Call of the board: regional New South Wales

The second in a series that leaves few stones unturned in its exploration of the May 18 election result.

The metropolitan episodes of this series will feature maps and analysis guided by a demographic model to predict seats’ two-party results, so that areas of over- or under-performance might be noted. However, results maps only really work for areas of concentrated population, and it turns out the model works a lot less well when you move away from the cities. In particular, it records historic Labor strongholds in the Hunter and Illawarra as marginal Liberal seats, which I’m guessing results their lack of ethnic diversity, which the model strongly associates with conservatism. This suggests the model needs to be refined with interaction variables to measure the difference in effects between cities and regions, which I’ll hopefully get around to at some point.

Now for the Call of the Board in non-metropolitan New South Wales, broken into four easy pieces.

Hunter region

Newcastle (Labor 13.8%; 0.0% swing to Liberal): The pattern of the capital cities was reflected in Newcastle, the urban core of which swung to Labor while the low density surrounds went the other way. The Newcastle electorate contained exactly as much of each as to cancel each other out, with both major parties down slightly on the primary vote to make way for United Australia and a lift for the Greens.

Shortland (Labor 4.4%; 5.5% swing to Liberal): In neighbouring Shortland, however, Labor emerged with its narrowest margin since the seat’s creation in 1949. There were traces of the inner urban effect at the northern end of the electorate, but the swings elsewhere were severe enough to take 10.0% out of Pat Conroy’s primary vote. Most of that was harvested by new minor party entrants, but the Liberals gained swings of 2.2% on the primary and 5.5% on two-party preferred.

Paterson (Labor 5.0%; 5.7% swing to Liberal): It was a similar story just north of Newcastle in Paterson, where Meryl Swanson, who should have been enjoying at least half a sophomore effect, copped a two-party swing of 5.7%. The primary vote swing of 5.0% was less severe than Shortland because the minor party market was more crowded here in 2016. In particular, this was one of two seats in New South Wales where One Nation ran in 2016, and the only one where they repeated the performance in 2019. Their vote was up from 13.0% to 14.2%, the second strongest of the six New South Wales seats they contested after Hunter.

Hunter (Labor 3.0%; 9.5% swing to Nationals): Labor’s single worst result of the election was Joel Fitzgibbon’s 14.2% primary vote and 9.5% two-party slump in Hunter, reducing his previously formidable margin to 3.0%. The last time Labor was run this close in a seat bearing the name of Hunter was in 1984, and the time before that was 1906. The coal industry effect was unmistakeable: the Newcastle end of the electorate swung about as heavily as the Shortland booths on the other side of Lake Macquarie, whereas the full force landed at Cessnock. The remarkable 21.6% primary vote for One Nation, more than in any seat in Queensland, was fairly uniformly spread geographically. This left them only slightly shy of the 23.5% vote for the Nationals (who, a little oddly in my view, have the right to contest the seat under the coalition agreement), but the gap failed to close on preferences. How close they would have come of overtaking Fitzgibbon at the final count had it been otherwise is a matter for conjecture.

Northern coast

Lyne (Nationals 15.2%; 3.2% swing to Nationals): David Gillespie held almost steady on the primary vote while Labor fell 2.5% and the Greens fell 2.9%, reducing the flow of preferences to Labor. Fact I hadn’t noticed before: the Liberal Democrats can score pretty well in Nationals seats with no Liberal running, in this case 5.8%.

Cowper (Nationals 11.9%; 0.7% swing to Labor): After all the hype about Rob Oakeshott’s prospects, the result was remarkably similar to his failed bid in 2016. Pat Conaghan, who replaces Luke Hartsuyker as the Nationals member, added 1.1% to the party’s vote, scoring 47.1%, while Oakeshott was down 1.8% to 24.5%. That still left him well clear of Labor, up 0.2% to 13.8%, and he landed 6.8% short after preferences, which was 2.2% more than in 2016. The Coalition-versus-Labor two-party count produced a 0.7% swing to Labor, perhaps reflecting Hartsuyker’s retirement.

Page (Nationals 9.4%; 7.1% swing to Nationals): Kevin Hogan, a Nationals member who vaguely kept his distance from the Coalition after the putsch against Turnbull, achieved the biggest margin ever recorded in a seat that has been an arm wrestle since its creation in 1984, the margin never previously exceeding 5%. Hogan was up 5.3% on the primary vote and 7.1% on two-party preferred, the latter being the biggest swing against Labor in New South Wales after Hunter. There were two areas where Labor held its ground: just outside Coffs Harbour at the electorate’s southern extremity, and behind the hemp curtain at Nimbin in the north.

Richmond (Labor 4.1%; 0.1% swing to Labor): As just noted, the area around Nimbin bucked the trend of a heavy swing against Labor in Page. This regional effect was even more pronounced at the Byron Bay end of Richmond, where a number of booths recorded double-digit swings to Labor. Many of these booths are in fact won by the Greens, who only succeeded in treading water overall in the face of competition from Sustainable Australia and Involuntary Medication Objectors (though the latter, critics of this region take note, only polled 1.2%). The Tweed Heads end of the electorate was and is a different kettle of fish, recording low support for the Greens and a two-party swing to the Nationals. With the two ends pulling in different directions, the distinctiveness of the Byron Bay region is further enhanced, as illustrated by the image below (which would naturally tell a similar story for the Greens primary vote).


Cunningham (Labor 13.4%; 0.1% swing to Labor): The size of the two-party swing typified a dull result, in which Labor fell slightly on the primary vote, the Liberals were up slightly and the Greens vote hardly changed. The primary vote difference presumably failed to translate into a Liberal two-party swing because the Christian Democrats vacated the field after recording 4.1% in 2016.

Whitlam (Labor 10.9%; 2.8% swing to Nationals): The Liberals made life hell for some of us by declining to field a candidate here and leaving the seat to the Nationals, so that a two-party swing could only be calculated by comparing Labor-Liberal to Labor-Nationals. This the AEC, for one, declined to do. By that measure, Labor’s Stephen Jones suffered a swing of 2.8%. In the Liberals’ absence, the combined Coalition primary vote was down from 32.7% to 25.5% as Liberals unwilling to plump for the Nationals opted for the United Australia Party, whose 8.8% was their second best result in the country after Riverina.

Hume (Liberal 13.0%; 2.8% swing to Liberal): Labor dropped 5.3% on the primary vote here, though it went to independent Huw Kingston and the United Australia Party rather than Liberal member Angus Taylor, who was down slightly.

Gilmore (LABOR GAIN 2.6%; 3.3% swing to Labor): One of the few seats that went to Labor’s this was Labor’s eighteenth biggest swing nationally, and the fifth biggest in a seat that can’t be described as inner urban. The primary vote for Labor’s Fiona Phillips was actually down 3.0%, as seven candidates took the field compared with four in 2016 – among whom was spurned Liberal independent Grant Schultz, who came in fifth with 7.0%. Katrina Hodgkinson failed to light up the scoreboard as Nationals candidate, scoring 12.5%. The drop in the Liberal vote exceeded this, so that the combined Coalition primary vote was down 3.6%, similar to Labor. That Labor nonetheless enjoyed a solid and decisive two-party swing suggests a reasonable share of Nationals votes leaked to them as preferences.

Eden-Monaro (Labor 0.8%; 2.1% swing to Liberal): Eden-Monaro’s fame as the bellwether seat was further buried as Mike Kelly held off a swing of 2.1% to hold on by 0.8%. The Nationals might have done better to have stayed out, polling only 7.0% and contributing to a 4.3% drop in the Liberal primary vote. Labor was down 2.7%, the Greens up 1.2%. There was maybe a slight tendency for Labor to hold up better in urbanised areas, but no clear geographic pattern overall.


New England (Nationals 17.6%; 1.2% swing to Nationals): Barnaby Joyce’s remarkably strong result at the November 2017 by-election was proved to be no fluke, as he gained in 2.5% on the primary and 1.2% on Coalition-versus-Labor two-party in the face of even greater adversity this time. The former accomplishment was no doubt assisted by the absence of Tony Windsor, who polled 29.2% in 2016, although another independent, Adam Blakester, polled 14.2% this time to take second place over Labor, landing 14.4% short after preferences.

Calare (Nationals 13.3%; 1.5% swing to Nationals): The only seat Shooters Fishers and Farmers contested in New South Wales after their state election triumph in March, they managed third place with 17.4% of the primary vote. Nationals member Andrew Gee, a sophomore, was down 2.9% to 44.7%, and Labor was down 4.9% to 22.1%.

Riverina (Nationals 19.5%; 3.0% swing to Nationals): The only seat in the country where the United Australia Party broke double figures, to which it owes a small field of four candidates that didn’t include a Liberal, leaving Palmer’s outfit as the only non-left alternative to the Nationals. Nationals leader Michael McCormack gained 2.7% on the primary and 3.0% on two-party.

Farrer (Liberal 10.9% versus Independent): Kevin Mack was one of a number of highly regarded independents who struck out on the night, managing 20.5% of the primary vote – not nearly enough to disturb Liberal incumbent Sussan Ley, who despite shedding 7.2% on the primary vote still ended up with a straight majority of 50.7%. Ley won by 10.9% after preferences, and suffered a 0.7% two-party swing against Labor.

Parkes (Nationals 16.9%; 1.8% swing to Nationals): Both major parties were well down on the primary vote, incumbent Mark Coulton shedding 7.9%, in the face of solid performances by the Liberal Democrats (8.1%, another example of the no-Liberal-candidate effect), independent Will Landers (7.2%) and the United Australia Party (an above-average 6.3%).

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.

343 comments on “Call of the board: regional New South Wales”

  1. Troglodytes, looking for a cave, voting to exclude Labor, the exception, those areas feeling financially secure and able to afford a small degree of protest against against the LNP.
    I’m none the wiser after the election and rather concerned as to where this lurch to this LNP/conservative/divisive government will eventually settle with so much leg room for untethered legislation. No longer a progressive outlook.

  2. Trump smears lawmaker Elijah Cummings and his district in ugly Twitter rant accusing him of corruption

    President Donald Trump launched an ugly attack on Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) Saturday morning, calling his district “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” and accusing him of corruption.

    Trump pounded for unleashing ‘language used in Nazi Germany’ in his racist attack on Elijah Cummings

    former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance sharply condemned his remarks.

    Trump, Vance pointed out, is using the same language the Nazis used to dehumanize their victims in the Third Reich:

    Joyce Alene @JoyceWhiteVance

    People would do well to note that Trump is adopting the vermin & infestation language used in Nazi Germany about Jews, Romas & others. Trump will ultimately come for everyone who won’t kowtow to him & acede to his plans.

  3. You know whose mouth is filthy and who is King Rat!?!

    “Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States,” Trump continued in another tweet. “No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!”

    The attack on Cummings underscores Trump’s penchant for undermining any attempts by other Republicans to steer clear of overtly racial attacks.

    As condemnations have poured in over the past two weeks accusing Trump of bigotry — including a bipartisan House resolution decrying his “go back” tweets as racist — Trump’s campaign has mounted an all-out effort to defend the president and turn his offensive comments into a political advantage with his base.

    Republican officials say Trump is harnessing the anger of those who continue to feel left behind despite the strong economy, and steering their fury toward members of Congress he has accused of bad-mouthing the country and embracing socialist policies.

  4. Trump’s turn towards overt racism is driving away a big part of his base that helped him win in 2016: report

    In a column for the Daily Beast, Molly Jong-Fast is reporting that Donald Trump’s ramping up of racist rhetoric — particularly against four female Democratic lawmakers of color — is hurting him with a key demographic that helped propel him into the White House in 2016.

    Jong-Fast begins by noting that white working women who supported Trump in 2016 seem to have found Trump’s growing reliance on racism as a focus of his campaign unpalatable and are turning on him.

    “The president of the United States has a well-deserved problem with women voters but it may not be for the reasons you’d suspect,” she wrote. “It turns out the racism may actually be more distasteful to working class white women than the numerous sexual assault allegations.”

  5. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. A rather sparse selection today I’m afraid.

    Shane Wright explains how the RBA has been cautioned on continuing low wage growth is hurting an increasing number of workers and could ultimately drive major wedges through Australian society.
    Andrew Taylor tells us that, according to two of the city’s leading architects, suburbs across Sydney are scarred with “big, fat, dumb” apartment buildings that provide poor living spaces for residents.
    Anna Patty wonders if customers need to start picking up the tab for the cost of proper wages.
    In a strong editorial the SMH says that reform of abortion law in NSW is long overdue.
    Peter FitzSimons recons the UK is buggered.
    A good essay from Tony Wright lamenting the rise of Trumpism being enabled by loss of memory of history’s lessons.
    The Guardian digs deeper into the Angus Taylor issue and identifies a player with two apparently conflicting roles.
    Affordability for first-time buyers has improved during the downturn, but their opportunities will be squeezed once again writes Matt Wade.
    What will it take to get on top of the egregious behaviour of Facebook and the like?
    Professor Colleen Lewis examines the motives of politicians with respect to their inaction on several ethical fronts.
    A call has been made to scrap Medicare while the LNP wants to usher in the age of nuclear energy, writes John Wren in his weekly political wrap.,12941
    Joanne McCarthy writes about the rise of entitlement in the wealthy, particularly looking at our politicians.
    A fifth person arrested over an alleged $100 million money laundering syndicate allegedly delivered regular cash deposits from organised crime groups to different banks across Sydney, on one occasion making up to nine different deposits totalling almost half a million dollars in one day.
    Boris Johnson has set the UK on an apparent course towards a no-deal Brexit by playing down the likelihood of any talks with the EU unless Brussels agrees to scrap the existing withdrawal agreement and Irish backstop, both of which it has ruled out.
    As hard Brexiteer Boris Johnson takes over, the UK Labour party is finally coming down on the side of Remain, writes John Feffer.,12942
    It seems her team mates have nominated Australian swimmer Shayna Jack for “Arsehole of the Week”.

    Cartoon Corner

    Matt Goldind and a good cycling metaphor.

    Also from Golding.

    Peter Broelman wishes Howard a happy 80th.

    Zanetti and the ACCC’s investigation into the big techs.

    Jon Kudelka and climate change in Tassie,

    Alan Moir and Albo’s Setka problem.

    From the US

  6. Don’t be subdued about a less than epic selection of stories on a Sunday, BK. We don’t want to read War and Peace every day! 🙂

  7. “The president of the United States has a well-deserved problem with women voters but it may not be for the reasons you’d suspect,” she wrote. “It turns out the racism may actually be more distasteful to working class white women than the numerous sexual assault allegations.”

    You know why? Because they work with the Hispanic and African Americans (aka ‘Women and Men of Colour’) and they know that they are really nice, hard-working people, just like them. Not the unchained, rabid animals Trump is making them out to be.

  8. Morning all and thanks BK.

    Meanwhile in the US Democrats need to make the election a referendum on Trump.

    Any president running for reelection with an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, sustained economic growth and a record-breaking stock market would be a strong favorite to win a second term. President Trump is the exception.

    Trump may yet win a second term, but his prospects continue to be dragged down by, well, the president himself. Is there any other way to explain the mismatch between the current economic conditions and the current mood of a divided electorate?

  9. Will we see this make its way here?

    But legislators said they wanted to make it more clear; they wanted to “reaffirm” it. So this fall, when students return to school, a new and compulsory message will greet them: “In God We Trust.” It’ll be the first new academic year since South Dakota’s GOP leadership passed a law requiring every public school to display the American maxim “in a prominent location” and in a font no smaller than 12 by 12 inches.

    South Dakota joins a growing list of states that force their schools to display the motto. At least half a dozen passed “In God We Trust” bills last year, and 10 more have introduced or passed the legislation so far in 2019. Similar signage is going up in Kentucky schools this summer, and Missouri could be next.

  10. Will we see this make its way here?

    I don’t think so. Our Constitution specifically codified the Separation between Church and State. So Private Schools can do it but I doubt Public Schools can be forced to.

  11. Those ‘where your taxes go’ sheets the ATO includes in your tax statement letter always seem to be missing a few lines:

    – franking credit refunds
    – negative gearing deductions
    – trust distribution concessions
    – pork barrel expense to National seats
    – sundry rorts to Liberal voters

  12. A rant against “Bothism” by Trish Corry.

    Another area fairly hyped up on Twitter, and aided by apparent “left friendly newspapers” such as the Guardian who proudly publish their inside jokes in their articles such as calling Labor’s decision making in opposition to a Government with right wing power in both houses as, “bitch and fold” is Labor’s decision making around various bills. In addition, this isn’t helped by the ongoing and tiresome campaign from the Greens deceitfully depicting Labor as voting against something, when that something is a stunt and they know 100% Labor will not break Senate procedure.

    The problem is there are many on the left of politics who believe the Bothism agenda is a positive thing to ‘strengthen the left’ by holding the major left party to account. When in fact, it is a right wing agenda to split the left and it is working out quite fine for the conservatives who hate us.

    Ask yourself why it is also the preferred approach of Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer, if it ‘strengthens the left.’

    Therefore, there are major players on “the left” of politics who have have embraced the Bothism agenda. In the space of social media….really, who can blame some people? On Twitter and Blogs, it is a very easy way to gather thousands of followers and gain prominence in the #Auspol space.

    In the anti-Liberal sections of Facebook groups and pages, the Bothism agenda attacking Labor has become so entrenched, particularly by Greens, non-party aligned Socialists, Climate Change activists, Sustainability activists and various Welfare and general Left Politics groups, that many Labor people are retreating away from these groups and forming closed Labor groups.

    There are prominent Twitter accounts who “Support Labor winning” but day in day out they promote Labor is no different to the Liberals. Ideologically and a study of our history, shows this view is ingrained in ignorance. It is an ignorance that has infected the collective trust in politics. Which once again, only helps the paternalistic Liberals.

    Then we have Jan Fran, First Dog and Juice Media who enable this ignorance, particularly with new and young voters. Their formula to spread their Bothism message is always, “Liberals are shit but hey gotta say Labor is pretty shit too.” Well Bothism is also pretty shit. A Morrison Government is even more shit. How is the Morrison Government turning out for you so far?

  13. When I read revelations like this, I am reminded of the BoJo cheerleader Bucepahalus the other day praising the ascension of the great man, and how all Tories would fold before him.

    “The former Tory chancellor Philip Hammond held private talks with Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer shortly before Boris Johnson entered Downing Street last Wednesday, to plot cross-party moves aimed at preventing the new prime minister agreeing to a no-deal Brexit.
    Opponents of no deal ‘have just weeks’ to plot blocking strategy

    The meeting in the House of Commons – which took place shortly after Hammond had resigned from the government – is evidence of the fierce backlash Johnson faces from MPs of all parties if he tries to defy parliament and take the UK out of the EU without an agreement on 31 October.”

  14. Think I’ll give it a miss.

    Insiders ABCVerified account@InsidersABC
    2h2 hours ago
    Coming up on #Insiders at 9am, @annabelcrabb interviews @PaulFletcherMP + @mpbowers talks pictures with @danilic, on the couch are @SatPaper’s @KarenMMiddleton @GuardianAus’s David Marr and @australian’s Gerard Henderson. Join us! #auspol

  15. Confessions @ #18 Sunday, July 28th, 2019 – 8:25 am

    Think I’ll give it a miss.

    Insiders ABCVerified account@InsidersABC
    2h2 hours ago
    Coming up on #Insiders at 9am, @annabelcrabb interviews @PaulFletcherMP + @mpbowers talks pictures with @danilic, on the couch are @SatPaper’s @KarenMMiddleton @GuardianAus’s David Marr and @australian’s Gerard Henderson. Join us! #auspol


  16. …this isn’t helped by the ongoing and tiresome campaign from the Greens deceitfully depicting Labor as voting against something, when that something is a stunt and they know 100% Labor will not break Senate procedure.


  17. spocket_
    I have read that Jeremy Bernard Corbyn has been told he is not going to get his glorious socialist paradise and the Labour party is to support a second referendum.

  18. I am prepared to suffer Henderson in order to hear Marr and Middleton. During the interview with the recalcitrant Fletcher I shall be concentrating on brewing coffee. 🙂

  19. Drew Pavlou @DrewPavlou
    Please RT for solitarity. I was just sent a message by a Hong Kong student that will remain nameless: they have validated information that the Brisbane Chinese Consulate is bringing facial recognition cameras to the July 31st UQ Protest. This is life or death for AU democracy

    Several responses from journos overseas asking for more info. Plus:


    This is a disrespect towards Australian and UQ, please step up and protect our students. FYI, “facial recognition cameras” is everywhere in China (invading #HongKong as well), it’s used by the govt. to control the public and track down everyone easily

  20. “The Board … has now become aware that, following the hottest summer ever recorded, some of the key species for which the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area was listed are at imminent risk of extinction,” it warned.

    “Professor Williams’ recent monitoring has identified that the declines in possum and bird species … are now reaching alarming levels. If the trends continue, populations at sites that previously had the highest density of lemuroid ringtail possums could become locally extinct as early as 2022.”

    Williams says both the reef and the rainforest are being heavily impacted by climate change, but “my problem is that we don’t have such obvious signs that the rainforest is in trouble – we don’t have ‘canopy bleaching’.”

  21. Rex Patrick @Senator_Patrick
    I spent much of yesterday looking at #grassgate reporting and the Federal and NSW Government FOIs. I am now prepared to support an inquiry #auspol

  22. Interest on Gov debt costs more than is spent on housing.

    The federal government should be investing heavily in public housing; this is a desperately under-resourced good in Australia.

    The so-called government debt is not a debt in the ordinary meaning of the term. When a Treasury bond matures the Reserve Bank keystrokes a number into an Exchange Settlement Account – each bank and a few other financial institutions has one of these accounts at the Reserve Bank.

  23. Fwiw, there’s not much of anything in South Dakota, other than My Rushmore. So I wouldn’t worry about what they do.

    Also, US Federalism is different to Aus Federalism.

  24. Denise Shrivell @deniseshrivell
    Of course #newstart is gaining momentum with the Nats – because they want to put it through their aligned private company – Indue. It’s possibly money laundering! #auspol #insiders Why is it so hard for media to make this connection?? It’s in plain sight!

  25. lizzie @ #35 Sunday, July 28th, 2019 – 9:14 am

    Gerard says that research shows that Morrison (and Jenny) appealed to women.

    I reckon Gerard might be right.

    It seems the family values schtick of Morrison and the Libs resonated amongst the politically disengaged.

    But, the permanently outraged left will be outraged.

    Ho hum.

  26. The Nats are working both sides here.
    They are supporting the gross exploitation of foreign workers in rural and regional economies.
    We are talking about hundreds of thousands of workers.
    Wage theft, Super theft, conditions theft are common.
    This leaves Australia rural and regional workers unable to compete – leaving very unemployment levels.
    It is in the interests of rural and regional economies for Newstart funding to go up.
    Plus, icing on the cake, Indue.

  27. Marr, Middleton and Crabbe on Insiders….

    Why didn’t the Labor members on the committee kick up a fuss about the recommendation re Newstart being removed from its report?

    Because there was bipartisan agreement to not have Newstart as an issue before the election.

  28. taylormade

    You really do say some stupid stuff.

    Anyone involved in Hillsong is far from down to frickin earth. More like la la land

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