Margin: Liberal 21.6%
Region: Western Sydney Fringe
Federal: Hume (57%)/Throsby (30%)/Macarthur (13%)
Candidates in ballot paper order
2011 BOOTH RESULTS MAP
Two-party preferred booth results from 2011 state election showing Labor majority in red and Nationals in green. New boundaries in thicker blue lines, old ones in thinner red lines. Boundary data courtesy of Ben Raue of The Tally Room.
Wollondilly is located at and beyond the margins of south-western Sydney, its dominating feature being the Hume Motorway. On its pre-redistribution boundaries, it was a naturally marginal seat that went strongly to the Liberals in 2011, but it has now been strengthened for the Liberals by 6.9% through an exchange of urban outskirts south of Campbelltown for Bowral and Mittagong a further 50 kilometres out along the motorway, which respectively transfers 23,000 voters to Campbelltown and adds 20,500 from Goulburn. Located roughly half way between the two are the main population centres being carried over from the old electorate to the new, the exurbs of Bargo, Tahmoor, Picton and Thirlmere.
The electorate was created at the 2007 election to accommodate growth at Sydney’s south-eastern edge, from territory that had hitherto been accommodated mostly by Campbelltown. An electorate of Wollondilly had previously existed from 1904 to 1981, in which time its character was that of a conservative rural electorate, which Labor succeeded in winning only in the “Wranslide” of 1978. Among its members were two conservative Premiers in George Fuller (1922 to 1925) and Tom Lewis (1975 to 1976). Lewis went on to lose the seat at the 1978 election, joining a Liberal casualty list that also included party leader Peter Coleman in Fuller.
Wollondilly had a notional Labor margin of 4.6% upon its recreation at the 2007 election, at which Labor boosted its cause by enlisting the services of local mayor Phil Costa, who had earlier been planning to run as an independent. With further help from a fraught Liberal preselection process, Costa limited the swing against him to 1.5% to prevail by 3.1%, going on to serve in the ministry after Nathan Rees became Premier in September 2008. Costa was one of a small number of marginal seat Labor MPs who signed on to the hopeless task of defending their seats at the March 2011 election, when he was duly unseated by a swing of 18.0%.
The successful Liberal candidate was Jai Rowell, a local councillor and former adviser to Charlie Lynn, an upper house MP and an ally of Right faction warlord David Clarke. Rowell was also a preselection aspirant in 2007, but was thwarted in part by the intervention of then leader Peter Debnam. He won promotion to the ministry when Mike Baird became Premier in April 2014, taking on the positions of Mental Health Minister and Assistant Health Minister. His Labor opponent at the coming election is Ciaran O’Brien, a former naval engineer and more recently a medicine student at the University of Wollongong.
Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.