Seat of the week: Dobell

The central coast New South Wales seat of Dobell has mostly been in Labor’s hands since its creation in 1984, but the travails of sitting member Craig Thomson have presumably raised the bar on their chances of retaining it again this time.

Held by troubled Labor-turned-independent MP Craig Thomson, Dobell covers the urban areas around Tuggerah Lake just beyond the northern coastal reaches of Sydney, including the coastal retirement haven of The Entrance, lower income Wyong on the interior side, the tourist area from Bateau Bay south through Wamberal to Terrigal, the demographically unremarkable northern Gosford suburbs of Lisarow and Wyoming, and state forest further inland. Terrigal and its immediate surrounds are strong for the Liberals, forming the basis of a fairly safe seat at state level, while the Gosford area and the electorate’s central and northern regions have traditionally been finely balanced.

Dobell was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1984 and held from then until 2001 by Michael Lee, who served in cabinet through the final term of the Keating government. Lee survived a 6.7% swing amid Labor’s 1996 election defeat to hold on by 117 votes, but a 1.8% redistribution shift in favour of the Liberals would prove decisive at the 2001 election, when Liberal candidate Ken Ticehurst picked up a 1.9% swing to prevail by 560 votes. Ticehurst substantially consolidated his hold with a 5.5% swing at the 2004 election, but even this proved insufficient to stave off an 8.7% swing to Labor in 2007.

The seat has since been held by Thomson, who had previously been national secretary of the Health Services Union. The first intimation of the trouble that awaited Thomson came with allegations his union credit card had been used to misappropriate around $100,000 for purposes including payment to a Sydney brothel, which he claimed had been fabricated amid a backdrop of internal warfare within the union’s Victorian branch. After surviving a preselection challenge by local union official David Mehan, Thomson became one of only four New South Wales Labor MPs to pick up a swing at the 2010 election, his margin increasing from 3.9% to 5.1%. However, his political career began to unravel the following June after he withdrew a defamation against The Age over its reporting of the credit card allegations. A lengthy Fair Work Australia investigation into the union ended with civil proceedings being launched against Thomson in October 2012, with fraud and theft charges following in early 2013.

Thomson’s membership of the ALP was suspended in April 2012, and in May he announced he had resigned from the party to stand as an independent. After delaying preselection proceedings until this time, Labor finally endorsed Trevor Drake, a former deputy mayor of Gosford who had been a Liberal Party member between 2004 and 2008. Drake emerged as the only candidate when nominations closed, with earlier named contenders having included Wyong Hospital executive Emma McBride (whose father Grant McBride is a former state member for The Entrance), former state Wyong MP David Harris, Wyong Shire councillor Lisa Matthews and the aforementioned candidate from 2010, David Mehan.

An initial Liberal Party preselection in December 2011 was won by Gary Whitaker, former Hornsby Shire councillor and managing director of a local educational services company. Whitaker prevailed over WorkCover public servant Karen McNamara, in what was reported as a defeat for the Right faction forces associated with state upper house MP David Clarke and the locally powerful member for Terrigal, Chris Hartcher. However, Whitaker soon faced trouble over allegations he had lived for several years without council permission in an “ensuite shed” on his Wyong Creek property while awaiting approval to build a house there. The following April, the party’s state executive voted to dump Whitaker as candidate and install McNamara in his place.

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.

2,142 comments on “Seat of the week: Dobell”

Comments Page 42 of 43
1 41 42 43
  1. I posted this on the Media Watch Message Board on the ABC:

    Why is there nothing on the ABC site regarding the news that Tony Abbott has been required to repay travel expenses incorrectly claimed for trips to promote his book ‘Battlelines’ in 2009. The amount involved was $9,400, about 10 times the amount that Peter Slipper was alleged to have claimed. Here is the story in the Sydney Morning Herald:

    Given all the attention that has been paid to Peter Slipper and others for alleged indiscretions, why is Tony Abbott not being held to account for this. Could it be that it was not on the front page of the News Limited tabloids, where the ABC seems to all too often find its cues?

    All messages on that board are moderated and generally don’t appear for some hours (or even days) and I don’t think many read it, but at least I have registered a complaint.

  2. Hmm, will need to see the results of other polls before I get too excited, however, I do detect a changing of the ‘vibe’.
    People are starting to listen at last.

  3. Just saw docantk @ 2050. Great news – that would be a Labor 2PP of about 51.4% (assuming 80% of Greens and 30% of ‘Other’ to the ALP). It would seem to indicate that the resurrection of the Pink Batts issue has not had much effect.

    Still, it’s early days and a lot can happen in the remaining weeks. Assuming the sample size is about 2,000, there’s also the margin of error of 2%.

  4. What the…!!

    Where are THEY? What’s happened?

    Have Libs/ MotherTruckers/ sundry TeaParty wannabes called their little workers back under the bridge?

    Have they all fainted at the Morgan result?

  5. Note the Morgan is “only” 52.5-47.5 by last-election preferences.

    So today we have Essential 48-52 and MMM 52.5-47.5. Sigh. Don’t know if there will be anything else this week.



    Points raised by Chief Economist Bill Evans:

    * The two key factors which supported Australia’s growth in the years after the GFC – 1. The mining boom and 2. A strong boost to government spending.

    * Average mortgage rates are at near record lows.

    * Low interest rates will boost interest rate sensitive parts of the economy.

    * Australian companies are generally in good shape.

    * We are optimistic that markets should continue to do well.

    There you go – who was the Bludger predicting a recession for the Australian economy?

    Nothing in the above to make the Greens happy 🙂

  7. Regarding Murdoch —I noted the local Murdoch rag – Sunday Times in Perth – was almost affable to Labor yesteday.

    Maybe just a fluke or has the boss had second thoughts and his editors are awaiting his command?

  8. Gawd. Mad Morrison is at it AGAIN! Though Abbott seems to be weaving and ducking around the issue.

    Morrison: send navy into international waters if asylum seekers threaten crews

    [Morrison said the Rudd government should have refused the Sichem Hawk permission to divert to Christmas Island.

    “People who are going to try this on, they should be stopped … what the Australian government should be doing is letting merchant vessels know if they are in that situation, that an Australian naval or customs vessel would come to their aid and support them,” he said, invoking the controversial stand-off between the Howard government and the Norwegian vessel the MV Tampa in 2001, in which the Tampa was eventually boarded by Australian special services troops in Australian territorial waters.

    Asked about the case, the Coalition leader, Tony Abbott, refused to comment on “operational matters” but said “we will ensure we will not be played for mugs … by people smugglers and their customers”.

    “The Australian government should not be expected to take responsibility for the foolish actions by non-citizens … the Australian government should not be blackmailed,” Abbott said.]

  9. And to think we could have had these poll results for three years if our termite hadn’t been such a busy little insect.

  10. Matt31 @ 1992

    I do not need to rewrite history.

    Christine Milne christened carbon pricing as the carbon tax.

    She did that immediately after Labor held their press conference to introduce carbon pricing.

    Again, Christine Milne was the very first to name carbon pricing as the “carbon tax”.

    How many times will the Green supporters deny this and look very foolish in addition to their lunacy?

    PM Gillard was placed in an extremely awkward situation by the media of whether it was indeed a tax courtesy of Christine Milne and the Greens 😯

  11. Great day for Labor today.

    Good Morgan Poll. Good for short term politics.

    This change of leadership voting is great for Labor long term as it makes Labor more attractive to the voters who now know whom they are going to get.

    Of course the Liberals will try to talk it down.

  12. Smart move by Rudd to set up a group to tackle business regulation. Now if only he has the ability to tackle FWA regulation. I don’t believe Abbott will come back from here and expect polls to continue to move Labor’s direction. The opposition has been too slow to react and seem somewhat lost at present. Having a sloppy policy agenda was always going to be a problem if Labor got that big something to shake things up.

  13. I can find no hits on a search for ‘Battlelines’ on the Daily Telecrap website relating to Tony Abbotts inappropriate travel claims. Funny about that.

  14. My long term prediction for a double leadership change will now engender a lot less derision, I wager.

  15. “@PaulBongiorno: The Morgan Poll has Labor in a landslide and Kevin begins his reform to make the party genuinely democratic. Talk about circuit breaker!”

  16. Now this is remarkable if Rudd said this. Talk about immediate action.

    “Oli Young
    Oh the irony … RT @latikambourke: Rudd says reason for ensuring a leader has a …term is to prevent political timidity in the face of polls “

  17. I will add a little note of caution re Morgan. Their Multi-Mode is all rather vague – they don’t say what proportion they poll by different methods in, they don’t say whether that proportion changes, they don’t say what the measured differences over time (if any) between the methods they use are. That makes me a bit cautious about its results, especially if they are not (at the time) repeated by other pollsters. Even though MMM displayed no house effect while Gillard was PM and looked like a valid (if bouncy for the sample size) poll at that time, it’s a new polling method and we don’t know yet whether its behaviour in new circumstances will be typical. If there is nothing else this week then next week when Nielsen is expected (not sure what Newspoll will do) will be useful.

    I’d like to see two pollsters showing a Labor lead before getting excited about it.

  18. j.v. most double leadership change scenarios involved a change in LOTO even before the imagined polls flipped in Labor’s favour.

  19. Sean Tisme

    I tend to agree that Morgan’s a rogue, but Abbott is still doomed. DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED.

  20. Puff

    Why don’t you take a look at the essential personal character assessments. They tell the real tale.

    IT IS NOT ABOUT sexism, or termites or leaks or even factions.

    It is simple

    The public like Rudd. The public did not like Gillard. Rudd wins in every attribute, except bizarrely hard work.

    It has bugger all to do with sexism – other than in Qld the public loved Anna Bligh.(as they should)

    Gillard just did not cut the mustard.

  21. [Labor 54.5 / Libs 45.5 in latest Morgan. No wonder Tony going on 7.30 – nothing to lose now.]

    Especially when Toolman is the interviewer.

  22. guytaur

    Yes, the hope of change to the structure of the party was my reason for the change – not boring ‘dear leader’ personality politics, but genuine party reform. And scattering the hollow wing to the 4 winds. This is a nice, more than symbolic, start.

  23. Now while I am very happy about it -Yes Morgan is too good to be true.

    Hey where is Meguire Bob. He may almost be right now

  24. Kevin I agree on Morgan however the rhetoric and focus has shifted to policy since the leadership change and this has always been the Coalition weakness. It will be hard for the Coalition to get the momentum back without something big happening their way.

    Basically Abbott can’t play he small target anymore and he does the big target thing badly.

Comments Page 42 of 43
1 41 42 43

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *