Call of the board: southern and central New South Wales

The latest in a series examining seat results from the 2022 election cleans up the leftovers from New South Wales: marginal Gilmore and Eden-Monaro, safe Labor seats in the Illawarra, and safe Coalition seats in the interior.

So far the Call of the Board series has applied the microscope to seat results in northern New South Wales, outer Sydney, inner Sydney and the Northern Territory. This week’s instalment deals with the unfinished business in New South Wales, namely the coastal seats south of Sydney and the conservative strongholds in the state’s interior.

The maps below represent two-party preferred vote shares and swings at booth level, which you can click on to get larger images. The scale is such is that all the two-party preferred map really demonstrates is that the Coalition dominates the interior and Labor does better in the south-east (these things are a more instructive in city areas, where the population is fairly evenly spread), while the swing map points to strong Coalition performances in Calare and Parkes and a mixed picture elsewhere. For this reason there’s another map further along than offers a closer look at the two most interesting seats under consideration, namely Gilmore and Eden-Monaro.

As was done last week, I’ll break this into two parts, starting with the southern coastal seats, which include the more competitive ones, before moving on to the interior.

Cunningham (Labor 14.7%; 1.3% swing to Labor): Never a seat to attract much attention on election night, the Illawarra seat of Cunningham recorded an interesting surge in support for the Greens, who were up from 15.1% to 21.6% — not far short of the 23.0% that won the seat for Michael Organ at a by-election in 2002. This may have had something to do with the retirement of Sharon Bird, who had held the seat since recovering it from Organ in 2004. Labor debutante Alison Byrne was down 6.5%, which did her little harm on two-party preferred. The entry of One Nation, who polled 5.1%, presumably contributed to a 6.0% drop in the Liberal vote. The swing appeared to be greatest at the Port Kembla end of his electorate, which runs northwards from there through Wollongong to the remainder of the northern end of the Illawarra region.

Eden-Monaro (Labor 8.2%; 7.4% swing to Labor): After scraping home at the July 2020 by-election that followed Mike Kelly’s retirement, Labor member Kirsty McBain scored the biggest winning margin in the once-bellwether electorate since 1961. The Nationals were absent from the field this time after polling 6.4% in 2019, helping to explain a 7.4% two-party swing compared with relatively modest primary vote shifts of 3.4% in Labor’s favour and 4.0% against the Liberals. A small part was also played by preference flows, with the already strong 87.0% flow of Greens preferences to Labor increasing to fully 92.2%.

Gilmore (Labor 0.2%; 2.4% swing to Liberal): It was close but no cigar for former state member Andrew Constance in his bid to have Gilmore go against the tide for a second election in a row, Fiona Phillips having gained it for Labor on the retirement of Liberal member Ann Sudmalis in 2019. Where the conservative vote in 2019 was split between Liberal candidate Warren Mundine, Nationals candidate Katrina Hodgkinson (another former state MP) and failed Liberal preselection aspirant Grant Schultz, this time Constance had a clear field (notwithstanding the entry of One Nation, who polled 4.0%, and the Liberal Democrats, who ran a distant last out of a field of seven). He scored 42.0% of the primary vote, compared with 29.2% for Mundine in 2019, but with both Labor and the Greens little changed on the primary vote, he was only able to grind a 2.6% margin down to 373 votes, failing also in his subsequent request for a recount.

Whitlam (Labor 10.1%; 0.8% swing to Liberal): Labor’s Stephen Jones had a slight swing against him in a seat where the issue was complicated by the fact that he faced a Nationals candidate last time and a Liberal candidate this time, which perhaps explains an improvement for Labor on preferences that mostly erased a 3.8% drop in the Labor primary vote, while the Liberals scored 2.7% higher on the primary vote than the Nationals did in 2019. Where 72.2% of United Australia Party preferences went to the Nationals in 2019, only 57.3% did so in 2022; Jones scored an above par 43.8% of preferences from One Nation, who entered the field and scored 6.9%; and his share of Greens preferences improved from 76.8% to 81.6%.

This map shows the colour-coded two-party preferred (left) and swing (right) results for Gilmore and neighbouring Eden-Monaro:

Moving inland:

Calare (Nationals 9.7% versus Independent): Together with Cowper, Calare was one of two regional seats where a teal independent made the final count, the candidate in this case being Kate Hook, who outpolled Labor by 20.4% to 15.1%. This did little to trouble Nationals member Andrew Gee, who was up from 44.7% to 47.7% on the primary vote and gained a 2.2% swing in Nationals-versus-Labor terms on two-party preferred.

Farrer (Liberal 16.4%; 3.5% swing to Labor): After facing an anti-climactic independent challenge from local mayor Kevin Mack in 2019, Liberal member Sussan Ley went unbothered on this occasion. With Mack’s 20.5% from 2019 up for grabs, she slightly improved on her majority share of the primary vote from last time, with Labor and the Greens both up by around 4.5% and One Nation and Shooters Fishers and Farmers entering the field to take 6.3% and 5.3% respectively. An instructive comparison can be made between the Liberal Democrats’ 1.6% share of the vote here and their performance against the Nationals in other regional seats.

Hume (Liberal 7.7%; 5.3% swing to Labor): Angus Taylor faced opposition from a teal-ish independent in Penny Ackery, who polled 15.3% and came close to edging out Labor to reach the final count, reaching 24.9% at the point of her exclusion compared with 25.8% for Labor and 49.3% for Taylor. Taylor would obviously have received enough leakage with the distribution of Labor preferences to have made it over the line if it had been otherwise, but the margin would assuredly have been tighter than what transpired. Taylor was down 10.2% on the primary vote, much of it no doubt landing with One Nation, who entered the field and scored a solid 7.3%.

New England (Nationals 16.4%; 1.2% swing to Labor): Barnaby Joyce faced a clear if unbalanced two-party contest on this occasion, with neither of the two independents scoring heavily. Aside from the 2017 by-election that arose from Joyce’s Section 44 difficulty, that made this the first standard two-party result at the final count in this seat since Tony Windsor arrived on the scene in 2001. Joyce was down modestly in both primary and two-party terms, with One Nation’s slight 4.7% suggesting he may have some purchase among that party’s constituency.

Parkes (Nationals 17.8%; 0.9% swing to Nationals): A largely status quo result here for Nationals member Mark Coulton, with the 7.5% accounted for by the entry of One Nation taking bites out of the Nationals, Labor, the Liberal Democrats and United Australia. The Indigenous-Aboriginal Party candidate scored a creditable 5.0%.

Riverina (Nationals 14.8%; 4.6% swing to Labor): The 4.6% swing against former Nationals leader Michael McCormack in his still safe seat was above the norm for a regional seat, driven by a 13.4% slump in the primary vote that reflected the entry of One Nation on 8.2%, the Liberal Democrats on 6.7% (polling strongly as they tend to do in the absence of a Liberal candidate) and Shooters Fishers and Farmers on 6.4%. In the face of a smorgasbord of right-of-centre minor party alternatives, the United Australia Party’s advertising spend availed them of only 2.6%, down from 10.7% in 2019. Labor were also down 2.7% amidst the crowded field, even as the Greens (whose candidate was one-time Cunningham MP Michael Organ) trod water.

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.

7 comments on “Call of the board: southern and central New South Wales”

  1. Thanks WB

    You would think that the mass voting for the Nats in the “interior” would mean that the ‘bang for vote’ would be obvious. After 3 years living in Riverina it becomes more baffling by the day.

  2. Prof, you said “Labor member Stephen Jones went slightly backwards due to what appeared to be a swing against him at the Port Kembla end of his electorate, which runs northwards from there through Wollongong to the remainder of the northern end of the Illawarra region.”

    That’s not the case. Whitlam runs predominantly west from Lake Illawarra and covers much of the Southern Highlands, as well as Shellharbour and surrounds to the south. What you’ve described is the electoral map of Cunningham.

  3. The UAP got less bang for their monster spend than the LDP got out of picking a name similar to a major party…

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