Margin: Labor 12.5%
Location: Central Coast, New South Wales
Outgoing member: Sharon Grierson (Labor)
In a nutshell: The only seat in parliament to be held without interruption since federation, Newcastle is to be vacated at the coming election with the retirement of Sharon Grierson, member since 2011.
The candidates (ballot paper order)
YEGON DALLY McLELLAN
LAWRENCE JOSEPH HIGGINS
To be vacated at the coming election with the retirement of Sharon Grierson, Newcastle covers the entirety of the Newcastle municipality apart from the outer suburb of Wallsend, which is accommodated by Charlton, along with undeveloped areas to the north in the Maitland and Port Stephens local government areas. It is the only House of Representatives electorate to have been held by Labor without interruption since federation, and has had only five members over its history: David Watkins until 1935, his son David Oliver Watkins until 1958, Charles Jones until 1983, Allan Morris until 2001, and Grierson thereafter.
Sharon Grierson was a school teacher before entering politics, and remained on the back bench throughout her time in parliament. Her 7.0% margin on her debut in 2001 was the smallest for Labor in the seat’s history, but she subsequently pushed it well into double figures with swings of 3.0% in 2004 and 6.8% in 2007, before suffering a 3.4% swing in 2010. Her successor as Labor candidate is her long-standing electorate officer Sharon Claydon, a Newcastle councillor from 2008 to 2012 and like Grierson a member of the Left faction. The Liberal candidate is Jaimie Abbott, principal of media training company Gold Star Media, who has previously worked as a television and radio journalist, public affairs officer with the RAAF, and media adviser to Paterson PM Bob Baldwin.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.