Margin: Nationals 31.9%*
Region: North Coast
Federal: Page (85%)/Cowper (15%)
* Nationals 15.1% at by-election on 19/11/2011
Candidates in ballot paper order
2011 BOOTH RESULTS MAP
Two-party preferred booth results from 2011 state election showing Nationals majority in green and Labor in red. New boundaries in thicker blue lines, old ones in thinner red lines. Boundary data courtesy of Ben Raue of The Tally Room.
The north coast seat of Clarence was the first of seven seats which have faced by-elections in the term since the 2011 election, and while the seat was easily retained by the Nationals by a margin of 15.1%, it provided a harbinger of things to come in swinging by 16.3% to Labor. The electorate takes its name from the river that runs through its centre and covers the coast from Wooli north to Broadwater, its major population centres being Grafton on the Clarence River and Casino in the far north. The redistribution has transferred around 1500 voters around Corindi Beach to its southern neighbour Coffs Harbour, while adding a similar number from the seat of Lismore just to the north of Casino. Based on 2011 election numbers, the changes add 0.5% to the Nationals margin.
Clarence was a stronghold of the National/Country Party from the abolition of proportional representation in 1927 until Neville Wran’s 1981 landslide, when it was won for Labor by Don Day. An interesting exception was the 1968 election, when 35.7% of voters backed a candidate of the “New State Movement”, which wished to see New England secede from New South Wales. Ian Causley recovered the seat for the Nationals in 1984 and remained the member until 1996, when he successfully contested the Labor-held federal seat of Page.
Labor’s defeated member in Page, Harry Woods, then filled Causley’s vacancy in Clarence by picking up a resounding 14.0% swing at the resulting by-election, adding a handy buffer to what had previously been the Carr government’s one-seat majority. Woods was narrowly re-elected at the 1999 election, but on his retirement in 2003 the seat was won for the Nationals on the second attempt by Steve Cansdell. A favourable redistribution followed by a 6.3% swing boosted his margin to 11.6% in 2007, which was followed by a swing of 19.8% in 2011.
The by-election of November 19, 2011 was occasioned by Cansdell’s resignation after it emerged he had signed a false statutory declaration to avoid a speeding fine. It was won for the Nationals by Chris Gulaptis, a former Clarence Valley councillor and mayor of Maclean who had unsuccessfully run for the federal seat of Page upon Ian Causley’s retirement in 2007.
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