Margin: Liberal 4.9%
Region: Hunter Region
Federal: Hunter (49%)/Paterson (35%)/Newcastle (16%)
Outgoing member: Robyn Parker (Liberal)
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.
Located in the Lower Hunter region about 200 kilometres north of Sydney, Maitland was gained for the Liberals in 2011 by former upper house MP Robyn Parker, who is to retire at the coming election. The electorate encompasses urban territory centred upon the town that bears its name, extending from Thornton in the south-east to Rutherford in the north-west. The 2011 election turned a Labor margin of 9.7% into a Liberal one of 6.3%, which the redistribution has pared back to 4.9% by ceding around 5800 voters in rural territory around Seaham to Port Stephens in the east.
Maitland has existed as an electorate without interruption since 1904, including seven years as a three-member district during the period of proportional representation from 1920 to 1927. The United Australia Party and then the Liberal Party held the seat from the defeat of Jack Lang’s government in 1932 until the 1981 election, when it was gained for Labor by Allan Walsh. Walsh served as member until his retirement at the 1991 election, when redistribution turned it into a Liberal seat by extending it to Dungog and surrounding rural territory to the north. Peter Blackmore then held the seat for the Liberals until 1999, when a new redistribution shifted the balance back to the urbanised southern end. A 1.9% swing to Labor at the ensuing election was sufficient to deliver victory to Labor’s John Price, who had held the abolished seat of Waratah since 1984.
Price retired at the 2007 election and was succeeded by Frank Terenzini, a Director of Public Prosecutions solicitor. Terenzini first had to overcome a comeback attempt by Peter Blackmore, now the local mayor and this time running as an independent. Blackmore outpolled the Liberals candidate by 26.6% to 20.5%, but ultimately fell 1.7% short after preferences. Terenzini announced in early 2010 that he would not seek another term, but later had a change of heart and signed on for the forlorn task of defending the seat at the 2011 election. He was duly defeated by Liberal candidate Robyn Parker, who had been in the Legislative Council since the 2003 election but now found herself squeezed out of preselection. The way for her endorsement as the candidate for Maitland was reportedly smoothed by a deal in which members of her moderate faction supported Right warlord David Clarke in a challenge to his upper house preselection from lobbyist David Elliott, who ended up being accommodated in Baulkham Hills.
Parker was made Environment Minister after the 2011 election, in what Sean Nicholls of the Sydney Morning Herald described as a surprise choice, before being dropped in the reshuffle when Mike Baird became Premier in April 2014. She announced later in the year that she would not seek another term, and is to be succeeded as Liberal candidate by Steve Thomson, a former Maitland Business Chamber president. Thomson won preselection unopposed after Newcastle councillor Lisa Tierney withdrew citing medical reasons. Labor’s candidate is Jenny Aitchison, part-owner of a local travel agency. Also in the field is Maitland councillor and independent candidate Philip Penfold, who has been spruiking a private poll showing him behind Aitchison but ahead of Thomson.
Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.