The Poll Bludger
Margin: Liberal 2.2%
Region: Southern Sydney, New South Wales
In a nutshell: The southern Sydney seat of Banks was won by the Liberals for the very first time at the 2013 election, and its recovery is essential to Labor if it is to be seriously competitive.
Candidates in ballot paper order
ROY OWEN BARNES
The seat of Banks in southern Sydney was lost by Labor at the 2013 election for the first time since its creation in 1949, when Liberal candidate David Coleman unseated Daryl Melham, its Labor member of 23 years. The electorate extends from the Georges River in the south to the South Western Motorway in the north, encompassing the Liberal-voting riverside suburbs of Oatley and Lugarno through to Labor-voting Padstow and Riverwood in the north.
While the margin is little affected, Banks has undergone fairly significant changes in the redistribution, the general effect of which is to reverse those made in 2010. Approximately 15,000 voters in and around Panania are recovered from Hughes in the west, and the boundary in the east is redrawn so that 12,000 voters in Hurstville go to Barton and 6000 in Blakehurst go to Cook, while 2000 in Carlton are gained from Barton. In setting the northern boundary at the South Western Motorway, 3500 voters in southern Punchbowl have been transferred to Watson, while 1300 in Revesby go to Blaxland.
The original draft redistribution proposed a more eastward orientation, but this was reversed amid the backlash over the Barton-Grayndler boundary being drawn through Marrickville. This was resolved by curtailing Barton’s gains from Grayndler, and compensating it with Hurstville. The loss of Hurstville’s Chinese community has reduced Banks’s share of non-English speakers from 52.2% to 44.3%, leaving it tenth ranked among the state’s 47 electorates. The Liberal margin is now 2.2%, compared with 1.8% in the redistribution and 2.6% in the draft proposal.
Banks was created when parliament was enlarged in 1949, prior to which its territory was mostly accommodated by Barton. Labor had held Barton since Herbert “Doc” Evatt gained it in 1940, and Banks would be held for Labor on margins in the low double digits for most of the 1950s and 1960s. However, a narrowing trend became evident in the 1970s and 1980s, and the margin held fell below 2% on three occasions after Daryl Melham came to the seat in 1990: with the defeat of the Keating government in 1996, the weak result for Labor under Mark Latham in 2004, and the backlash across Sydney in 2010. The swing on the latter occasion was 8.9%, reversing a 7.9% swing in Melham’s favour in 2007.
A further swing of 3.3% in 2013 delivered the seat to Liberal candidate David Coleman, a former director of strategy and digital for Nine Entertainment. Coleman has been identified as a moderate, and is a supporter of same-sex marriage. However, it was also reported that Tony Abbott supporters felt he might have supported him in the September 2015 leadership ballot if Scott Morrison had been whole-hearted enough in his loyalty to have mobilised those close to him. Labor’s candidate is Chris Gambian, an official with the Left faction Community and Public Sector Union whose parents emigrated from India shortly before his birth in the mid-1970s.
A few days before the election was called, Mark Riley of Seven News reported that polling conducted for Liberal sources on April 29 showed a statistical dead heat in Banks, with David Coleman credited with a two-party lead of 50.9-49.1.
Analysis by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.