Margin: Greens 4.8% versus Liberal
Region: Inner Western Sydney
Federal: Sydney (72%)/Grayndler (28%)
Candidates in ballot paper order
2011 BOOTH RESULTS MAP
Two-party preferred booth results from 2011 state election showing Labor majority in red and Nationals in green. New boundaries in thicker blue lines, old ones in thinner red lines. Boundary data courtesy of Ben Raue of The Tally Room.
Balmain gave the Greens its first ever seat in the New South Wales lower house at the 2011 election, when Labor member Verity Firth was reduced to third place after a 9.1% slump in the primary vote. It has since been held for the Greens by Jamie Parker, who will again face Verity Firth as Labor candidate at the coming election. The electorate is located immediately west of the Sydney electorate, extending from Glebe west to Haberfield and north into the Balmain peninsula. The redistribution has caused it to lose its westernmost suburb of Haberfield to the new electorate of Summer Hill, home to nearly 5000 voters, while adding the 2600 voters of Ultimo at the city end. The changes have been to the advantage of the Greens, increasing their notional margin over the Liberals by an estimated 1.3%. However, Antony Green calculates the margin at just 0.4% over Labor, who would seem considerably more likely than the Liberals to finish second this time around.
Balmain was created at the 2007 election as the successor to Port Jackson, the redistribution having transferred the city centre to its eastern neighbour, Bligh, which was duly renamed Sydney. Port Jackson was itself created in 1991 by a merger of Balmain, then held by swimming legend Dawn Fraser, and McKell, won for Labor in 1988 by Sandra Nori. Fraser and Nori both contested the new seat, and Nori won easily with 50.7% of the primary vote to Fraser’s 18.9%. Nori was succeeded in 2007 by Verity Firth, the Deputy Lord Mayor and a former lawyer with Slater & Gordon, who went on to serve as Education Minister from September 2008 until the government’s defeat in 2011.
The Greens first emerged as a threat when Jamie Parker first ran in 2003, polling well clear of the Liberals on 28.9% to finish on 42.7% after preferences. A further 3.2% was shaved from the margin in 2007 by another Leichhardt councillor, Rochelle Porteous, although there was little change on the primary vote. Parker, who had served on Leichhardt City Council since 1999 and was now the mayor, again won endorsement from the party in 2011, and this time rode to victory on the back of an unprecedented collapse in support for Labor. The three main parties emerged with roughly even shares of the primary vote, with Liberal on 32.6%, the Greens on 30.7% and Labor on 30.2%, with Parker emerging 205 votes ahead of Firth after the distribution of other candidates’ preferences, and going on to defeat the Liberal candidate by 3.5% after preferences.
Balmain was one of five seats Labor targeted with its community preselection process, in which half the vote is determined by a ballot of local party members and the other half by a “community” vote open to anyone enrolled in the electorate willing to sign on as a party supporter. Verity Firth faced strong opposition in this process from Leichhardt mayor Darcy Byrne, who narrowly defeated her in the party member vote by 51.3% to 48.7%. However, Firth had a decisive 60.7% to 39.3% win on the community vote, which attracted over 5000 participants. The Liberals are evidently not expecting a repeat of their close run in 2011, as their candidate is fresh-faced Lyndon Gannon, who has had a number of jobs in the local community
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