Seat of the week: Barton

This week we visit yet another endangered Labor seat in Sydney which the party is unaccustomed to losing.

Barton has covered Kogarah and surrounding areas on the north shore of the Georges River since its creation in 1922, currently extending north through Rockdale to Earlwood and Kingsgrove. Past members for Barton include Herbert “Doc” Evatt, who won the seat from the United Australia Party in 1940 and held it until 1958, when he moved to Hunter after close shaves in 1951 (when World War II hero Nancy Wake, running for the Liberals, came within 243 votes of victory) and 1955 (when Evatt prevailed by 226 votes). The seat nonetheless stayed with Labor until the 1966 disaster, subsequently changing hands along with government in 1975 and 1983. Gary Punch held the seat for generally narrow margins in the 1980s, but put enough fat on the margin in 1993 that his successor Robert McClelland survived the 1996 landslide.

A member of the NSW Right, McClelland held a series of senior portfolios after entering the shadow ministry in 1998 and served as Attorney-General since the election of the Rudd government. McClelland emerged as an important part of the Kevin Rudd camp during Julia Gillard’s prime ministership, an association going back to Rudd’s ascendancy over Kim Beazley in December 2006. An oblique reference by McClelland to the AWU affair in June 2012 was invoked as validating the subsequent blizzard of media interest in the matter, and was generally seen as a deliberate effort to undermine her. He had been dropped from the ministry after Rudd’s failed leadership bid the previous February, which followed two months from his demotion to emergency management and housing.

McClelland announced in January 2013 that he would bow out at the election, causing concern to Labor that the NSW government might seek to precipitate a by-election by offering him a position on the state’s Industrial Relations Commission. Reports in mid-2011 suggested McClelland was being advised to step aside to avoid a preselection stoush. It was thought the seat might provide an entry for former Premier Morris Iemma, who told the media he would not be interested if it involved “backstabbing friends”. The Iemma for Barton idea was again raised in October 2012 by Bob Carr, who speculating on the possibility that McClelland might decide to retire. When that duly came to pass in January 2013, Iemma did not emerge as a starter for the seat, encouraging the conclusion that he was not fancying Labor’s electoral prospects.

Labor will instead take the field with Steve McMahon, chief executive of the NSW Trainers Association (as in thoroughbred horses) and former mayor of Hurstville. McMahon won a local preselection ballot with 128 preselection votes against 101 for Shane O’Brien, Rockdale mayor and NSW Public Service Association assistant secretary, a former adviser to Tony Burke. McMahon reportedly had backing from Morris Iemma and state upper house MP Shaoquett Moselmane, key to votes from the Lebanese Muslim community, leading O’Brien to complain that his own support had come instead from “free-thinking individuals”. O’Brien’s opponents accused him of being a sore loser who had himself had courted the Macedonian and Greek vote. Moselmane had himself been a nominee early in the process but he quickly withdrew, amid suggestions he was merely seeking leverage to shore up his position on the upper house ticket.

The Liberal candidate is Nick Varvaris, accountant and mayor of Kogarah.

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.

1,124 comments on “Seat of the week: Barton”

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  1. [QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman has demanded that Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott put federal-state relations on the September election agenda, calling for a formal review and possible referendum to better define the powers and responsibilities of each level of government.]

    Wot. like the one your mob voted against when Hawke tried?

  2. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    If you reckon I’m going to link the Hartcher/Crean story you’ve another think coming!
    Mike Carlton sees Maggie Thatcher off, ridicules the fraudband launch and hits O’Farrell’s recreational hunting in national parks. A good one.
    This will be an interesting study.
    Sickening to contemplate. Hyacinth will be in her element!
    Talk your way out of this one Malcolm. The NIMBYs will be out in force.
    And this Fairfax editorial doen’t speak hihly of the Coalition’s fraudband plans.
    Andrew Dyson’s cartoon on fraudband is a good one.

    David Pope gives Julia a disturbing make over.
    Pat Campbell launches a new logo for Holdens.

  3. And from the Land of the Free –

    Turtle man Mitch McConnell has been caught out.
    They have severely lost the plot!

    A huge wedge in thge GOP.
    This week’s compendium of gun fails.
    Mike Papantonio on rape in the military.

  4. If you reckon I’m going to link the Hartcher/Crean story you’ve another think coming!

    I won’t link to it bk, but this by Crean is too funny to ignore, he is so thick and self absorbed that he doesn’t even realise what he is saying.

    [Mr Crean also said federal Labor was deluding itself that it was in trouble in the polls solely because of destabilisation by Kevin Rudd. “I’ve been through destabilisation,” when he was Labor leader in 2001-03, “and we never went this low.”

    During an extensive interview, Mr Crean reopened wounds that were supposedly healing after his failed attempt to install Mr Rudd as prime minister in March.]

  5. Apparently Reublican Congressman Steve Stockman has come up with a pithy slogan for a bumper sticker summarising what the Republicans are all about:

    [If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted.]

    It’s not as good as Nuke baby whales for Jesus but it’s pretty close.

    Will the day ever come when SMS speak for “hilariously stupid but nasty” is GOP? It can’t be long, surely.

  6. When he first came into Parliament. Crean was heralded as a sure thing to be a PM one day. He was pompous and had great expectations (and, despite all this, was not an entirely bad bloke, although a bit too ADHD for my taste: he must have been an insufferable child)..

    But he is seriously lacking in charisma. Pity.

    And now here he is spilling his guts to Hartcher. I suppose (given his criticisms of Rudd’s disloyalty) he feels it’s ok because it’s “on the record”.

    While he doesn’t mention him specifically, I think his tirade is mainly directed against Swan, who he hates and who he has bagged publicly before.

    A sad, bitter, lonely man. But talking to that sleaze bucket Hartcher is pretty unforgiveable.

  7. [daretotread
    Posted Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 7:18 am | Permalink


    Who are Crean supporters (if any).
    BTW Fred – he is a Victorian not NSW right]

    True, but would/has Crean stood up to them. There is division within Labor (now very public) Gillard has won, the NSW right is not part of the winning.

    I still think Gillard may still win, but she is going to do it without the bitter old men of Labor and without NSW.

  8. For what it is worth the many footpath cabinets in Brisbane city (relatively small ones) have each been painted by artists.

    Initially – about 12 years ago the quality of the artwork was pretty good – they must have paid real artists, but when they have been renewed it is pretty ordinary

  9. Fred

    Not sure what you mean about the NSW right.

    Tony Burke was a NSW right wing lad, close to Obeid and co, and there are many other NSW right who are solid Gillard backers – Bradbury,Rowlands spring to mind but there are many others.
    The group that split seem to be a subset of the NSW right – BUT NOT THE ARBIB/OBEID faction

  10. frednk

    Posted Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Posted Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 7:18 am | Permalink


    Who are Crean supporters (if any).
    BTW Fred – he is a Victorian not NSW right

    I still think Gillard may still win, but she is going to do it without the bitter old men of Labor and without NSW.

    Win without NSW?! That is just not possible. If NSW goes south for Labor they could lose up to 15 seats. What is she going to carry all of WA, a state which disliked her in 2010? Even in Queensland the best they can hope is to keep the eight seats they currently hold. VIC and SA are already maxed out for Labor so even if she loses less then 5 instead of 15 seats she still could not win. The truth is labor can win, but it would require a massive meltdown by the LNP to happen really soon. This is coming from a someone who was born in SA.

  11. Morning all.

    [What Gillard has had to put up with is now becoming very public. If given half a chance I am sure the NSW right would have created the same mess as in NSW. Labor is very lucky they have had Gillard to stop it.]

    Indeed, which is why anyone with any common sense would’ve swung their support behind Gillard instead of THLV, who had the backing of the NSW right.

    But how typical that just when there’s clear air from leadershit and we see the opposition take some hits under scrutiny, up pops another muppet to shoot the govt in the foot again.

  12. From someone with direct personal experience:

    [Stephen Spencer ‏@sspencer_63 1m
    For what it’s worth Simon always talked about the importance of loyalty, but what he meant was to him. Certainly didn’t experience it myself]

  13. good the media are talking JWH at this

    time, makes many realise they don’t want the golden years SO CALLED by abbott back

    NO thank you.

  14. [The Nationals are set to decide on their candidate to challenge independent MP Tony Windsor in the federal seat of New England.

    Hundreds of the National Party faithful will attend today’s preselection vote at the West Tamworth Leagues Club.

    Queensland Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce is the favourite to take out the preselection battle against David Gregory, a 34-year-old former high school teacher who now writes software packages for farmers.]


    No doubt the numpty Nat faithful will lock in behind a grandstanding turkey instead of someone who actually works to help farmers.

  15. I don’t worry to much about what mr crean has said to the media
    I think the public are well and truly over it

    the majority may feel sorry for him , that he has to still discuss it,

    many people in life just don’t retire at the correct time of their career no matter where they work

    they hang out for so long that when they do retire they are forgotten very quickly

    sad really, people who contribute should know when its time to move on and if they like contributing to society

    volunteer some where they can help from their life experiences

  16. The Hammock Dweller was on LL last night:

    [Former federal treasurer Peter Costello says Woodside Petroleum’s decision to shelve a multi-billion dollar gas project in the Kimberly shows Australia needs to do more to improve its international competitiveness.]

    Woodside’s decision on JPP is actually very bad news for the Emperor, who pushed JPP as the only site rather than countenance other options. He wanted a quick and dirty turnaround approval process, but got stymied in the end.

    There is also a view that cheap, fracked gas has dealt a blow to the viability of natural gas production.

  17. These two posted at the end of the last thread:


    Dan and horse made it as far as the second well at Beersheba.

    Neither moved on after the decision was made to have a cigarette and let the horse have a drink.

    Dan’s buried just outside town.

    (Briefly – Of course no offence taken!)



    Dan was a Victorian.

    He enlisted at the point the Palestine thing was being planed.

    The Brits had the enlistment people here and in NZ specifically looking for people from country areas who didn’t have street addresses ie the ones who could ride a horse.

    It should have increased the odds of him surviving but unlucky, I guess.

    (Sorry for the lateness of my replies but week nights are work time for me to keep office hours in GMT)


    And a new bit:


    [In 1918 some light horse regiments were equipped with sabres]

    I didn’t know that. Beersheba was done with rifle in the scabbard and bayonet in hand.

    I guess that after the charge someone decided if the ANZAC Light Horse were going to behave like it was still 1800 they may as well have a sabre to intimidate the locals. 😀

  18. confessions

    Watched Costello b/c I was too tired to switch him off. Alberici tried hard to get him to engage on Libs’ failure to extract money from mining profits, but he just went repetitive on “Labor bad, no surplus, surplus would have given more in Future Fund but naughty Labor have already spent it all.”

    Sometime I wish that so-called retired “experts” would stop pushing politics and think about the good of the country.

  19. There is no way Crean is fond of Gillard reading this and if he took one for the team bringing on the spill, why is he still bucketing the team.

    He’s gone rogue.

    [Asked why he thought Ms Gillard was pursuing divisions, Mr Crean said she had a political “tin ear”, and that she was pursuing headlines.

    He said Mr Rudd was ”just arrogant, but she’s got a tin ear. She sits there – ‘Mmm’ – and listens but it doesn’t translate.

    “Because somewhere along the way she gets the word that here’s the angle on how you get tomorrow’s headline.”

    The Gonski reforms needed to be better defined, he said. “You can’t just say we’re committed to Gonski, because no one knows what Gonski is.”

    Read more:

  20. Love Mike Carlton on Fraudband (thanks BK!):

    [The policy is simple, quicker and, of course, very much cheaper than Labor’s dizzy extravagance. Known as Fibre to the Nerd, it will bring the 21st century to a screeching halt at the end of your street.

    From there, the terabytes will be delivered to your computer on copper wire first laid down in 1956 or – if that fails – by specially trained runners bearing messages held high in cleft sticks. Http Error 404, methinks. Please check the URL and try again.]

    And his excoriation of Thatcher’s legacy is quite simply, brilliant.

  21. BB #24 that would have been the logical and smart approach for the Coalition to take, commit to the NBN but make this subject to a proper cost/benefit analysis. They didn’t because being anti anything Labor proposes is deep in their mindsets. The Coalition is in a bit of strife over this one and only tell if this cancells out concerns people have with Labor over boats, the economy and internal wars.

    Past week was a rare very good week for Labor. Wonder if a Nielsen is due this week 😉

  22. The Woodside decision is a concern for Australia. We may get little benefit from projects completely developed and operated offshore and where most of the resource is exported.

  23. Dan

    years ago, Ms Mirabella sent me a three page letter about why going to war in Iraq was a Good Idea.

    I was curious about some of the statements she made and tried to track them back to their sources. In some cases, she used quotes which were decades old; others were clearly out of context; and some had been discredited long ago (and anyone who had done the ‘research’ she had apparently done for that letter would have known that).

    If you look at a Mirabella press release, she is very fond of quoting people without giving any references for the quote (she rarely says, for example, “in today’s Age’).

    Often I’ll put one of these quotes into google. No hits whatsoever. Of course, that doesn’t mean the person quoted didn’t say what Mirabella says they did; but there’s absolutely no way of checking.

    Then the other classic, as you’ve pointed out – telling only part of the story, or distorting it altogether.

    So, for example, she’ll often blame ‘the carbon tax’ for the closure of a company but when you go to the company’s statement to the ASX (which I understand is meant to be 100% factual) there’s no mention of it whatsoever.

    The only reason I don’t get majorly concerned about her totally blatant misleading media releases is that the media apparently knows all this, and rarely (if ever) run with them.

  24. From last thread:

    Briefly @ 1141:

    Yep, Simon’s lost it big time. My father, a rusted-on lefty from way back, and a supporter of Crean Snr, and Jr, has little respect left for Simon.

    Ironic that Simon is of the view that the PM has a “tin ear’, when both he and Kevin “climate change is greatest moral issue of our time” Rudd both totally misread their caucus mates’ views.

  25. zoomster

    I wonder if you’d mind putting that that comment on the article at The Derp. I’d like others who read the article to see that.

    BTW, I recently joined Farcebook and have sent you an “add friend” request 😉

  26. Crean and many others around him are working in the context of the careerist Short-Cons deciding to proceed with losing the election rather than cede internal power – as predicted by Latham. Why not continue with bringing the very large split to a head? Nothing matters now but party reform.

  27. BK @ 3

    The irony of a picture of desperate miners right next to an advertisement for a symbol of new-age extravagance, a 2013 model BMW.

    Kinda puts Thatcherism in true perspective.

  28. OK, Dan, have tried to post — got a strange response, so let me know whether it’s worked (or just cut and paste my comment above)

  29. j.v.

    someone with Crean’s resume is just as careerist as any Short/Con (and at least neither of those two ‘inherited’ their career).

  30. ….and I point out again, 30/70 (a) in any political party, does not represent a ‘large split’ (b) is not indicative of the numbers who would actually decamp if a breakaway was attempted.

    Really, that someone like yourself, who claims to be a progressive, aligns themselves with the likes of Carr, Ferguson, Fitzgibbon and Bowen (whom I’m sure, if I could be bothered to do the research, you’ll have bagged out as teh evil here in the past) just demonstrates that something other than ideology is driving you.

    If you were either a true progressive, or had the best interests of the party (or indeed, the country) at heart, or had any scrap of principle, there’s no way you’d feel comfortable aligning yourself with these people.

  31. CTar, thanks for that.

    You probably have read, ‘First to Damascus’, the story of the Australian Light Horse by Jill, Duchess of Hamilton whose farther was a trooper in the 10th Lighthorse. She went to London initially to work for Newscorp.

    She started the Australian War Memorial in Battersea Park, London and organised the first regular Dawn ANZAC Services ever held in Britain apparently.

    ‘First to Damascus’ covers Beersheba as well as the other ME Battles involving the Light Horse.

    The same Turkish General who blocked the ANZAC’s at Gallipoli also faced them at Damascus and it and the other ME battles against the Turk’s were regarded as a “settling of accounts” to an extent for Gallipoli – as you are no doubt aware.

  32. Morning all. Like others here I find it hard to make sense of Crean’s comments. Regardless of which side of the Gillard/Rudd fence Labor people it, it doesn’t help. I agree with his comments on the foolishness of the 457 visa strategy, but they are stillunwise now.

  33. zoomster

    No, the comment didn’t show up. Apparently a few people are having problems accessing the site at the moment. 😡

    I’m actually going to add it as an update to the post itself though with credit of course.

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