New South Wales election 2015

Port Stephens

Margin: Liberal 14.7%
Region: Hunter Region
Federal: Paterson (97%)/Newcastle (3%)

Outgoing member: Craig Baumann (Independent)

Candidates in ballot paper order

portstephens-lib

portstephens-alp

JOE SHIRLEY
No Land Tax

PETER ARENA
Christian Democratic Party

KATE WASHINGTON
Labor (bottom)

KEN JORDAN
Liberal (top)

ROCHELLE FLOOD
Greens

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.

Gained by the Liberals from Labor in 2007, Port Stephens is to be vacated at the coming election by Craig Baumann, who together with most of his Liberal colleagues on the Central Coast has been embroiled in the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s inquiries into property developer donations. Baumann admitted last September to using false invoices to conceal payments from developers Jeff McCloy and Hilton Grugeon while serving in his pre-parliamentary capacity as mayor of Port Stephens, and acknowledged he did so because McCloy and Grugeon could have profited from a development proposal being considered by the council. He then announced his resignation from the Liberal Party, having been threatened with expulsion if he failed to do so.

The Port Stephens electorate is centred on the inlet at the northern end of the Hunter region that bears its name, encompassing population centres around Tea Gardens on its northern shore and Nelson Bay in the south, together with Raymond Terrace and Medowie to the south-west. Labor has traditionally been strongest around Raymond Terrace, with the Liberals drawing support from Nelson Bay and its surrounds. The redistribution has given the Liberal margin a 2.3% boost by exchanging the northern parts of Newcastle, accounting for 7000 voters around Warabrook, for rural territory around Seaham in the west, adding nearly 6000 from Maitland.

Port Stephens was created as an electorate in 1988 from territory that had mostly been covered by Newcastle since 1981, and by Gloucester beforehand. Labor candidate Robert Martin won by 90 votes at the 1988 election, but the result was overturned when the Court of Disputed Returns ruled unsolicited government cheques given by Martin to local community groups during the campaign were a form of bribery. Martin nonetheless picked up a 12.9% swing at the ensuing by-election and retained the seat in 1991, despite a redistribution that had made it notionally Liberal. He retired in 1999 and was succeeded by John Bartlett, who in turn bowed out due to ill health at the 2007 election.

Craig Baumann gained the seat for the Liberals in 2007 with a cliffhanger 68-vote win over Labor candidate Jim Arneman, achieved from a swing of 7.2%. He predictably went untroubled in the 2011 landslide, piling 12.4% on to his slender existing margin. His successor as Liberal candidate is Ken Jordan, a Port Stephens councillor and school teacher, who reportedly won a local preselection ballot over local businesswoman Jaimie Abbott by 21 to 16. Jordan had backing from Baumann and federal Paterson MP Bob Baldwin, and local mayor Bruce MacKenzie threatened to run as an independent if he was not preselected. Labor is again fielding its candidate from 2011, Newcastle solicitor Kate Washington.

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

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