Margin: Liberal 4.6%
Region: Central Coast
Federal: Dobell (86%)/Shortland (14%)
Outgoing member: Darren Webber (Independent)
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.
A Liberal gain at the 2011 election, Wyong is one of a swathe of seats along the Central Coast where Liberal members have fallen victim over the past term to the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s investigations into political donations from property developers. The seat will accordingly be vacated at the coming election by sitting member Darren Webber, with the seat to be contested for Labor by David Harris, whom Webber unseated in 2011.
The electorate is dominated by the Tuggerah Lakes, encompassing its western bank from Chittaway Bay north through Wyong proper to Blue Haven, together with Norah Head and Toukley on the thin strip of land between the lake and the ocean. The redistribution has cut territory at both the northern and southern end. In the former case, around 3500 voters in Sam Remo and Budgewoi are transferred to Swansea, while in the latter a similar number in southern Berkeley Vale go to The Entrance. The losses are counter-balanced through an expansion into state forest and semi-rural areas around Jilliby, adding more than 3000 voters formerly in Lake Macquarie. The changes have been to the advantage of the Liberals, boosting their margin by 2.0%.
The electorate of Wyong was first created in 1962, but was reconstituted as Munmorah in 1973 and Tuggerah in 1981 before the recreation of Wyong in 1988. Each seat in turn was consistently held by Labor, Paul Crittenden having held Tuggerah and then Wyong from 1981 to 2007. Crittenden announced his intention to retire a year out from the 2007 election, saying he had done so to ensure his successor could be chosen by a rank-and-file ballot.
The preselection nonetheless ended up being determined by the party’s national executive, which installed Kariong Public School principal David Harris. This caused umbrage among local branch members, many of whom favoured Wyong councillor Warren Welham. The Labor primary vote at the ensuing election dropped by 12.6% to 42.5%, but the 5.4% two-party swing left Harris with a margin of 6.9%. Labor’s relatively low base going into the 2011 election presumably explains the relative modesty of the ensuing 9.5% swing to the Liberals, which was nonetheless enough to cost Harris the seat.
The successful Liberal candidate was Darren Webber, owner of a business installing home threatre systems. Webber’s troubles with ICAC began when his offices were raided in September 2013, and its inquiry would later hear that 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, Webber resigned from the party and announced he would not seek re-election after the Liberal Party commenced moves to suspend him.
The new Liberal candidate is Sandra Kerr, Wyong Chamber of Commerce president and Central Coast Tourism chair. David Harris has again been preselected by Labor for the seat he held from 2007 to 2011, having returned in the interim to his old vocation as a school principal.
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