’ favour thereafter, and was held by them throughout the Howard years by Jim Lloyd, who unseated Labor’s Frank Walker with a 9.2% swing in 1996.

Robertson returned to the Labor fold in 2007 when a 7.0% swing delivered a 184-vote winning margin to their candidate Belinda Neal, wife of Right faction powerbroker and then senior state minister John Della Bosca. Neal had earlier served in the Senate from 1994 until 1998, when she quit to make a first unsuccessful run in Robertson. Once elected Neal soon made a name for herself with a peculiar parliamentary attack on a pregnant Sophie Mirabella, and an episode in which she allegedly abused staff at Gosford restaurant-nightclub Iguana Joe’s. In 2009 her husband, who had been present during the Iguana Joe’s fracas, resigned as state Health Minister after it was revealed he was having an affair with a 26-year-old woman.

Suggestions that Neal’s preselection might be in danger emerged soon after the Iguana Joe’s incident. A challenger emerged in the shape of Deborah O’Neill, an education teacher at the University of Newcastle and narrowly unsuccessful state candidate for Gosford in 2003. O’Neill won the favour of local branches and, so Peter van Onselen of The Australian reported, “NSW Labor Right powerbrokers”. The national executive allowed the decision to be determined by a normal rank-and-file ballot, in which O’Neill defeated Neal 98 votes to 67. O’Neill went on to prevail at the election against Liberal candidate Darren Jameson, a local police sergeant.

The preselected Liberal candidate for the next election is Lucy Wicks, who has contentiously been imposed on the local branches by the fiat of the party’s state executive. Barclay Crawford of the Daily Telegraph reports this occurred at the insistence of Tony Abbott, who lacked confidence in the local party organisation owing to its poor performance at the 2010 election and the recent preselection of a problematic candidate in Dobell.

The solution was to impose candidates on both electorates; to choose women for reasons of broader electoral strategy; and to share the spoils between the warring Alex Hawke “centre Right” and David Clarke “hard Right” factions (local potentate Chris Hartcher being aligned with the latter). Robertson went to soft Right in the person of Lucy Wicks, who according to the Telegraph was a particularly galling choice for members due to her tenuous local credentials and membership of the very state executive which imposed her as candidate.

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.

2,210 comments on “Seat of the week: Robertson”

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  1. What the ALP needs to realise is that Rudd is going to look even better against Abbott as time goes on.

    There is no urgency for a leadership change until the end of September – November

  2. [This is what I mean!

    Like the knight with all his arms and legs cut off pretending to be in a strong position.

    STEAM ON AHEAD, DONT CHANGE ANYTHING PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!

    Bring it on, baby, bring it on…]
    So you really do want Abbott then?

  3. Gary. perhaps the late switcheroo will be the tactic… let Gillard take the brunt and then switch him in for an easy coast home…

    haha. whatever… who knows… 18 months is along way away…

  4. So Abbott has run Labor primary vote down to 26%… or was that Pyne the gazel leaping over the pack. 🙂

    Please dont think about Keven, Gillard is the best person to lead Labor to the next election.

  5. Spur it aint going to happen.
    The Ruddstoration is over and thank Dawkins for that.
    Rudd is now a footnote in history – and that’s a good thing.

  6. Where are the Gillard/Turnbull or Gillard/Hockey figures? Or the Abbott/Turnbull results? We wouldn’t be stirring up Ruddstoration just when Abbott made a complete goose of himself, now would we?

  7. ML:

    [I feel more confident than ever that even a ninkompoop like Abbott cannot stuff this up. What more stupid, un prime ministerial thing can the schmuck do? He not only beats Gillard by about 100 seats to 50 (or worse actually), he even beats her on preferred PM.

    Whatever hope you guys had of a “peak Abbott” must be shot now surely?]

    And this individual whom even you call a schmuck is someone you welcome as PM?

    Such stupid hubris. I’m gobsmacked.

  8. [So you really do want Abbott then?]

    My advice is for the ALP.

    Stick to your guns and dont start listening now, whatever you do, trust your instincts and stick with Gillard.

    We libs then have the wonderful position of continuing as is, or whenever things start to look shaky we just dump the LOTO, thanking him for all he has done to two ALP PMs and pick the next long term Australian Prime Minister.

    You may be interested that another person at the party knew people who knew Turnbull and they were scathing of him as well!

    Never fear, there is always hope!

  9. If Neilsen is going to dabble in the Rudd stuff again what a pity they didn’t ask the obvious question – who would you vote for if Rudd was PM. That might have been interesting.

  10. krudd almost destroyed the labor party election hopes,then whiteanted for a further 18 months,should be expelled from the party,let him whiteant on the crossbenches.

  11. [Puff, the Magic Dragon.
    Posted Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
    Where are the Gillard/Turnbull or Gillard/Hockey figures?]

    I am with you Puff.

    Lets see the carnage of Gillard versus Turnbull please, pretty, pretty please!

  12. Herbal Teas earlier discussion
    ++++++++++
    Earlier there was some discussion on herbal teas
    I attach an article of some help
    BTW .. Used .Chamomile tea bags if cooled can be used after making the a tea as a soothing item to place over ones eyes if suffering from strain/smoke or dust
    said to be also mildy antiseptic too..
    very cooling and pleasant…best to use when laying down

  13. davidwh – the low ALP primary doesn’t match any of the other polls in the last fortnight, so I think that at least that part may be an outlier. I reckon we’re at about LNP 55% TPP.

  14. ML needs to make his mind up. The other day he was saying he was unsure how he was going to vote next election because of Abbott. Now he’s cheering him on. Would the real ML please stand up.

  15. spur212 @ 2133

    26 Primary Vote!

    Please don’t say media conspiracy. It’s way too far gone and I suggest you look at the Rudd/Abbott preferred PM rating

    Don’t you know yet? Logical argument backed by facts just don’t cut it here. I hope caucus is a bit smarter.

  16. So, according to Neilson, the ALP only has to persuade another 770,000 people on a 2PP basis to change their voting intentions between now and about 16 months time. According to Newspoll, it is 440,000.

    That is quite a difference.

  17. [We libs then have the wonderful position of continuing as is, or whenever things start to look shaky we just dump the LOTO, thanking him for all he has done to two ALP PMs and pick the next long term Australian Prime Minister.]
    So which is it? You want Abbott or you don’t want Abbott?

  18. For those who think that Rudd won’t come back because he has no factional support, I suggest you look at what happened in SA with Weatherill. All he needs is the polls and the prospect of ALP wipeout

    He also has support from MP’s that people on here respect (Albo, Marn, Mike Kelly).

  19. [Lets see the carnage of Gillard versus Turnbull please, pretty, pretty please!]

    Mod Lib

    if its 59 – 37 Turncoat, i will forgive him, give him a kiss and stand in the rain handing out how to votes for him. 🙂

  20. Info on Herbal Teas and uses

    Use used camomile tea bags when cooled as a soothing application to the eyes is harmed by smoke/soot/or dust

    cccchttp://www.ihealthdirectory.com/herbal-teas-types-benefits/

  21. Hard to believe Abbott still leads Gillard as preferred PM after last week. But I know people here don’t like to hear it but Gillard is not trusted generally in QLD. QLD will be a very big problem for the government next election.

  22. Alright, ML, I will ask you a couple of serious questions (instead of posting your own silly statements for all to view again and again and again):

    1. What are Mr Abbott’s policies?

    2. How are they costed?

  23. GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes
    #Nielsen Poll Preferred PM: Gillard 44 (+2) Abbott 46 (-4) #auspol

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes
    #Nielsen Poll Preferred PM (Rudd/Abbott): Rudd 59 Abbott 37 #auspol

    So if there were a PPM Rudd -v- Gillard the figure would be extremely embarassing. Probably Rudd 65 Gillard 25

    Governor General John Howard strutting the stage, just one by-election away.

  24. [Jake
    Posted Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
    Mod,

    Sorry. You just seem a bit agitated. Defensive even.]

    I am sorry if I am a bit red cordial and run out of Ritalin, its just I think this is a really massive poll.

    Even with an assumption that ACN is usually slightly favourable to the Coalition, in the way that the Newspoll is slightly favourable to the ALP we have the situation where the Coalition must be experiencing the worst week they have had!

    Given that, to see a 57-43 poll confirms the view that the electorate have decided.

    They may give Abbott a slight tap on the hand for being a dill, but there is no way on Earth they would consider returning Gillard.

    Essential, Morgan and ACN have a catastrophic result for the ALP (about 40 seats)
    Newspoll, apparently a great poll for the ALP, just has it at the worst result for nearly 40 years if translated to an election (about 58 seats)!

    Can you see what I mean now?

  25. [1. What are Mr Abbott’s policies?

    2. How are they costed?]

    The public don’t give a flying F. Basically they have unfinished business with Gillard and will not be thinking about anything else until they do her in. This much must now be so obvious.

  26. gusface @ 2116

    listen LSL

    lay off my say

    she is perhaps the most honest poster on PB

    disagree with her, but dont disparage her

    When my say keeps making snarky comments about others here she will get fire returned.

    Or do you regard her as some kind of protected species?

    LSLs analysis was right on the mark.

  27. [Given that, to see a 57-43 poll confirms the view that the electorate have decided.]
    Let me get this straight. Newspoll was BS and this is the poll that counts for the next 18 months. You’ve gotta love it. LOL.

  28. [Anyone who believes the ALP pv is 26% has rocks in their head. Neilsen has been understating it for months now.]

    Sigh. Same denial as ever continues as ever, almost comical now.

  29. [Anyone who believes the ALP pv is 26% has rocks in their head. Neilsen has been understating it for months now.]
    I think it is about 30%, which of course is horrendous.

  30. Leroy its hard to get a feel at present mainly because Newspoll is different to all the other polling. I agree the 26% seems too light and you would normally get a worse 2PP with Labor primary that low. I think all we can really say is that the range is between 57/43 and 54/46 with my guess probably more likely in the mid to high part of that range – say 56/44.

  31. Or do you regard her as some kind of protected species?

    LSLs analysis was right on the mark.

    few things

    my say is quite a straight shooter

    you and her have crossed swords

    but for LSL to weigh in

    NO fugging WAY

    Capiche

  32. [Gary
    Posted Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Permalink
    ML needs to make his mind up. The other day he was saying he was unsure how he was going to vote next election because of Abbott. Now he’s cheering him on. Would the real ML please stand up.]

    Abbott aint gonna last long. I am talking about a long, long, period of Liberal rule potentially being set up here. The Liberal way is going to sweep Australia, and I can’t wait.

    If it means I have to tolerate a brief period of Abbott, I can live with that, but the long-term view is only good news for liberal supporters!

  33. Bemused @ 2168

    [Don’t you know yet? Logical argument backed by facts just don’t cut it here. I hope caucus is a bit smarter.]

    Perhaps caucus is able to discern the difference between panic/populism and reality.

  34. [Let me get this straight. Newspoll was BS and this is the poll that counts for the next 18 months. You’ve gotta love it. LOL.]

    All the polls are saying the same thing: electoral wipe out

    All the polls have said this thing for a year.

    You can debate whether it is 54-46 or 55-45 or 56-44 or 57-43 or 58-42, I am not in the slightest but concerned which of those it is.

    If Abbott can do anything he likes, and the electorate will still vote for him over Gillard by double digits (or more), that sounds like an electorate that has made up its mind. Entirely consistent with what I am hearing from people as well.

  35. Well if you cant half tell im over the moon with tonights poll. I have been feeling sick all week because i knew heart of hearts that Abbott looked like a complete turkey running out the door with his head cut off this week im parliament. The footage had a great run for a good few days and the government went into hiding to ensure it was the focus, which it was. And yet here we find #Nielsen Poll Preferred PM: Gillard 44 (+2) Abbott 46 (-4) 🙂

    What does abbott have to do in the public eyes to get a big poll slap?. Gillard on the other hand is politically dead, no ones seems to give a toss what she does anymore. And then we have Keven from QLD.

    Gillard is the best person to lead the Labor party to the next election.

  36. [Spur it aint going to happen.
    The Ruddstoration is over and thank Dawkins for that.
    Rudd is now a footnote in history – and that’s a good thing.]

    Bwah hahahaha ha ha. hahaha

    What I find truly amazing, and after the massive effort of character assassination of Rudd by Gillard, Swan, Crean, the media and so and so forth for a very long time, And course the extremely stupid and demeaning personal attack by Swan on Rudd…which simply showed what an absolute low life Swan is… the net result is Rudd being preferred PM by a country mile.

    You all must understand what this means is the public give almost no credibility to anybody at all in Labor, except Rudd.

    After a massive character attack the net result is Rudd is more popular than ever. This says a lot about what people think of the people attacking Rudd.

    Too funny/

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