New South Wales election 2015

Blacktown

Margin: Labor 4.1%
Region: Western Sydney
Federal: Chifley (65%)/Greenway (35%)

Candidates in ballot paper order

blacktown-alp

blacktown-lib

JOHN ROBERTSON
Labor (top)

JULIA CACCIOTTI
No Land Tax

DAVID BATE
Greens

MEENA HANNA
Christian Democratic Party

RAMAN BHALLA
Liberal (bottom)

2011 BOOTH RESULTS MAP

PAST RESULTS

DEMOGRAPHICS

Two-party preferred booth results from 2011 state election showing Labor majority in red and Liberal in blue. New boundaries in thicker blue lines, old ones in thinner red lines. Boundary data courtesy of Ben Raue of The Tally Room.

One of Labor’s 20 surviving seats from the 2011 disaster, John Robertson’s electorate of Blacktown covers suburbs to the north of the Great Western Highway about 30 kilometres west of central Sydney, encompassing Blacktown itself and its western neighbour Doonside together with Kings Park, Marayong and southern Quakers Hill to the north, with the Westlink M7 as its northern boundary. The redistribution has added territory from abolished Toongabbie in the east, including 6600 voters in western Lalor Park and surrounding areas, and transferred around 6000 in parts of Blacktown and Prospect to the new seat of Prospect in the south. The combined effect of the changes is to increase the Labor margin from 3.7% to 4.1%, after it was savaged by an 18.7% swing in 2011.

Blacktown was created in 1941 and has been won by Labor at every election except 1959, at which time its electoral boundaries briefly extended into Sydney’s northern outskirts. John Aquilina held the seat from 1981 to 1991, when the abolition of the Wentworthville electorate initiated a game of musical chairs among sitting Labor members. Aquilina was persuaded to stand for Riverstone, which had moved into the northern area of the old Blacktown, while Blacktown itself went to Wentworthville MP Pam Allan. The wheel spun again with the cut in parliamentary numbers in 1999, when Allan returned to the recreated Wentworthville (which has been progressively succeeded by Toongabbie and now Seven Hills), and Blacktown went to Paul Gibson, member for Londonderry since 1988.

Together with Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi, Gibson was a member of the “Terrigals” sub-faction of the New South Wales Right, and enjoyed a colourful career as a parliamentarian from which two incidents stand out. One was a scathing assessment from an assistant commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption concerning evidence he had given about his association with Kings Cross identity Louis Bayeh. The other was a feud with Blue Mountains MP Phil Koperberg, who claimed Gibson planned to leak an apprehended violence order taken out against him in 1987 by his ex-wife, Kate Koperberg. The Daily Telegraph reported that Gibson was “believed to be the only political figure” with access to Kate Koperberg’s order, as he had recently concluded a 10-year relationship with her.

Gibson won an enormously contentious promotion to the ministry after the 2007 election, which among other things put him at the cabinet table alongside Koperberg. He was dropped very shortly afterwards when an unidentified MP told Morris Iemma he had been witness 16 years earlier to an assault by Gibson on his then partner, former Sports Minister Sandra Nori. Iemma referred the matter to police, who found there was insufficient evidence to lay charges. Gibson’s persistent influence in the face of adversity reportedly stemmed from the backing of the National Union of Workers and his role as “an important conduit of donations from pubs to the party”, as described by Imre Salusinszky of The Australian. During his final term in parliament, Gibson raised the possibility of running as an independent if his preselection was threatened, as seemed all but certain. He ultimately announced in December 2010 he would not seek another term, citing his mother’s ill health.

Gibson’s departure created an opening for Transport Minister and upper house MP John Robertson, who had been casting around for a safe lower house seat with a view to assuming the leadership after the inevitable election defeat. Having duly survived Labor’s devastation at the election, Robertson won the leadership without opposition. The possibility of Maroubra MP Michael Daley or Marrickville MP Carmel Tebbutt putting their names forward was canvassed in the days after the election, but Robertson was always rated the front-runner owing to the backing of head office and the Right. This drew the ire of critics including Paul Keating, Morris Iemma, Michael Costa and Mark Latham, whose enmity Robertson had earned through his role in scuppering electricity privatisation as secretary of Unions NSW, and the resulting crippling of Iemma’s premiership.

Robertson resigned as Opposition Leader in December 2014 after it was revealed he had sent a letter to the Department of Family and Community Services on behalf of Lindt café siege gunman Man Haron Monis, and he has since been on the back bench.

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

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