New South Wales election 2015


Margin: Liberal 26.8%
Region: Regional South-Eastern
Federal: Hume (81%)/Throsby (19%)

Candidates in ballot paper order



Outdoor Recreation Party

Liberal (top)


Christian Democratic Party

No Land Tax

Labor (bottom)




Two-party preferred booth results from 2011 state election showing Liberal majority in blue 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.

Held for the Liberals by Planning Minister Pru Goward, the electorate of Goulburn was created in its current incarnation with the abolition of Southern Highlands in 2007, taking much of that electorate’s territory together with about 20,000 voters in Goulburn itself, which had hitherto been in Burrinjuck. The latest redistribution sees the seat adopt boundaries roughly similar to those of Burrinjuck before 2007, having gained nearly 18,000 of its voters around Yass, Crookwell and Booroowa in the west, with Burrinjuck itself now abolished. There is a corresponding loss of 20,000 voters in and around Bowral and Mittagong in the east to Wollondilly, although it also gains 2000 voters at the eastern end around Robertson, formerly in Kiama.

Prior to its recreation in 2007, Goulburn had existed as an electorate from three years after the establishment of the New South Wales parliament in 1856 until 1991, including a period as a three-member district during the seven-year proportional representation experiment from 1920. Labor held the seat from the reintroduction of single-member electorates in 1927 until a decisive break in 1965, after which it was held by the National/Country Party until its abolition. However, Southern Highlands was in Liberal hands at the time it absorbed Goulburn in 1991, having been won by future Premier John Fahey when it was created at the 1988 election, and the Nationals did not field candidates against him. The next three-cornered contest was the by-election held when Fahey transferred to federal politics as member for Macarthur in 1996, which Liberal candidate Peta Seaton won by 2.4% over Nationals candidate Katrina Hodgkinson, who went on to become member for Burrinjuck in 1999.

Seaton retirement announcement ahead of the 2007 election created a vacancy in the reconstituted seat of Goulburn, and with it an opportunity for Pru Goward, who that very same day had lost a preselection contest for the Sydney seat of Epping. Despite credentials including her appointment by John Howard as Sex Discrimination Commissioner and her background as a high-profile ABC journalist, as well as the fact that she lived just outside the electorate in Yass, the party hierarchy’s efforts to smooth the way for Goward met considerable local opposition. Then party leader Peter Debnam had to talk constitutional lawyer Martin Laverty out of running against her for preselection, and a further threat emerged at the election itself when Goulburn mayor Paul Stephenson ran as an independent. After an early scare on election night, Goward ultimately prevailed by a 1.4% margin, winning the primary vote by 39.9% to 24.7%.

Goward won immediate promotion to the front bench and took on the important community services portfolio in December 2008, which she retained in government after the 2011 election victory. She transferred to planning in the reshuffle that followed Mike Baird’s assumption of the premiership in April 2014. A new danger to Goward’s hold on Goulburn appeared to emerge when the redistribution abolished Burrinjuck, prompting Katrina Hodgkinson to declare herself intent on contesting Goulburn. However, Barry O’Farrell prevailed on her to instead contest the new seat of Cootamundra, which includes the western half of Burrinjuck.

Labor’s candidate for the seat will be Ursula Stephens, who served in the Senate from 2002 until mid-2014, having failed to win re-election from the third position on Labor’s ticket at the 2013 election.

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