Seat of the week: Gilmore

Joanna Gash is taking her personal vote into retirement after 17 years, but Labor still has its work cut out in her Liberal-leaning south coast New South Wales seat.

Gilmore covers a stretch of southern coastal New South Wales, starting in the north with Shellharbour and Kiama at the southern tip of the Illawarra, and extending southwards through Nowra to Ulladulla. According to the 2011 census results, Gilmore has the equal second highest median age out of the 150 House of Representatives electorates, along with the fifteenth lowest median family income. Such is its combination of urban Labor and conservative rural areas that it is actually the wealthier areas where support for Labor is the strongest.

Labor has only won the seat once since its creation in 1984, and has trod water electorally despite very favourable redistributions in 1993 and 2010. Both involved the addition of territory in the Illawarra, most recently with a gain of 20,000 voters around Shellharbour to counter-balance the transfer of the Batemans Bay area to Eden-Monaro. That turned a Liberal margin from the 2007 election of 4.1% into a notional Labor margin of 0.4%, but the Liberals easily retained the seat on the back of a 5.7% swing. This was especially concentrated in the Illawarra booths, where margins that had been inflated by a working class backlash against WorkChoices in 2007 were slashed by around 10%.

Gilmore originally extended deep inland through Goulburn to Young and Cowra, and was held for the Nationals by John Sharp from 1984 to 1993. Sharp moved to Hume after the Nationals-voting interior areas were transferred to it in 1993. Gilmore absorbed Labor-voting Kiama in exchange, which made Labor competitive for the first time and further weakened the Nationals relative to the Liberals. A 1.1% swing to Labor at the 1993 election saw their candidate Peter Knott emerge a surprise winner, with the Nationals only able to poll 5.1%. The Nationals left the field clear for the Liberals at the 1996 election, at which Knott’s 0.5% margin was obliterated by a swing of 6.7%.

The incoming Liberal member was Joanna Gash, a Wingecarribee councillor who had been hand-picked by the party’s state executive to target what at the time was a key front-line seat. Despite retaining a fairly low profile nationally, Gash achieved strong electoral performances both in 1998, where a swing to Labor of 2.2% compared with a statewide result of 4.1%, and especially at the 2001 election, at which a swing in her favour of 10.1% was the biggest in the country. Labor’s candidate on that occasion was Peter Knott, attempting a comeback two elections after his defeat in 1996, who was reckoned to have aided the Liberal cause by asserting American foreign policy had “come back to bite them” in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Further evidence for the Knott effect was provided by the 4.6% correction in Labor’s favour in 2004. Labor picked up a further 5.3% swing in 2007, roughly in line with the state average, which reduced Gash’s margin to 4.1%.

In January 2012 Gash announced she would be scaling back her political career by running for mayor of Shoalhaven in the September local government election, at which she was duly succeeded with 63.2% of the vote, and bowing out of federal politics after serving out her term. Gash’s simultaneous performance of both roles in the interim had internal critics calling for the newly introduced regime excluding state parliamentarians from serving in local government to be extended to the federal sphere. George Williams, University of New South Wales law professor and unsuccessful Labor preselection candidate, further raised concerns that doing so might fall foul of the Constitution’s injunction that federal members must not hold an “office of profit under the Crown”.

The new Liberal candidate is Ann Sudmalis, a former Kiama councillor and staffer to Gash who won a fiercely contested April 2012 preselection with the backing of her old boss. Opposing Sudmalis was Andrew Guile, a Shoalhaven councillor and education administrator who was supported by Kiama MP and factional moderate Gareth Ward. Guile had also once been a staffer to Gash, but the two had since fallen out. Sudmalis prevailed at the preselection vote with the support of 16 delegates against 10 for Guile, along with four for Grant Schultz, Ulladulla resident and son of Hume MP Alby Schultz, and one for Catherine Shields, a marketing consultant from Meroo Meadow. Guile went on to run against Gash in the mayoral election but polled only 5.7%, while still retaining his ward seat.

Labor’s candidate for the third successive election will be local party activist Neil Reilly, who was preselected unopposed. Reilly was initially rebuffed by the party’s national executive before the 2010 election, which rejected his endorsement by local branches and installed former South Sydney rugby league player David Boyle. However, fierce local resistance to the move prompted Boyle to withdraw. The Nationals threatened to field a candidate as it positioned itself for coalition negotiations, with the highly visible former rock singer Gary “Angry” Anderson mentioned as a potential contender, but the arrangement eventually reached has left the seat vacant for the Liberals.

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.

1,383 comments on “Seat of the week: Gilmore”

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  1. Can I just say this is the first time I’ve ever made the first comment on a general thread? That’s why Berlin is the place to be!

    I used to have some respect for Sheridan but now he’s just another Morgoth press sewer-dweller. Behind the Morgoth firewall is the best place for him.

    Time for dinner. Tschuss!

  2. Just watched Lateline. I wondered a bit when Bob Carr was brought on board but I must say that he impresses me with his ability to get straight to the point without dithering about thinking what best weasel words to use – and when he gets a gotcha question which doesn’t quite add up – he tells it like it is – he is obviously right across the portfolio. JB would be way out of her league. Also, the Prime Minister’s speech at DFAT today was gracious and you could tell that she was genuinely excited. For the life of me, I don’t understand why she generates such hostility in some people. Sometimes I think I’m living in a parallel universe!!

  3. morning bludgers
    just watching lateline myself – bob carr has been excellent as FM – he is so concise in stark comparison to rudd.

  4. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    An inauspicious start for the church at the Victorian inquiry.
    The Grattanosaurus not impressed with Abbott’s foreign affairs credentials.
    What a first rate ass wipe!
    Alan Moir not impressed with the UN.

    David Pope with a creepy view of the security council.

  5. And from the Land of the Free –

    If the Repugs win this election it will not bode well for women in the US. The standing of the US in the world would soon return to the odious state of the Bush years.
    Obama coins the term “Romnesia”.
    What a lot of crap!!!!

  6. [“The suggestions that my book, Tales From The Political Trenches, is anything but my own work, and that I have had to rely on Kevin Rudd or anyone else to write it for me, is offensive and demeaning and, dare I say, sexist,” Ms McKew told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.]




  7. As I was listening to E Alberici on LL interviewing B Carr I had a feeling that she struggled articulating the questions as if they had been composed by someone else. I immediately thought of G Sheridan. Sure enough, in his opinion piece this morning he mentions the topics of Rwanda and rebels in Congo and the cost among other things.

  8. FFS Hartcher tries to rewrite the history books. Shame we still remember one of Rudds promises was to end the bitter partisanship and division that had developed under the rodent.Both in parliament and outside. He tried but as Obama found out in the US the otherside threw it back in his face and became even morer partisan.
    Health Warning: May Induce Nausea

    [Where George W. Bush is a dead cat in US politics today, Howard more closely resembles a purring lion]

    [We heart Howard: both sides want to be like the Little Master

    Here, the political leaders speak of the former conservative prime minister with respect and admiration. On both sides of politics, they use the name John Howard as a touchstone, citing him as the gold standard for personal conduct and for good policy. Sure, it’s highly selective.]

  9. Greg Sheridan wrote:
    [By the way, as I reported weeks ago, the government had more than enough pledges from foreign nations to win this vote some time ago. It denied this outright when I reported it, yet yesterday confirmed directly that it had pledges for 150 votes (of which 10 didn’t deliver) for some time.]

    He probable should have warned Abbott and the Canberra press Gallery so he didn’t make fools of themselves trying to set the Government up for a fall.

  10. CTar1


    Sure, it’s highly selective.


    The journos have gone troppo!
    I read Sheridan and then read Hartcher and had to check. No it is not April first. Perhaps ……

    [“Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad.”]

  11. It seems when it comes to the big board of international diplomacy scribes like Greg Sheridan only respect the 5 permanent members. If you’re one of the other 10 you get dissed by Greg. This is typical of the “big end of town” mindset of the odious OZ. Obsequious to Big Money, to Big GunBarrel. Contemptuous or condescending to the rest.

    And when it comes to their own dwindling influence, riddled with envy and bitterness from being excluded from the real centres of power.

    But isn’t it a blessing that few people now read idiots like Sheridan ever since he’s been hidden behind the paywall. And isn’t it a hoot that getting behind the paywall without paying for it is such a trivially easy thing to do. And so both of them, these idiots like Sheridan and these odious proprietors like Murdoch, are hit where it hurts them most: their opinionated irrelevent tripes and their falling share prices.

    Out backwards, old media. Out backwards.

  12. CNN’s GUT CHECK | for October 19, 2012 | 5 p.m.
    – n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
    BREAKING: Florida, Florida, Florida… A new CNN/ORC poll shows a tight race in Florida, with 49% of likely voters choosing Mitt Romney and 48% picking Barack Obama. Margin of error +/- 4%.
    DEVELOPING: Unemployment falls in seven of the nine states CNN has identified as toss ups… Unemployment declined in 41 states in September, seven of which are key toss up states in the election. Ohio, which has 18 electoral votes, saw its unemployment rate decline to 7% in September, down from 7.2% just a month earlier.
    But the news is not all rosy. Unemployment rates in Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and North Carolina all have higher rates than when President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.

    The race for the White House will be won or lost in nine battleground statesspread across the country. With only 18 days remaining until Election Day, we are turning to political experts from each state to help us better understand what is happening on the ground. Today, we turn to veteran Nevada political expert Jon Ralston, whose reporting can be found at and his daily political television show.
    Gut Check: Public polling shows that Nevada is a true toss up state with both candidates having a shot at winning the state’s six electoral votes on November 6. What is your sense about who has an edge 18 days before Election Day?
    RALSTON: “President Obama has the edge. Nearly every public poll all year has shown him with a slight lead. And in the last few months, the Democrats have dramatically increased their registration lead. It is now larger in Clark County (Las Vegas) than it was in 2008, when Obama won the state by 12 points. Obama’s pollster here – Mark Mellman – has the president up by eight points. It may not be that big, but he is ahead in all credible polls I have seen.”

  13. dedalus

    [It seems when it comes to the big board of international diplomacy scribes like Greg Sheridan only respect the 5 permanent members]
    He respects none of them except for the US where the words fawning and worship also come into play. The UK can receive some praise but only when they support the US.

  14. Good Morning Bludgers! 🙂

    I see Peter Hartcher is attempting an ‘Etch-A-Sketch’ on John Winston ‘Rodent’ Howard.

    Dare I say, that the Labor Party does the namecheck thing merely as a way of counterpointing ‘The Rodent’ to ‘The Mad Monk’, as opposed to out of any deeply held respect for the man?

    Maybe, a few in the NSW Right machine might look on with professional admiration at a fellow political operator and ‘Toe Cutter’, able to keep the troops in line with ruthless efficiency, but that would be about it.

  15. Fta:

    8:11AM Saturday Oct 20, 2012
    3,122 online now
    See today’s paper

    Fairfax Media

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    Column 8

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    National Times

    Budget shock: $21b shortfall

    October 20, 2012

    201 reading now

    Peter Martin
    Peter Martin
    Economics correspondent

    View more articles from Peter Martin

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    ?In balancing the budget, the Gillard government has made sensible spending cuts while winding back inefficient and outdated tax concessions” … Treasurer Wayne Swan.

    “In balancing the budget, the Gillard government has made sensible spending cuts while winding back inefficient and outdated tax concessions” … Treasurer Wayne Swan. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

    NEXT week’s budget update will reveal spending cuts and revenue measures worth an extraordinary $4 billion this financial year – a task made all the more difficult by the fact the year has only eight months to run.

    Shocking revenue downgrades to be included in the update reveal that since May, deteriorating international conditions and collapsing export prices have knocked $21 billion from projected tax revenue over the forward estimates and $4 billion from forecast tax revenue this financial year.

    Without action the downgrades would wipe out this year’s planned $1.5 billion surplus and those planned for the next two years as well.

    Writing in today’s Herald, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, reaffirms his commitment to balance the budget next week but says he will cut with care, doing “everything possible to protect jobs and help pave the way for classic Labor reforms”.

    “In balancing the budget, the Gillard government has made sensible spending cuts while winding back inefficient and outdated tax concessions. We have balanced fiscal discipline with continuing investments in people – our most valuable natural resource – through vital reforms in skills and education, a national broadband network and the national disability insurance scheme,” he writes.

    The Herald understands the revenue downgrades overwhelmingly result from weaker international conditions. The forecasts for Australia remain strong with economic growth of 3 to 3.5 per cent over the next two years, continuing low unemployment and contained inflation.

    The publication of the virtually unchanged domestic economic forecasts will put further pressure on the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, who has already been asked to explain why his predictions of “almost unimaginable” inflation and job losses resulting from the carbon tax have not materialised.

    Read more:

    Insert wry smile here: 🙂

  16. C@tmomma

    [Sorry about that mistake.]
    Quite understandable. You went to the SMH . Therfore you would have been greeted with that photo of the grinning rodent. It would put anyone off their game.

  17. There could well be a marked bounce for labor in both polls this weekend.

    There have been too many plus signs for the government lately to say that any other possibility is likely. Spring is not only in the air – it’s also in labor’s steps. By contrast, the body language of opposition spokespeople has been really negative this past week. Glum and crotchety in fact.

    Rudd and Gillard finally mentioning each other’s names without contorting their mouths is also encouraging. A small sign, sure, but is it also a signal for a likely rapprochement? I think it may be. Bob Carr seems to be acting as the intermediary. The man is a calming influence, and not only on the intemperate questioning of Sales and Alberici. Moreover, the electorate is gullible enough to be taken in by his soft diplomacy on the matter. That can only amount to a two or so percent swing back to our side of goodness.

  18. Something from The Sphere of Influence. Paywalled but usual way around that.

    [Obama pioneered the use of social media in his 2008 White House campaign, and is still way ahead of the Republicans in this area.

    “We’ve been working really closely to learn lessons from Obama,” a Labor source told me yesterday……….
    Obama’s pollster advised that, in advertising, too, middle-ground voters don’t want to be shouted at or told what to do or think.

    They want information and a chance to deliberate on it.

    Consequently many of Obama’s TV commercials have been longer than the usual 30 seconds, are delivered in a soft rather than hectoring voice, refer to a plan and provide an internet link where voters can get more information.

    Labor is already looking at a similar approach.]

  19. [Now the Great Train Snobbery! Osborne caught out refusing to budge from first class]

    On yer bike:
    [Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell resigns over ‘Plebgate’]

    Dave & George’s excellent adventure goes on (and on and on …)

  20. Another ex pollie trying to pump up sales for a new book.

    I reccall Gillard saying she never backgrounds against her opponents and freed the press from any obligations of alleged secrecy back when she defeated the hapless Rudd ib February.

    I reckon I’d trust Gillard’s word in this case. Especially since it’s opinion dressed up as news.

  21. [Consequently many of Obama’s TV commercials have been longer than the usual 30 seconds, are delivered in a soft rather than hectoring voice, refer to a plan and provide an internet link where voters can get more information.

    Labor is already looking at a similar approach.]

    Thank god, fed up with “stop the boats” and “working families”. Oh and I don’t mind the real Julia, more of it I say.

  22. [But there is a more serious question for Abbott. The odour of sexism will linger because he has been playing the gender card against Gillard. He drew it from the bottom of the deck, on behalf of the minority of men who may never get used to the idea of a female PM. What he never counted on was Gillard calling his bluff. Now that she has, the idea that Abbott can unify the nation if he wins the next election seems just that little bit harder to imagine.]

    The final para from Mega’s effort in todays Australian.

  23. Excellent article by Bronwyn Pike, retired Victorian Labor minister.
    [I am continually astounded that programs such as Keeping up with the Kardashians are wildly popular and that the home deposit is regularly sacrificed on traditional weddings complete with virginal white dress, squeezed into after months of virtual starvation. When did bridal showers and hens’ nights rear their heads again, or the notion of giving your bloke a ”leave pass”, implying that deep down he really wants to do things women don’t approve of?

    Certainly commercial interests have identified that there is lots of money to be made by reinforcing gender stereotypes, and their power is enormous – it has never been easy to step beyond conformity. Weddings are a huge business because no one made much money out of a beach-side ceremony with the bride in cheesecloth. The market for make-up, body treatments and plastic surgery was in danger of a ”women’s lib”-led collapse, so the marketers have had to go into overdrive.]
    Read more:

  24. guytaus

    This was from a link from the page you linked. An article in the International Herald Tribune. It had some great lines.

    [ Ms. Gillard called her opponent, Tony Abbott — to his face — a sexist, a misogynist and a hypocrite. Then she really went to work.]

    [ Seated right across a table from Ms. Gillard, Mr. Abbott mostly sat through it like an ashen-faced schoolboy.]

  25. Shady Lady
    ‘Sometimes I think I’m living in a parallel universe!!’

    Welcome to planet Bludger!

    It’s one of the better parallel universes.

    PS There’s a 32 acre farm in southern Tasmania where Paul Keating is still PM. (and I’m the GG)

  26. poroti,
    On Planet America last night ‘the guy who wrote the book on negative ads in political campaigns’ explained how the Obama Team are using a new technique whereby they make 2 ads on each subject, put them up on You Tube, and then see which one gets the most hits. That then becomes the one they go with in the TV campaign.

    I might also add that I would imagine that this process, if played out on the Conservative side, may have the opposite effect, as the sort of Tea Party Conservatism that has been practiced in America, and is followed here by the Coalition, revolves around enraging people against their political opponents. Therefore, if you put up the most popular You Tube ad for angry Conservatives, onto the TV in the same way, it would most likely have a chilling effect on more reasonable voters in the middle ground.

  27. gigi, that comment re late line, worth a phone call to
    Senator conroys MELBOURNE office not his electorate office.
    i think they must be made aware of things like that.

  28. Good Morning Gorgeous Bludgers!

    It is heaven on a stick here on the Gold Coast and I have promised the cherubs a visit to wet n wild (I’ve organised a surpise visit while we are there from their cuzzie cherubs, which should be great fun) so I only have a short while to post.

    Agree on the Carr as FM gig. He has a fantastic ability to call out the journo nonsense without putting them offside and he has the ability to cut through with his message. Thought Kevvie was great as FM but I reckon Carr is even better.

  29. “@BernardKeane: Is there any difference between The Australian & the Menzies House blog, except the former costs more & the latter is more entertaining?”

  30. Fudged surplus in doubt, Rudd McKew team back in action, boats streaming in, businesses going to the wall… Well folks we do have a seat on the UNSC and a new meaning for a word. A word I can’t mention for fear of retraining.

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