Seat of the week: Page

UPDATE: Essential Research has primary votes unchanged on last week, at 32% for Labor, 49% for the Coalition and 10% for the Greens, although rounding has resulted in an increase in the Coalition’s two-party lead from 56-44 to 57-43. Also featured are questions on power prices, with 37% thinking power companies most responsible against 28% for the federal government and 23% for state governments; price increases under the carbon tax, which 52% (including 68% of Coalition voters) say they have noticed and 36% say they haven’t; and the various aspects of the Houston report recommendations, which find very strong support for limiting the ways boat arrivals can bring their families to Australia, opinion divided on increasing the humanitarian program and strong opposition to the Malaysia solution, but strong approval for implementing them all as per the new government policy.

Page covers the north-eastern corner of New South Wales, outside of the northernmost coastal stretch from Byron Bay to the Queensland border which constitutes Richmond. Its main population centres are Ballina on the coast, Lismore and Casino further inland, and Grafton in the south. Labor’s strongest area is Lismore, with the remainder generally leaning slightly to the Nationals. With a median age of 44, the electorate is second only to Lyne as the oldest in Australia, and it ranks in the bottom ten on all measures of income. There are correspondingly low numbers of mortgage payers and high numbers of unemployed, along with the fifth lowest proportion of residents whose main language is other than English.

Page was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1984, from an area which had historically been divided between Richmond and Cowper. It was won in 1984 by Ian Robinson, who had held Cowper for the National/Country Party since 1963. Like his party leader Charles Blunt in neighbouring Richmond, Robinson was a surprise casualty of the 1990 election, when he was unseated by a 5.2% swing to Labor’s Harry Woods. Woods held on by 193 votes in 1993 before inevitably going out with the tide in 1996. The seat was then held for the Nationals throughout the Howard years by Ian Causley, who had previously been the state member for Clarence – which Harry Woods then proceeded to win at the by-election to fill his vacancy.

Page did not swing greatly on Causley’s watch, but the Nationals benefited from redistributions which added 1.0% to the margin in 2001 and 1.3% in 2007. This did not avail them when Causley retired at the 2007 election, with Labor’s Janelle Saffin picking up a 7.8% swing to defeat Nationals candidate Chris Gulaptis (now the member for Clarence after retaining the seat for the Nationals at a November 2011 by-election). In swing terms, Saffin achieved the best result of any Labor member in New South Wales at the 2010 election by picking up a swing of 2.5%, the only other seats in the state to record pro-Labor swings being Robertson (0.9%), Dobell (1.2%) and Eden-Monaro (1.9%).

Saffin was a Lismore-based member of the state upper house from 1995 until the 2003 state election, when she withdrew from preselection after it became apparent she would not retain a winnable position on the ticket. In the period between her two spells in politics, she resumed work as a human rights lawyer and then took up a position in East Timor in 2006 as adviser to Jose Ramos Horta. Saffin publicly supported Kevin Rudd during his leadership challenge in February 2012. The Nationals have again nominated their candidate from 2010, Clunes businessman and farmer Kevin Hogan, who won preselection ahead of Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson.

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.

3,581 comments on “Seat of the week: Page”

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  1. OOOHH

    The narrowing!

    Remember how the bookies were betting $7 Labor to win the election?

    Where there’s SMOKE there’s FIRE 😎

  2. fiona


    The Greens can’t even knock up a budget.

    Eeeew, BW, not at this time of night!]

    haha. It was in the context of, yet again, a Greens presuming to wax critical of someone else when they do not have a policy leg to stand on themselves.

  3. [Newspoll

    53-47 2PP
    Primaries: Coalition 45 , ALP 35, Greens 11

    Abbott: satisfied 34 , dissatisfied 54
    Gillard: satisfied 27, dissatisfied 60
    Better PM: Abbott 38, Gillard 38]

    Teh Narrowing! 👿

  4. [Newspoll

    53-47 2PP
    Primaries: Coalition 45 , ALP 35, Greens 11]
    I think this means we can safely say that Labor’s primary vote trend is now in the low 30s rather than in the high 20s.

    This poll, when added to the previous Newspoll, suggests to me that there has been a slight improvement in Labor’s performance over the last few weeks.

    This is also reflected in the fact that the preferred PM is now tied.

    I think the main reason for this change is because AT THE MOMENT the carbon tax has turned into a complete non-event. However, I qualify that by saying that many people won’t get their first energy bills that fully included the effect of the carbon tax until late September, i.e. if they are billed quarterly.

  5. Coalition TPP was:

    59 in Sep 2011
    53 in Nov 2011

    59 in Apr 2012
    53 in Aug 2012

    oscillating around 56 for 15 months……unless the trend continues of course!

  6. [Very interesting result]

    Is that all you’ve got to say?

    Why don’t you go back and read what you wrote about PM Julia Gillard?

    Enjoy your shit sandwich, you will be eating plenty before the election.

  7. BW

    Thank you for your kind offer.

    One thing I have always been fascinated with was the format of the Healesville and Warburton trains between Melbourne and Lilydale. In the very early days (pre 1920s) they were hauled by steam trains all the way but once the electric trains were introduced to Lilydale the country carriages were hauled by suburban electric motors to Lilydale where the steam took over for the journey to Healsville and Warburton.

    If your dad ever travelled on those trains I would be interested in any memories he may have of them.

    I’ve been trying to find anyone who has a photo, or photos, of them, but there’s not a lot around. It was a long time ago.

  8. Two effects from that result are:

    The good ship PM Rudd slips just a bit further over the horizon. You might be able to discern a bit of smoke from the funnels, but all the crowd at the quay have packed up and are heading home. 35 PV will stiffen a few spines and the white ants won’t find too many willing to listen.

    The media’s free ride for Abbott becomes that touch harder to maintain. A few more hacks are going to have to acknowledge that an ALP win next year is at least theoretically possible.

    Going to be really fun to watch this play out. Realistically this is the very first time Abbott has been under any pressure at all since taking the leadership. At first he had no expectations on him. Merely not saying something breathtakingly stupid was a major win for him. Then he was hit up the arse by a rainbow with Labor deciding Rudd had to go, Gillard faltering early, and a campaign where the media simply refused to challenge him. Not getting the Indies on side wasn’t seen as much of a loss at the time because he’d done brilliantly to just get the Coalition so close and anyway he’d be in the Lodge by Christmas. Since then of course it’s been all smooth sailing with scare campaigns and poll leads being accepted as a valid substitute for you know actual policies and stuff. But now? No more Boats stick to beat the government with, a Carbon Tax that started out as a wrecking ball, morphed into a python, and is latterly looking more damp squib. No schools hit list after today either.

    Nope for the first time in his leadership the buffoon could just find himself under a little pressure. It wasn’t something he always handled with aplomb as a minister. Which hack is going to be the first to wake up that there could be leadership fun and games to be had this killing season, only it’s not the leader they’ve been thinking for 2 years was under pressure.

  9. I’m surprised that the events of the past fortnight have already produced a (slight) improvement in Labor’s polling. I thought they would take longer to percolate out to the electorate. We can only speculate about whether the improvment would have been even better if someone (I wonder who?) had not fed the Gillard-Wilson story to the Murdoch press this week in a bid to undermine Gillard’s polling. This kind of sabotage can only increase the level of anger against the minority faction in the Caucus. I’ll wait for some more polls before I start getting excited.

  10. Darn 3569
    Re Healesville and Warburton trains
    I was primary school aged boy during WW2 and with my parents I had a number of holidays in the Yarra valley
    My memories are that we took as suburban train to Lilydale and there we had a break…in a railway refreshment rooms…which existed on all major stations and that time
    Though there was a degree of food rationiong it was relatively easy to eat out

    Despite the recent legend that there was no decent food in Australia till the post–war migrant wave …there was good food in both private and public places…but not a wiff of pasta or stir-fry

    My Mother and my female relatives all made great stews and roasts and baked a host of splendid cakes and steamed puddings and biscuits …great comfort.foof…no men ever cooked….which skills survives in the sticky date puddings that have reently been “discovered”today in many places
    Harold Clapp…the father of the Spirit of Progress was then railway Director and a rather inspired Public Servant of a kind now vanished

    The railways ran pountry farms and bakeries…no junk food or outsourcing for Clapp

    After an ample lunch at Lilydale I remember we took the the hour long journey to Warburton by steam train
    The line diverged from the Healesville line near Yarra Glen
    Trains were slow.. they stopped at many small stations…this was wartime and post-war times when petrol was rationed and few had a car to use
    Trains were always crowded..and often late but we took that for granted
    There were several trains each day on that line

    I recall one that came up in the early evening which brought the evening papers from Melboiurne…and on Saturday’s The Sporting Globe..on pink father being a punter liked to see the results.
    We stayed in one of the many guest houses which served three hot meals a day and always had a pianola,,one of my great delights

    We used to walk up to the station each night where the local newsagent took the papers from the train and sold them on the platform under the lights

    I do remember too that Warburton was affected by a kind of blackout in case the Japanese has plans to bomb us there
    … to get home to Geelong we had to catch several all seemed like an epic journey to a small boy

  11. Deblonay – fascinating, Clapp was a fan of fruit.

    I’m curious, while I dealt it ever would happen but in your view would it be possible to re-connect the Warbuton line to the network and was it a flat line or was it very hilly.

    I know the Healesville line was mostly flat and if re-connected could add two or three stations to the network.

  12. I dont hink th e pm should address par.iment

    She should not lower herself
    It would be al over the press for days , re hashed by every
    One one and no one.

    It s ending now
    People that do not want to believe still want

  13. [ I’ll wait for some more polls before I start getting excited.]
    The real test is is over the next 3 or 4 weeks when millions of households and businesses will get their first power bills that include the full effect of the carbon price.

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