New South Wales election 2015

Bathurst

Margin: Nationals 23.7%
Region: Regional Western
Federal: Calare (96%)/Hunter (3%)/Parkes (1%)

Candidates in ballot paper order

bathurst-nat

bathurst-alp

NARELLE RIGBY
Christian Democratic Party

CASS COLEMAN
Labor (bottom)

PAUL TOOLE
Nationals (top)

TRACEY CARPENTER
Greens

TOM CRIPPS
No Land Tax

2011 BOOTH RESULTS MAP

PAST RESULTS

DEMOGRAPHICS

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.

Amid an altogether extraordinary result, the single most radical outcome of the 2011 election was the 36.7% two-party swing in Bathurst, where the Nationals primary vote increased by 36.4% to 67.2% while Labor’s plummeted by 32.5% to 12.0%. The seat had last been in the National/Country Party fold from 1967 to 1981, but had otherwise been held by Labor since 1925, barring one-off defeats at the hands of the Country Party in 1932 and the Liberals in 1988.

The electorate presently encompasses Bathurst itself and surrounding rural territory inland of the Blue Mountains, including Lithgow at the eastern end of the electorate, Oberon in the south and Blayney in the west. Labor has traditionally balanced off strength in the larger population centres against strong support for the Nationals in the rural areas. It has only undergone minor changes in the redistribution, gaining a small area from abolished Burrinjuck and losing similarly thinly populated territory to Orange and Dubbo.

Bathurst has existed as an electorate in one form or another since 1856, including seven years as a three-member district when proportional representation operated after 1920. Christopher Kelly was Labor’s member for all but one term from 1925 until his death in 1967, when it fell to Clive Osborne of the Country Party. Osborne held the seat until his defeat in 1981, partly caused by the electorate’s absorption of Labor-voting Lithgow due to the Wran government’s abolition of rural vote weighting. Labor’s narrowly victorious candidate was Mick Clough, who had held Blue Mountains since 1976, and would retain Bathurst for all but one term until his retirement in 1999. The exception came with the defeat of the Unsworth government in 1988, when Liberal candidate David Berry prevailed by 2.2%.

Clough easily recovered the seat with a 10.3% swing when he ran again in 1991, but his margin was wound back to 1.0% when the Nationals rather than the Liberals contested the seat in 1995. Gerard Martin had no trouble keeping the seat in the Labor fold when Clough retired in 1999, prevailing by 17.8% after candidates from both Coalition parties succeeded only in splitting the vote. He maintained double-digit margins when only the Nationals took the field in 2003 and 2007, and presumably took a handsome personal vote into retirement with him in 2011.

The Nationals member since 2011 has been former Bathurst mayor Paul Toole, whose father Trevor Toole ran unsuccessfully for Bathurst in 1984 and 1995, and for the federal seat of Calare in 1996, when he was defeated by independent Peter Andren. Toole won promotion to cabinet as Local Government Minister when Mike Baird became Premier in April 2014, part of a reorganisation that saw George Souris and Don Page make way for Toole and Dubbo MP Troy Grant ahead of their impending retirements.

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

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