Margin: Nationals 6.8% versus Independent
Region: New England
Federal: New England
Candidates in ballot paper order
2011 BOOTH RESULTS MAP
Two-party preferred booth results from 2011 state election showing Nationals majority in green and Independent in grey. New boundaries in thicker blue lines, old ones in thinner red lines. Boundary data courtesy of Ben Raue of The Tally Room.
Tamworth was one of three independent-held seats recovered by the Nationals at the 2011 election, at which present incumbent Kevin Anderson rode to a 7.8% victory after preferences over independent Peter Draper, who had held the seat since 2003. The electorate encompasses 21,718 square kilometres of territory centred around Tamworth itself, the other major population centre being Gunnedah 75 kilometres to the west. The redistribution has expanded the electorate eastwards into Walcha and surrounding rural territory, adding 2500 voters from Northern Tablelands.
The electorate of Tamworth was first created in 1880, and the only interruption to its existence since came with the seven-year regime of multi-member proportional representation districts from 1920 to 1927. Labor has never held the seat, but its National/Country Party orientation has frequently been disturbed by independents. Local farmer Tony Windsor won the seat in 1991 after failing to win Nationals endorsement to succeed long-standing member Noel Park, polling 36.2% of the primary vote to secure an easy 9.8% win after preferences. Windsor was henceforth unassailable, to the extent that the Nationals did not field a candidate in 1995 and managed only 11.6% upon returning to the field in 1999. In 2001 he quit state politics to successfully stand for the seat of New England at that year’s federal election, retaining the seat until his retirement in 2013.
The by-election to replace Windsor saw Tamworth briefly return to the Nationals fold, local farmer John Cull benefiting from a split in the independent vote between James Treloar and Warren Woodley, respectively the mayor and former mayor. However, Cull went on to defeat in 2003 at the hands of another independent, Peter Draper, previously the regional manager of Hazelton Airlines. Draper polled particularly well in the booths around Tamworth, whereas the Nationals comfortably win the booths in Gunnedah. Draper only slightly built upon his delicate 1.9% margin with a 2.9% swing at the 2007 election, and was unable to hold back the tide to the Nationals in the 2011 landslide.
The seat has since been held for the Nationals by Kevin Anderson, a former local businessman who won his party’s preselection through an experimental US-style “open primary” preselection in which anyone enrolled in the electorate was free to participate. An impressive 4293 did so, with Anderson scoring 49.4% of the vote in a field of four, no doubt boosted by his high local profile after 11 years as presenter of Tamworth’s Prime Local News. Anderson will again face Peter Draper at the coming election, who announced his bid to recover his old seat in December.
Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.