New South Wales election 2015

The Entrance

Margin: Liberal 11.8%
Region: Central Coast
Federal: Robertson (93%)/Dobell (7%)

Outgoing member: Chris Spence (Independent)

Candidates in ballot paper order



Liberal (top)

Christian Democratic Party


Labor (bottom)

No Land Tax




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.

A Liberal gain at the 2011 election, The Entrance is one of a swathe of seats along the Central Coast where Liberal members have since fallen victim to the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s investigations into political donations from property developers. The seat takes its name from the short channel linking the ocean and Tuggerah Lake, the latter of which forms part of its northern boundary. It encompasses the coastal towns of Blue Bay, Long Jetty and Bateau Bay, and extends inland to Fountaindale, Glenning Valley and Ourimbah. The redistribution has added around 3600 voters at Berkeley Vale on the southern shore of Tuggerah Lake, formerly in Wyong, and transferred 3300 in Narara to Gosford at the western end.

The Entrance was created as an electorate with the enlargement of parliament in 1988, when it was contested for Labor by Brian McGowan, previously the member for the neighbouring seat of Gosford. Labor ended up losing both seats, The Entrance being gained for the Liberals by Bob Graham. Graham initially won re-election in 1991 by 116 votes, but the result was overturned by the Court of Disputed Returns on the grounds that confusion over new boundaries caused a number of absent voters to cast votes for Gosford. The resulting by-election was won for Labor by Grant McBride, an engineer and former electorate secretary to Gough Whitlam, which meant Nick Greiner’s minority government needed the support of all three independents to stay in office. McBride served in the ministry after the 2003 election and as Speaker after 2007, before bowing out in 2011.

The Liberals raised eyebrows ahead of the 2011 election by preselecting Chris Spence, who had been a One Nation candidate at the 1998 federal and 2003 state elections, and a staffer to its state upper house MP, David Oldfield. He had more recently worked on the staff of local Liberal potentate Chris Hartcher, member for Gosford and then Terrigal. The controversy did Spence no harm at the election, at which the modest Labor margin was crushed by a swing of 17.3%. Spence went on to have his offices raided by ICAC in September 2013, and its inquiry later heard he had invoiced the Liberal slush fund EightByFive for consultancy work in what appeared to be an effort to draw upon unlawful donations from property developers. Although denying any wrongdoing, Spence resigned from the party when it began moves to suspend him, and announced he would not seek re-election.

The new Liberal candidate for the seat is local businessman Michael Sharpe, former managing director of a civil contracting company specialising in road construction, who won preselection ahead of Wyong mayor Doug Eaton. Labor is again running its candidate from 2011, David Mehan, a manager with a not-for-profit superannuation fund and former official with the National Union of Workers. Mehan also ran in the federal seat of Dobell in 2004, and launched what could have been a fortuitous preselection challenge against Craig Thomson before the 2010 election. He secured preselection for The Entrance after winning a rank-and-file ballot against Trevor Drake, a former Gosford deputy mayor and one-time Liberal Party member who sought Labor’s Dobell preselection in 2013, and Michelle Cashman, a local nurse.

Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.

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