Seat of the week: Richmond

Coastal development has transformed the one-time National/Country Party stronghold of Richmond over the last few decades, with present Labor incumbent Justine Elliot building up a solid margin since unseating Larry Anthony in 2004.

Richmond has covered the north-eastern corner of New South Wales since federation, shrinking steadily over time due to ongoing coastal development (which among other things has cost it the river that gives it its name). It currently extends from Tweed Heads on the border as far south as Lennox Head just to the north of Ballina, extending inland to the western boundaries of the Tweed and Lismore municipalities (although Lismore itself is located beyond the southern boundary in Page). Once a jewel in the National/Country Party crown, its electoral complexion changed as it became increasingly dominated by Byron Bay and Tweed Heads. The area’s counter-cultural tendency is reflected by pockets of support for the Greens, including four of the party’s five strongest booths nationally at the 2010 election (Wilsons Creek, Goonengerry, Nimbin and Main Arm Upper, with Rosebank and The Channon not far behind), with their total vote across the electorate at 16.2%.

Richmond was first won for the Country Party by Roland Green shortly after the party’s creation in 1922, and has spent much of its history as a fiefdom of the Anthony dynasty. It was held from 1937 to 1957 by Larry Anthony, from 1957 to 1984 by Larry’s son Doug, who was party leader from 1971 to 1984, and from 1996 to 2004 by Doug’s son Larry. Doug Anthony’s immediate successor was another party leader in Charles Blunt, who emerged a shock loser at the 1990 election when the independent candidacy of anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott drew a rash of new enrolments from Nimbin-area types. When Caldicott fell just short of overhauling the Labor candidate, her preferences fuelled a 7.1% swing to Labor and a victory for their candidate Neville Newell. Larry Anthony failed to recover the seat for the Nationals on his first attempt in 1993, before romping home on the back of an 8.5% swing in 1996. A 6.0% swing in 1998 brought Anthony back down to the wire, and he again survived only narrowly in 2001.

Labor finally snared the seat in 2004, when a 1.9% swing enabled their candidate Justine Elliot to scrape over the line by 301 votes. Elliot went on to serve in the junior ministerial porfolio of ageing in the government’s first term, but was bumped down after the 2010 election to parliamentary secretary for trade, which both she and the Prime Minister insisted was at her own request. She retained the position despite publicly supporting Kevin Rudd’s leadership bid in February 2012, but eventually moved to the back bench in the reshuffle that followed the departures of Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans in February 2013. Elliot again maintained the move was made on her own initiative, as she believed her campaigining against the locally sensitive issue of coal seam gas mining conflicted with her responsibilities in the trade portfolio.

The preselected Nationals candidate for the coming election is Matthew Fraser, 34-year-old owner of two local Hungry Jacks franchises. Fraser won preselection ahead of university lecturer Scott Cooper, newsagency owner John McMahon and the candidate from 2010, Myocum beef farmer Alan Hunter. The Liberals have agreed not to field a candidate under the terms of the state parties’ coalition agreement, despite having been only slightly outpolled by the Nationals in 2010 – by 21.2% to 19.1% on the primary vote and 25.3% to 20.8% at the second last preference exclusion. Their candidate from 2010, former Tweed mayor Joan van Lieshout, quit the party in September 2012 and said she was considering running as an independent.

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.

1,837 comments on “Seat of the week: Richmond”

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  1. Hmmm…interesting to note that Chifley lost a seat once with a swing against him of 16%.

    Obviously, with numbers like that, the Labor party was wiped out for all time and Chiff himself faded into obscurity….

    …oh, wait….

  2. Repost for OC’s education.

    To quote someone who knows.

    [Tripodi’s power among his fellow right-wing MPs made him the target for elimination among right-wing heavies at the party’s Sussex Street headquarters. On their telling, he was to blame for everything.

    The truth? Whenever Sussex Street had a bad or risky idea – like rolling Morris Iemma, or replacing Nathan Rees with Frank Sartor – Tripodi was standing there saying, “Don’t do this”.]

    Facts of course don’t mean anything in this world of perceptions.

  3. The sitting Nationalist member for Richmond in 1922 was Walter Massy Greene. The Country Party candidate, Roland Green, had lost a leg in World War I. To avoid confusion between two candidates with same surname, he ran on the clever slogan “Vote for the Green without an E.” (“Without a knee” – geddit?)

  4. [Facts of course don’t mean anything in this world of perceptions.]

    Nope. Which is why so many of them got caught up in Hartcher’s delusions of a, well, you know what.

  5. Darn, thanks for your comments on the previous thread. I agree with your comments. I think the LNP really don’t know what they’re doing, and misunderstand what happened to the economy during the Howard years.

    The theme should be that the GFC is not yet over. It is becoming ingrained in Europe and the UK. The US is just slowly adapting. Japan has yet to find a way to escape its own post-bubble paralysis. China has to re-balance its economy, which will have negative effects for Australia (though positive ones elsewhere).

    There are a lot of similarities between this economy and pre-GFC Canada, USA, UK and Spain, especially in relation to imbalances in our external accounts. Because the exchange rate is not readily adjusting – due to financial repression in other economies – any decline in export income will show up directly in our fiscal balance and in the labour market. It is a toxic combination.

  6. confessions

    [Pointing out your illogic is suddenly divisive and dogmatic?

    And you have the hide to declare ME the one who has a problem with people I disagree with!

    Honestly MTBW you are prone to bouts of nonsensical hysteria when your views are challenged!]

    Pot – Kettle comes to mind!

    Joined the ALP yet?

  7. jv

    From the previous thread I agree with you on Clare he would be a huge loss and I would hate to see Keating’s seat go to the Libs.

  8. Richmond has an incredible disparity between state and federal voting. It is possibly not as safe in september as it might notionally appear.

  9. [Pot – Kettle comes to mind!]

    Really? I generally scroll past idiotic comments I disagree with. Today however your inconsistency was too obvious not to point out. How about instead of flinging about insults at other commenters you deal with your cognitive dissonance.

    [Joined the ALP yet?]

    Actually I have.

    So, about your inconsistencies on Swan’s loyalty? Any remarks?

  10. Rua@2

    In a past life i knew joe tripodi and his political ilk on a personal level. At the time they only cared about beating the labor left. Methinks that once they actually had some real power it was still all about their personal gains. Their vision was very narrow.

  11. Confessions


    [Really? I generally scroll past idiotic comments I disagree with. Today however your inconsistency was too obvious not to point out. How about instead of flinging about insults at other commenters you deal with your cognitive dissonance.]

    Really? Flinging insults is your brief not mine.

    [So, about your inconsistencies on Swan’s loyalty? Any remarks?]

    Nope I haven’t found any!

  12. Mtbw@8

    It doesn’t matter if it was the seat of keating or methusalar it really is unlikely to be a labor loss. Unless labor are or close to single digits.

  13. bbs

    I don’t know how it will turn out I certainly hope not but as I have said before seats around here are experiencing real changes in demographics.

  14. So Joe was just a normal joe in the Terrigals who couldn’t keep the hotheads under control. Thank God he was there what would the state be like without him.

    Just to be precise, apparently Joe:
    1. Did not lose his trousers in parliament house ( this is when his career should have been stopped)
    2. Did not stack branches
    3. Had nothing to do with Orangegrove
    4. Did not try to protect the councillors in Wollongong

    I am sure others will remember whatever I have forgotten.

    In reality Joe was a leading member of a corrupt faction – only now do we know how corrupt and as Wran used to say “if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas”.

  15. OC

    [In reality Joe was a leading member of a corrupt faction – only now do we know how corrupt and as Wran used to say “if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas”.]

    Spot on!

  16. Mtbw

    If the libs can only manage 29.9% of the vote in Bankstown in the 2011 state election they are most unlikely to win blaxland.

  17. [Flinging insults is your brief not mine.]

    Except it is you declaring other commenters divisive and dogmatic, not me.

    And don’t congratulate me for joining the ALP when you yourself can’t be bothered to be a member yourself. If your congratulations were genuinely heartfelt you’d put your money and your effort behind your concern and get in there and fight.

    [Nope I haven’t found any!]

    Yeah, and denial isn’t just a river somewhere. Here we have our problem.

    I’m simply astounded that so many ALP voters and members of your vintage purport to back a party which espouses collectivist politics, yet vest so much angst into the search for a single leadership messiah.

    It’s so Liberal!

  18. [blackburnpseph
    Posted Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 9:34 pm | PERMALINK

    Was that not matt brown (mp for kiama) losing his trews?]

    …and there I was thinking it was Fraser!

  19. You gotta love the gumption of someone who has just joined the ALP reprimanding someone who had been a member for decades.

    Interesting place PB, aint it? :devil:

  20. It seems like SkyNews are morphing with increased velocity to be a FoxNews clone.

    Rupert will be happy with his creation, as he visits his subjects

    [@vanOnselenP: …also on #AustralianAgenda our panel will examine the political year so far: Paul Kelly, Piers Akerman & Troy Bramston. 8:30am AEDT]

    And if anyone has not yet cancelled Foxtel, highly recommended.

  21. Oakeshott @17

    I mentioned previuosly that i knew joe tripodi and his political ilk personally. For these people politics and their own advancement was all. If you were of no use or refused you were cut loose and never acknowledged again.

  22. After a function at Parliament House in 2000 Joe invited a Democrat staffer ( probably ACE’s) into his room. The lights suddenly went off and when they came back on Joe was sans cullotte. A statement accusing him of sexual assault was made to police but withdrawn the next day. The investigating officer was allegedly one of his stackees.

  23. [confessions
    Posted Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 9:37 pm | PERMALINK

    MTBW is not an ALP member.]

    But I understand s/he was, was a very active member, was highly respected and probably doesn’t deserve to be treated the way you treat him/her given you have only joined the party a few microseconds ago….don’t you think?

  24. ML

    confessions is right I am not an ALP member any more the majority of branches in our electorate no longer exist.

    It is lovely to know that confessions has been a member for a month or so I am sure she will be running the branch in no time when she comes out of her shell.

  25. Matt Brown of course was caught doing dry Spanish with Noreen Hay to celebrate being made Police Minister.

    What is it with these Terrigals?

  26. [ruawake
    Posted Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm | PERMALINK
    Joe Tripodi should be thanked for the deal on capacity-sharing at the port of Newcastle.

    Never heard of it? Thought not, it only makes billions in revenue.]

    Did he leave any for the NSW taxpayer?

  27. [and probably doesn’t deserve to be treated the way you treat him/her given you have only joined the party a few microseconds ago….don’t you think?]

    Treated her?

    I’ve pointed out the logical inconsistencies in MTBW’s positions, not just on Swan but a whole host of other issues. I have been factual, rational and logical. If this counts as ‘treatment’ according to the concern trolls, then so be it.

    And if my non membership of Labor can be used to attack me, as it often was by MTBW, bemused, feeney and others, then I reckon it’s fair enough to give it back to them now I’m the member and they aren’t.

  28. 19
    Posted Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm | PERMALINK
    In reality Joe was a leading member of a corrupt faction – only now do we know how corrupt and as Wran used to say “if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas”.
    Spot on!

    All true.

  29. cc. …. an artfull Liar, a complete Fake, apparently from a family of such. sorry this is not stronger.
    Contrary, Cant, and a borrowed life.

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