Draft federal redistribution of New South Wales

Draft boundaries for the federal redistribution of New South Wales propose the abolition of Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter.


I’ve now tightened up the estimated margins, a full accounting of which can be seen in this spreadsheet, which also features primary vote results. I now have Labor coming up quite a bit stronger in Paterson, for some reason to the extent of having a notional margin there of 1.5%.

Banks 47.4% -0.8%
Barton 57.5% +7.8%
Bennelong 42.2% +0.0%
Berowra 31.0% +0.0%
Blaxland 59.6% -1.8%
Bradfield 28.7% -0.5%
Calare 35.3% +1.3%
Chifley 61.1% +0.6%
Cook 32.8% -0.8%
Cowper 37.0% -1.2%
Cunningham 61.8% +1.9%
Dobell 50.5% +1.1%
Eden-Monaro 47.3% -2.1%
Farrer 28.5% -4.1%
Fowler 67.7% +0.9%
Gilmore 46.1% -1.3%
Grayndler 64.2% -6.1%
Greenway 52.7% -0.3%
Hughes 38.2% -1.1%
Hume 38.1% -0.4%
Hunter (Charlton) 56.1% +2.5%
Kingsford Smith 52.7% +0.0%
Lindsay 47.0% +0.0%
Lyne 35.9% +0.7%
Macarthur 46.7% +8.0%
Mackellar 31.2% +0.0%
Macquarie 45.5% +0.0%
McMahon 52.1% -3.3%
Mitchell 28.7% +0.7%
New England 29.8% +0.5%
Newcastle 59.3% +0.5%
North Sydney 34.6% +0.4%
Page 47.0% -0.5%
Parkes 30.4% +2.8%
Parramatta 52.3% +1.7%
Paterson 51.5% +11.3%
Reid 49.0% -0.1%
Richmond 51.8% -1.1%
Riverina 31.0% +2.1%
Robertson 46.8% -0.2%
Shortland 57.2% +0.0%
Sydney 63.3% -1.4%
Warringah 34.5% -0.1%
Watson 59.2% +2.4%
Wentworth 32.1% -0.2%
Werriwa 56.7% +4.5%
Whitlam (Throsby) 56.9% -0.8%

Original post

The AEC has just published long-awaited draft boundaries for the federal redistribution of New South Wales, which reduces the state’s representation from 48 seats to 47. The seat proposed for the chop is Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter – although the name will be kept alive by renaming the neighbouring seat of Charlton. Notably:

Paterson (Bob Baldwin, Liberal). The abolition of the Hunter region seat causes Paterson to be drawn into a strongly Labor area, turning a 9.8% Liberal margin into a 0.5% margin.

Barton (Nick Varvaris, Liberal). The other big Liberal loser is Nick Varvaris, who did well to win the inner southern Sydney seat of Barton in 2013. The seat stands to lose the Liberal-voting area around Sans Souci at the southern end, and be pushed into Labor-Greens voting Marrickville and its surrounds closer to the city.

Eden-Monaro (Peter Hendy, Liberal). This seat is to be very strikingly redrawn, losing territory at the northern coastal end to Gilmore and gaining areas to the west and north of the ACT.

Macarthur (Russell Matheson, Liberal). The Liberal margin in this outer south-western Sydney seat has been slashed by the exchange of semi-rural areas for outer suburban territory around Minto and Eagle Vale.

Grayndler (Anthony Albanese, Labor). Albanese’s seat has been drawn towards the inner-city, gaining the Rozelle area and losing southern Marrickville and surrounding suburbs to Barton in the south, along with Summer Hill and surrounds to Watson in the west. This cuts his margin against the Liberals by 6.2%, but the greater threat here is from the Greens, and the changes have presumably intensified it (UPDATE: Apparently not, actually – the Greens vote in Balmain especially was curiously subdued at the last election).

Parramatta (Julie Owens, Labor). The changes here are modest, but Labor’s Julie Owens will enjoy the 0.8% boost to her 0.6% margin.

Page (Kevin Hogan, Nationals). Loses Ballina to Richmond at its northern coastal end, and gains the coast north of Coffs Harbour from Cowper in the south. Kevin Hogan won this seat for the Nationals from Labor in 2013, and he’s now had a helpful boost to his margin from 2.5% to 3.8%.

McMahon (Chris Bowen, Labor). Bowen was cut a little fine in this typically safe Labor seat in western Sydney in 2013, and now he’s been damaged by the transfer of Fairfield to Fowler, taking his margin from 5.3% to 2.4%.

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.

94 comments on “Draft federal redistribution of New South Wales”

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  1. The re-naming of Divisions (apart from Whitlam) isn’t happening.

    If you mean Table G in the report, that was just summary of the different Suggestions from the submissions. Not what they are actually doing.

    “Bradman” would actually be a good name for the proposed Riverina, since it’s lost most of the traditional Riverina area.

    Some pretty strange changes they’ve made. I get that they were trying to clean up some problems (Broken Hill in Farrer, etc), but sometimes the cure is worse than the disease!

  2. William, you’ve misread the report. The Eden-Monaro to Snowy Mountains, Richmond to Bandler and Macarthur to Bradman renamings were all received as suggestions, but the committee decided against all of them. The only name change will be the loss of Charlton to Hunter and Throsby to Whitlam.

  3. On the naming, I think the changes are far from ideal not awful. It is a real pity to lose Charlton, especially since John Hunter was not an Australian while Matthew Charlton was. I still wish they’d gone with Werriwa for the Whitlam seat (the explanation for why they didn’t is ludicrous), but at least it’s Throsby and not Fowler. This committee is apparently much more attached to Federation names than the last one. (I also love Mark Mulcair’s above suggestion for Riverina to become Bradman.)

  4. William: I acknowledge that the AEC is abolishing Hunter and renaming Charlton, but when you look at the practicalities of it on the ground, they might as well simply say they are abolishing Charlton: to me, it’s a distinction without a difference.

  5. so this means that Reid, Barton and Dobell become notionally Labor whilst Hunter becomes notionally Liberal?

    And Cook becomes a more marginal seat…

  6. Reid probably wouldn’t see much change. Drummoyne is Liberal, but Reid gains the rest of Strathfield which is strongly Lib. It also loses some parts of Auburn and Lidcombe that are strong Labor.

    (Removing Drummoyne but keeping Auburn is a poor outcome, I personally will be trying to find a way to tidy that up).

    Barton, Macarthur, Paterson, and probably Parramatta will become better for Labor. Hughes, Gilmore, probably Richmond and Page will be better for the Liberals.

    One interesting one is McMahon. It loses its safest Labor territory in Fairfield, while gaining 50-50 areas in Guildford and Merrylands.

  7. Werriwa or Fowler should have become Whitlam. They could easily have kept the Werriwa name by renaming Macarthur I would have thought. Macarthur came out of Werriwa and it is at least a little closer to Lake George.

    The loss of @fitzhunter from the ALP benches will feel more like a gain.

  8. markmulcair

    i reckon removing the drummoyne peninsula would no doubt make reid notionally labor even if it absorbs strathfield.

  9. ratsak

    I highly doubt that Bob baldwin will recontest next year. Joel Fitzgibbon may want to contest Paterson instead.

  10. Balmain and Annandale have been moved out of Sydney and into Grayndler. That should make Sydney stronger and Grayndler weaker for Labor against the Greens.

  11. Obviously the maintenance of Federation names drove the decision to drop Charlton, although I expect 90% of the electors in Hunter think it is a geographical name rather than named after the Governor (btw the teaching hospital in Newcastle is also called John Hunter and this was controversial at the time).

    Personally I think extending electorate names to LOO is a step too far particularly to someone so spectacularly unsuccessful as Matty Charlton – one of only 3 never to hold any government office (his highest office was mayor of Lambton- New Lambton Municipal Council). If we keep Charlton we will eventually end up with Hewson and Mark Latham. I would make an exception for Evatt which was Labor’s proposal for Patterson when it was recreated

  12. Why the hell should an electorate be named Bradman? I am sick and tired of public stuff being named after male sports-players.

    Anyone would think they are the only ones who did anything in this damned country. It is not as if Bradman was a great person outside of hitting a ball.

  13. It is a very strange redistribution – all seems relatively normal in the northern part of the state and then all goes very strange when you get to the south.

    The new seat of Hunter, the former Charlton, in lieu of the abolished Hunter, looks from a geographic point of view very similar to the abolished seat of Hunter. Why not just say that they abolished Charlton and be done with it.

    I can see a lot of objections on community of interest grounds.

    Cook – traditionally a Shire seat now going all the way to Kogarah?

    Hume – still classified by the Commissioners as ‘rural’ coming down into the Sydney Basin? And leapfrogging the Southern Highlands towns as well which are in Throsby.

    Grayndler – Drummoyne cut off from Five Dock and attached to Balmain?

    Eden Monaro – ‘wherever possible’ not crossing the Great Divide but now including – again – Tumut and Tumbarumba – both of which have community of interest with Wagga and Albury.

    Some changes do make sense like putting Broken Hill in Parkes instead of Farrer.

    It almost seems that the commissioners ran out of time to get the job done.

  14. Caf

    Prior to the 2007 election, Tumut and Tumbarumba were transferred into E-M from Hume(??) – both showed massive swings to the ALP because all of a sudden they were worth putting resources into – from safe Nat seat to marginal seat. In 2010 they were transferred out again – massive swing away from the ALP because no resources put in. Interesting display of how resources can swing a seat.

  15. US,

    Haven’t looked at how Paterson has changed in the proposal. I would assume that it wouldn’t be easy for Fitz to win? And anyway would Labor perhaps think another candidate might have a better chance?

  16. oh scratch that, looks like most of the old Paterson is now in Lyne.

    Still will be interesting to see how much support for him to continue there will be.

  17. Something suggests that the commissioners should have bitten the bullet and abolished a seat like Banks or Blaxland and put in a new seat further west.

  18. With Hunter essentially swallowing Charlton, a real factional fight could be ahead, Fitzgibbon from the right may have favouritism due to his position in shadow cabinet although Charlton MP, Pat Conroy from the left is seen a rising star of the party, we will have to see what happens there.
    As well, I’m perplexed about the subsequent addition of Drummoyne and Rodd Point into Grayndler, also losing much of Marrickville which is Albo’s area, i cant see him going to any other seat and i can’t see labor losing it when he contests. Although it has gained some very good Liberal booths, losing some of Labor’s best booths around Marrickville and Canterbury, whilst gaining the Green heaven of Balmain and Birchgrove. In a few years time this could be a ding dong battle.

  19. Macarthur looks like something Labor should pick up. With Ingleburn, Minto and Leumeah coming in as well as a host of new subdivisions that have sprung up in the last two years but losing Camden, Narellan etc Russell will be sweating. Low interest rates will be good for the government though.

    Will be interested to see what the notional margin becomes, but with all the new developments there will be some booths that won’t look anything like their old results next election.

  20. William,

    I’m grateful you’re here to sate our impatience to know the new margins. And thank you for that.

    But could you explain how you’re arriving at different margins in seats that haven’t changed? (Bennelong, Kingsford Smith, Lindsay, Mackellar.)

  21. Looking at the change column. I see four seats where the margin has changed by more than five percentage points.

    Three of those immensely favour Labor – Barton, Macarthur and Paterson. The other one, Grayndler, reduces the ALP’s margin, but is of no great significance. (It may even help Albo having more Liberal voters in his seat.)

    So despite the amalgamation of Hunter and Charlton, this is a very good redistribution for Labor.

  22. [But could you explain how you’re arriving at different margins in seats that haven’t changed? (Bennelong, Kingsford Smith, Lindsay, Mackellar.)]

    This is because I simply got my mapping software to aggregate booth results where they were located – so for instance, all the results for the Randwick booth are counted as being in Kingsford-Smith, even though about half of it belongs in Wentworth. I’ve reverted the display to the existing margin in the seats you’ve indicated, but for the time being, there is an element of this problem in most of the Sydney seats.

  23. Hunter doesn’t look that different but it’s pretty different – it has a large part of Lake Macquarie and basically no parts of Maitland, unlike the old Hunter.

    William, do you know what the Greens primary vote looks like in Grayndler?

  24. The movement of Cowper south may have ructions for the NATs. It will now contain both Coffs Harbour (Hartsuyker’s base) and Port Macquarie (Gillespie’s). Hartsuyker seems to be arising star in the Nats (that is a statement in itself) and will surely keep the new Cowper. Gillespie’s new Lyne will be based on Taree and Foster all the way down to Karuah where he is unpopular/unknown and also eating into Baldwin’s powerbase. Indeed I would wonder if Baldwin might go for this much safer seat

    Could Gillespie be a oncer?

  25. Yeah, scratch what I said about Werriwa. I just compiled raw primary vote booth results for Grayndler, and they surprise me – Labor 45.0%, Liberal 30.7%, Greens 19.8%. So much so I’m wondering if I might have it wrong.

  26. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Greens vote was under 20% for Grayndler, they polled pretty horrendously in and around Balmain by their own standards in 2013, and then again they poll badly around Drummoyne, their vote should really be in between this years state election results and the last federal election.

  27. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Greens vote was under 20% for Grayndler, they polled pretty horrendously in and around Balmain by their own standards in 2013, and then again they poll badly around Drummoyne, their vote should really be in between this years state election results and the last federal election.

  28. After redistributions Libs and Nats are permitted to contest seats against each other and i could see them happening all over, especially in Paterson, Lyne, Farrer (Although it really should be a Nat seat in the first place), Hunter, Riverina and Richmond, although if the Libs and Nats both contested Richmond, the conservative vote would be split and the Greens would finish second.

  29. @ Liam Whelan, 37

    The last time the Libs and the Nats contested Richmond against each other (2010), the Greens came fourth, though to be fair the Greens vote has since risen.

  30. Airlines, by next election I would be expecting the Green vote in Richmond to be in the twenties, although if the Libs and Nats both ran, the Greens could finish second only to be over taken by one of those two on preferences. I’m also curious about the Green vote in Page, it wasn’t great last election although the did pick up more of Lismore and Nimbin as well as parts of Cowper where they previously polled reasonably.

  31. Having looked at this a bit more closely, I would suggest that the redistribution in the area south-west of Sydney is looking pretty crazy from a number of respects.

    1. The point made by blackburnpseph earlier: rural Hume starting to impinge on the outer western suburbs of Sydney, while Throsby – now Whitlam – takes over the more rural Southern Highlands which one would have thought made more sense going into Hume.

    2. The new seat Whitlam has not much resonance with Whitlam’s old electoral stamping grounds, which were to the north-west, more akin with the seat called Werriwa which was once his. The strange little panhandle of the electorate down to the coast doesn’t make a great deal of sense geographically.

    3. Werriwa the seat is getting ever further away from Werriwa the geological feature (aka Lake George), which is a long way away in Hume (but, if the boundaries had been drawn a bit more sensibly, might have been in the seat to be named Whitlam, which then could have been called Werriwa and vice versa).

    4. As part of the same strange rearrangement of deckchairs, the seat of Macarthur has now lost the area around Camden which once all belonged to the Macarthur family (and a bit still does) and which thereby made it worthy of the name.

    5. The distribution across Riverina, Farrer and Eden-Monaro also seems rather odd geographically. Quite a lot of what most people would consider to be part of the “Riverina” district is now in Farrer and Eden-Monaro, in exchange for areas such as Parkes and Forbes that relate more strongly to the electorate of Calare than does Wellington, which by any measure should be in Parkes.

    This all seems more drastic than is strictly necessary. I reckon quite a few PB posters could quickly come up with something that makes more sense geographically. As I see it, a lot of the problems could be solved if the AEC could either give up altogether on the idea of having an electorate named Werriwa (yes, it’s allegedly an Aboriginal name, but it has nothing to do with the part of Sydney where it is currently situated) or else be prepared to swap the name Werriwa with Throsby.

  32. The Greens had a bad election result in 2013, mainly because they had been helping the Gillard Government stay in office and thus the protest vote factor caused a net outflow of votes rather than the usual inflow.

    The Greens vote has increased since the election. The NSW Greens have also now got experience in the Greens seat targeting technique that was pioneered in Melbourne. There is also significant overlap between some of the areas the Greens gained in the state election in 2015 and Grayndler.

    For some idea of the Greens potential in Grayndler, here are 2010 results (remembering that the Greens in NSW did not do as well as the Greens in other states in that election).


  33. [It wouldn’t surprise me if the Greens vote was under 20% for Grayndler, they polled pretty horrendously in and around Balmain by their own standards in 2013 …]

    Cheers, thanks for pointing that out. My understanding of Balmain is that it’s inhabited by basket-weavers (Sydney isn’t really my strong point), so I just kind of assumed. Is there any obvious reason why they did so badly in this area, and how much would we normally expect them to poll there?

  34. ratsak – Paterson in its old form was fairly frequently a marginal seat that never quite tipped over to Labor. But now that Paterson essentially is based on Maitland, a strongly Labor city, while also including the Tomaree Peninsula parts of Port Stephens, an area which leans Liberal, I’d expect Paterson to be a Labor seat more often than not, as those Port Stephens booths do vote Labor occasionally. An interesting thing to note is that at the last NSW state election the seat of Port Stephens swung to Labor by 20.3%. In summary I would imagine that Lyne would be very tempting for Baldwin, but he’s no great talent and could well be sacrificed to preserce relations between the Libs and the Nats.

    meher baba – the reason the AEC characterises it as an abolition of Hunter and a renaming of Charlton is because Hunter would no longer contain Maitland, which was the core of that seat.

  35. South West Sydney is going to have to be re-redistributed sooner rather than later. Putting virtually all of the new South West Growth area in Hume is going to cause it to be well over quota by 2020 I’d suggest.

  36. They polled badly mostly because of Plibersek’s personal vote, it should transfer over to Albo as well, after all in 2014 both of their primary votes increased. In the recent state elections their vote has stood up mostly because NSW Labor is a rotten mess and with the absence of high profile candidates for the ALP probably increased the Greens opportunity opportunity.

  37. The last time Libs contested Lyne (’93 I think) they ended 2 (two only) votes behind the Nats on primaries. They had made a pre-election agreement not to contest the results and as a result Australia was inflicted with Mark Vaile.

  38. Others have pointed out some of the many problems with this redistribution, but in my opinion the biggest one could be that Cowper is proposed to contain both Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie. While this is a neat technical solution to the North Coast’s quota problem, it will inevitably attract community opposition and will not be sustainable beyond a few elections at most.

  39. Jimmy I think it swings backwards and forwards. Coffs and Port have been in the same electorate a few times in the past but I agree that population growth will separate them again in the next decade

  40. JD,

    Yep. Once I’d seen the actual new boundaries for Paterson it was obviously a Lib/Lab seat. I don’t see anything there for the Nats. Very unlikely to waste their time I’d have thought.

    And yeah Baldwin is a log. I would be neither surprised nor disappointed if the Libs and Labor take the opportunity to get some new talent into the house at the expense of the current reps for Hunter and Paterson.

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