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. Meanwhile Boris Johnson is intent on burning down the place. He will not last long as PM, and will be kicked to the kerb once and for all.

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

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

    After careful consideration and consultation with my colleagues I have reached the following conclusion.

    I can only imagine what Mr. Henderson had in mind and allow that my imagination stretches not to from whence his information came.

    My conclusion is based on my personal history with wimmin.
    i.e. Begging, whining, entreating etc.
    N.B. Invariably with rejection as a result.


    Also wot is Godwin ❓

  3. Birds of a feather………….never ceases to amaze me how the Tories in the UK and their LNP mates here, are alike as peas in a pod on one fundamental issue. Ever since Keir Hardy first went into parliament, the basic tenet of the above, despite all the issues that a nation faces, is to “Keep Labo(u)r Out”. When you hear Tory politicians talk about Brexit, at the back of their minds is that the worst outcome of all, like the Black Death coming, is Labour (in the UK) in office. Meanwhile, in good old Oz, the last election proved that when nothing else remains, a good old-fashioned anti-Labor message will do the same trick here. And, now weeks after the election, it is still Labor which is the focus of attention………..

  4. Removal of Newstart recommendation:

    But sources said Mr Fletcher demanded to review the recommendations before they were publicly released in April and is understood to have told the committee chair – veteran Liberal MP Russell Broadbent – that the final report could not contain the specific Newstart recommendation.

    The committee, which included Liberal MPs Kevin Andrews, Bert van Manen, Ben Morton and Rowan Ramsey, as well as Labor MPs Ged Kearney and Sharon Bird, was then hastily reconvened to change the wording of the report.

    The opposition’s policy at the time was to merely review Newstart rather than raise it.

    Following Mr Fletcher’s intervention, MPs agreed to only recommend an examination of the “adequacy of payments on young people and single parent families”.
    Ms Kearney, the deputy chair, and other MPs on the committee said they could not comment due to parliamentary protocols. But one said that “something was clearly up”.

  5. taylormade

    You must have missed the joke that everyone thought Chloe was wearing a designed gown and accused her of extravagance, when it was a cheap one, because she carried it off with such style.

  6. In America…..

    I was told to stop fighting with my conservative uncle publicly on Facebook so I started making memes for the family group chat in protest

  7. The stupidity of your comment is that because Morrison and his family are Penetcostals that his schtick would only appeal to adherents of his faith. This is not the case. Morrison’s message appealed across the full breadth of the community.

    Focussing on his personal brand of Christianity misses the point.

  8. I wonder if Gerard realises how rich Taylor is, and how many fingers in how many pies? He thinks the ‘lefties’are only attacking him over his energy policy. ROFL.

  9. And of course Trump goes on another Twitter rant as per his modus operandi. He is continuing to have a Bob each way.
    Distract and make a case that he is mentally unfit so he can be excused for his crimes.

  10. @Victoria

    and the government has three years to prepare for another disinformation campaign directed at disengaged voters.

  11. Listening to Gregory Hunt this morning grandstanding on new PBS listings made me think……
    For my ALP educate the masses campaign I’d start with an ‘Imagine Australia Without the PBS’
    Then a snappy, clear potted history..including of the course the Liberal country party opposition to it and High Court challenge……ending with Imagine Australia without the PBS?
    Then, ‘Australian Labor Party Imaging Australia’s Future.
    Or something like that.
    I’d hazard a guess that fewer than 10% of the voting public know which party created the PBS.
    Then on to the next one….
    Hit social media mostly as well as TV…..
    So instead of government advertising we get opposition advertising.
    What does Labor have to lose.

  12. This is well worth reading, if only for the food references! Contrast between Western Sydney and Rockhampton.

    I had just arrived to officially begin a new life for myself in the Sunshine State. I’d spent the previous week driving up from Western Sydney. I was born in Canterbury to Palestinian parents and for me, Queensland was a holiday destination filled with theme parks, beaches, hot weather, wildlife and fresh tropical fruits.

  13. taylormade says:

    I prefer Jenny. Nice and down to earth.Chloe would be very high maintenance.

    Too bloody right. Those Pentecostal sheilas know their place eh ? They are right into the biblical advice as to who is the boss and who is to do all the ‘submitting’ . Not like those uppity lady chaps like Chloe who reckon those biblical and Pentecostal teachings are wRONg.

  14. GG
    I am entitled to have an opinion. Nothing to do with marginalising people.
    It’s not as if my employer is going to sack me for espousing them.
    It’s all good from where I am sitting

  15. Lenore Taylor @lenoretaylor

    “There is nothing in this” good to know Gerard Hendersen’s position on accountability and scrutiny of the government. We’ll now see… #grassgate


  16. OK, try it on your non Labor fiends – if you have any – ask them, which party created the PBS – explain what that is if they’re young, or dumb- now, see the problem for Labor?

  17. poroti @ #83 Sunday, July 28th, 2019 – 10:08 am

    taylormade says:

    I prefer Jenny. Nice and down to earth.Chloe would be very high maintenance.

    Too bloody right. Those Pentecostal sheilas know their place eh ? They are right into the biblical advice as to who is the boss and who is to do all the ‘submitting’ . Not like those uppity lady chaps like Chloe who reckon those biblical and Pentecostal teachings are wRONg.

    Victoria @ #84 Sunday, July 28th, 2019 – 10:09 am

    I am entitled to have an opinion. Nothing to do with marginalising people.
    It’s not as if my employer is going to sack me for espousing them.
    It’s all good from where I am sitting

    Didn’t say you weren’t. My perspective is that repeating bigotry ad nauseum doesn’t help your cause if you really want to win.

    But, i’m sure you know better.

  18. It truly is amazing how lucky the Taylor family is. I just noticed this, a bit late to the party but FMD ! Gerard if you call “nothing to see here”

    Stuart Burge, who gave the go-ahead for Angus Taylor’s company to spray pesticides, also wrote a report now being used to head off an inquiry into the spraying

  19. GG

    It is not ‘bigotry’ to call out the bullshit that is involved with the ” prosperity happy clappers” .Bullshit no matter how deeply believed remains bullshit. Saying “it is my religion” does not give you a get out of jail free card for being an arsehole.

  20. ‘The PM has taken aim at Labor Leader Anthony Albanese for failing to support laws which would ban militant union officials who serially break the law.’

    There’s a nice line of counter attack in there somewhere for Albo in relation to Scrott and banks.
    Go Albo, fight a tory…
    I can dream.

  21. Grog writes a heartfelt column, cautioning against Medicare privatization talk…

    Whither “Mediscare”? It was “just ridiculous,” we were told. “Cynical and dishonest,” the Libs and friendly journos tub-thumped. “Labor can’t complain about scare tactics now,” they all declared during this year’s campaign.


  22. poroti @ #90 Sunday, July 28th, 2019 – 10:16 am


    It is not ‘bigotry’ to call out the bullshit that is involved with the ” prosperity happy clappers” .Bullshit no matter how deeply believed remains bullshit. Saying “it is my religion” does not give you a get out of jail free card for being an arsehole.

    That might be your opinion. But, it is clearly not one held in the broader community because despite all these alleged truths you speak, the voters don’t agree with you. Perhaps the broader community is less dogmatic and ideological as you.

    So marginalise yourself to your heart’s content. Just don’t expect to be taken seriously as a political observer.

  23. Got to agree with you on this one, GG.

    Look at the maps of the election swings. People of faith, particularly recent migrants from places where persecution is rife, are pretty attuned to negative messages about their own, and other’s, faith. Many of them have seen how bad it can get. Labor needs to respect this.

  24. The Coalition team song, (apologies to J Williamson)

    Give me a rort among the shonk….ies
    With lots of flunkies
    A rort or two, a kickback too
    A tax rort out the back
    A denial out the front
    And an old mocking stare.

  25. lizzie
    Sunday, July 28th, 2019 – 10:07 am
    Comment #82

    This is well worth reading, if only for the food references! Contrast between Western Sydney and Rockhampton.

    I had a look at that earlier this morning. Good read indeed.

    Question – do the brave lads and lasses who apparently consider themselves as “real Orstrayans” still refer to others as “wogs” ❓

  26. A friend of mine has suggested he start his own religious body with the intention of spreading the learnings and beliefs ….that there is no deity; that rationality is under threat from faith-based organs and pop-ups of all kinds; that personal freedom, rights and identity should be protected from religious doctrines; that there is no such thing as sin.

    I think he has a point.

    It’s easier to start a religious body than a political party.

  27. C@t

    I was sad (but not really surprised) to see that the supposedly bright young influencers are so readily joining the same-same-ists. Then they like to emphasise the narrative that everyone is sick of politicians.

Leave a Reply

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