Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Redistribution: Gwydir Lost But Andren Loses Out

The results of the Federal distribution are in. The rural seat of Gwydir, currently held by former Nationals leader John Anderson, who has already announced his decision not to contest the next election, is to be abolished; thus - technically - no sitting member will be disadvantaged.

Tell that to Peter Andren, the Member for Calare, whose support base of Bathurst has been sliced off his seat in the carve-up. Andren, formerly a high-profile local journalist, represents everything the Nationals fear most - a popular Independent holding a comfortable majority in an area which should, as far as they are concerned, be the Nationals heartland (though its most famous former local member is of course the Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley). Now, the seat is notionally National, and there is speculation that in order to retain this support base, Andren may be forced to shift seats. Given that the redistribution necessarily leaves the Nationals with one less seat, they'll be fighting tooth and nail to oust Andren.

No party is particularly pleased with the changes (which, given that the Australian Electoral Commission is supposed to be imparital, is how it should be) - however, despite rumours to the contrary, the changes to Bennelong mean local member, John Howard is not only sitting in a marginal seat, but an even more marginal one. However, I doubt the speculation that this may encourage Howard to bow out gracefully (nevertheless, the prospect of the Ratty One being voted out of his own seat is delectable ...) One seat that looks a good prospect for Labor is the outer Sydney seat of LIndsay - held by the increasingly flaky Jackie Kelly - a seat which the ACTU reports has been particularly responsive to its campaign on WorkChoices.

More info at the AEC website, as well as excellent commentary by the indefatiguable Poll Bludger and the more fatiguable Oz.


At 8:48 pm, Anonymous Mountainman said...

Small correction - Andren's support base is actually Orange. It's where he worked on radio and it's where he polls way, way above 70%. It's staying in Calare. In Bathurst he does quite well, around 50% and in Lithgow rather well enough to win, but if he had to contest a seat that includes the Blue Mountains he'd be on a hiding to nothing. The Mountains put in a big primary vote for Labor. The seat is currently held by a popular Liberal (but only because he captures the Christian/ small farming/business vote of th Hawkesbury).

If Andren ran in Macquarie's new boundaries he'd probably do all right, but his base is in Orange. He's going to survive no matter where he runs, but his new electorate is rather bigger than the one he's got now.

At 11:56 am, Blogger Minotaur said...

I probably should have risked the ire of fiercely independent Orangites and said `the greater Bathurst area' (yes, I know Orange is bigger, but in my hugely biased opinion - having spent a great deal of time in the area - Bathurst is the place that would be on the map in the bolder type).

But I agree with your basic point - both geographically and physically, the land on the other side of the Great Dividing Range is another world, where the sort of `lone local voice against the big city' pitch rural independents like Andren, Tony Windsor and Dawn Fardell triumph on is far less relevant.

At 11:57 am, Blogger Minotaur said...

That should have been `geographically and politically'.


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