Margin: Liberal 28.4%
Region: Western Sydney Fringe
Federal: Macquarie (87%)/Berowra (13%)
Candidates in ballot paper order
2011 BOOTH RESULTS MAP
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.
Encompassing territory around the river on Sydney’s north-western edge that gives it its name, Hawkesbury is a safe Liberal seat that will play host to a seat swap at the coming election between Dominic Perrottet, who comes to Hawkesbury from neighbouring Castle Hill, and Ray Williams, who goes the other way. The change results from a redistribution that leaves its geographic shape largely intact, thanks to undeveloped areas encompassing Wollemi and Yengo national parks in the electorate’s north, but substantially changes its voter base through amendments at the Sydney end. Richmond and Windsor have been added to the western end of the electorate, respectively adding 16,500 voters from Londonderry and nearly 13,000 from Riverstone, while further east 30,000 in the Hills district suburbs around Kellyville have been transferred to Castle Hill. The changes cut 6.3% from what remains a formidable Liberal margin.
The electorate of Hawkesbury has existed in one form another since the state’s third parliamentary election in 1859, barring the interruption of proportional representation from 1920 to 1927, and has been won by the Liberals at every election since 1950. Preselection coups unfolded at successive elections in 2003 and 2007, with Steven Pringle ousting Kevin Rozzoli on the former occasion, and present incumbent Ray Williams accounting for Pringle on the latter. Pringle had enjoyed backing in 2003 from what Simon Benson of the Daily Telegraph called “right-wing extremists as well as the Left”, but Brad Norington of The Australian reported that he then proceeded to make “a number of enemies who dislike his style and past opposition to some building developments in the area”. It was further reported that he lost control locally after an influx of Lebanese Maronite Christians swelled membership of the Beaumont Hills branch from 17 members to 500.
Pringle duly lost preselection to Ray Williams, a Baulkham Hills councillor and bus maintenance worker who enjoyed support from Right faction powerbroker and upper house MP David Clarke. Pringle reacted to his defeat by quitting the party and reiterating the popular theme that it had become “controlled by an exclusive sect, an extremist right-wing group”, of which Clarke was the “Godfather”. This prompted a rebuke from then Prime Minister John Howard, who described him as a “hypocrite” and a “sore loser”. Pringle contested the election as an independent and polled 27.1% to Williams’ 45.6%, with Williams prevailing by 6.6% after preferences.
The latest redistribution presented Williams with a difficulty by transferring his strongest party branches at Rouse Hill to neighbouring Castle Hill. He promptly declared himself set on moving to that electorate, which threatened to unseat its up-and-coming existing member, Dominic Perrottet. Perrottet tried his hand at preselection in Hawkesbury, which presented him with strong opposition in the shape of Londonderry MP Bart Bassett, who was seeking a safer seat after the redistribution slashed his existing margin. Perrottet won the day by the narrow margin of 62 to 54, causing Bassett to make a new bid for the seat of Riverstone, but here he was scuppered after he became embroiled in the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s investigations into unlawful donations from property developers.
Perrottet came to parliament from a background as a political staffer and factional operative in religious Right faction of upper house MP David Clarke. His preselection to Castle Hill in 2011 had been part of the faction’s turf wars against the Centre Right faction of federal MP Alex Hawke, which threw its weight behind Ashley Pittard, a fund manager to Frank Lowy. Shortly after securing his new preselection berth in Hawkesbury, Perrottet won a substantial promotion to Finance and Services Minister in the April 2014 reshuffle that followed Mike Baird’s assumption of the premiership.