Hunter – Australia 2013

ALP 12.5%

Incumbent MP
Joel Fitzgibbon, since 1996.

Geography
Hunter covers inland parts of the Hunter region, stretching from Maitland and Cessnock out to the Upper Hunter. Hunter covers southwestern parts of Maitland LGA, as well as Cessnock, Singleton, Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter council areas, as well as a small part of Mid-Western Regional Council.

History
Hunter is an original Federation seat, and has been held by Labor for most of its history. The seat was first won by Prime Minister Edmund Barton in 1901. Barton resigned as Prime Minister and Member for Hunter in 1903 to take a seat on the High Court, and Hunter was won at the following election by Free Trader Frank Liddell. Liddell held the seat at the 1906 election, but lost in 1910.

The seat was won in 1910 by the ALP’s Matthew Charlton. Charlton served as the ALP’s leader from 1922 to 1928, retiring at the 1928 election. He was succeeded by Rowley James, elected as a Labor candidate. James held the seat for thirty years, although he served as a member of Jack Lang’s breakaway party from 1931 to 1936, when he was readmitted to the ALP.

James retired in 1958, and was replaced by Labor leader HV Evatt. Evatt had previously held the Sydney seat of Barton, but judged it to be too marginal and moved to the safer Hunter.

Evatt resigned as Labor leader and Member for Hunter in 1960, and the by-election was won by Bert James, son of Rowley. The younger James held Hunter for twenty years, retiring in 1980.

He was succeeded by the ALP’s Bob Brown. Brown moved to the new seat of Charlton in 1984, and was succeeded in Hunter by former Mayor of Cessnock, Eric Fitzgibbon. Fitzgibbon held the seat for twelve years before retiring in 1996.

The seat was won in 1996 by Joel Fitzgibbon, son of the previous MP. Fitzgibbon rose through the ranks of the ALP in opposition and joined the cabinet as Minister for Defence after the election of the Rudd government.

Fitzgibbon was the first cabinet minister to resign in 2009, after being hit by a number of scandals. He came off the backbench following the 2010 election to serve as Chief Government Whip. He resigned as Whip in 2013 after supporting a bid to encourage Kevin Rudd to challenge for the Labor leadership.

Candidates

  • David Atwell (Greens)
  • Michael Johnsen (Nationals)
  • Ann Lawler (Citizens Electoral Council)
  • Bill Fox (One Nation)
  • Jennifer Stefanac (Palmer United Party)
  • Joel Fitzgibbon (Labor)
  • Richard Stretton (Christian Democratic Party)

Assessment
Hunter is a safe Labor seat.

2010 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Joel FitzgibbonALP44,15954.31-5.28
Michael JohnsenNAT25,24531.05+3.83
Chris ParkerGRN7,2518.92+2.60
Jennifer LeayrON2,7213.35+3.35
Wayne RileyCDP1,9382.38+0.34

2010 two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Joel FitzgibbonALP50,80362.48-3.20
Michael JohnsenNAT30,51137.52+3.20
Polling places in Hunter at the 2010 federal election. Cessnock in yellow, Maitland in blue, Mid-Western in red, Muswellbrook in purple, Singleton in green, Upper Hunter in orange. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Hunter at the 2010 federal election. Cessnock in yellow, Maitland in blue, Mid-Western in red, Muswellbrook in purple, Singleton in green, Upper Hunter in orange. Click to enlarge.

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into six areas, along the boundaries of the six local government areas that overlap with Hunter. A majority of the population live in the Cessnock and Maitland local government areas.

The ALP won a majority in five of the six areas, varying from 57.1% in Singleton to 69.5% in Cessnock. The Nationals won a 55.9% in Upper Hunter.

Voter groupGRN %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Cessnock10.7269.5023,64929.08
Maitland9.3763.2315,44919.00
Singleton7.1057.108,14510.02
Upper Hunter5.3744.146,6638.19
Muswellbrook6.4559.805,4736.73
Mid-Western7.4163.151,4301.76
Other votes9.1462.5720,50525.22
Two-party-preferred votes in Hunter at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Hunter at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in parts of Hunter around Cessnock and Maitland at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in parts of Hunter around Cessnock and Maitland at the 2010 federal election.

18 COMMENTS

  1. John Black, whose analysis I respect greatly, has this down as a possible Katter gain. DB or anyone have any thoughts?

  2. In 1998, One Nation got 11% here, so there’s opportunity for a right-wing minor party to do well, but I would be surprised if a Katter candidate got any more than a third of the vote of either the Nats or Labor. Cessnock + Maitland: This should be a safe Labor hold.

  3. That’s what I thought. I have Herbert as the best Katter chance to win (as I stated in the Herbert thread) but John Black is usually pretty good at picking seats.

  4. PJ, the LNP have held Cessnock, Upper Hunter and Maitland in recent years at state level. Hunter can be winnable for the Nationals, and I imagine this being the best KAP district out of Queensland.

  5. There are four Hunter/Newcastle seats. They are all on margins of about 13%. I’ve seen some small polling over the four seats which shows some substantial swings against the Government. It would not surprise me if one of them fell. The swings here are higher than the Central Coast.

    Queensland Observer – KAP gain. Impossible outside of QLD, but 6% or so from him would probably be preferenced to the Libs/Nats.

  6. Perhaps the rumour is garbled, and he is really just waiting to whether who will lead Labor after the final sitting weeks.

  7. This election also offers people the choice of the Palmer United Party, with local girl, Jennifer Stefanac. Hopefully people will realise that making the seat marginal, will bring more focus on Hunter. Jennifer deserves support, and would do a great job.

  8. Driving all around the Hunter, I am amazed at the number of signs for the Nat. With Joel having such a strong base, why would the NAT put so much effort into the seat? Do they think the people have all grown intelligence since the last election?

    I also heard that Joel may have resigned if a Julia had stayed as PM. Not sure what he would have done, he is a career politician.

  9. I recon its the nats overspending when they thought the seat was in play. Same scenario in Blaxland in Chifley, they have heaps of posters which were purchased when the seats were in play

  10. The Singleton detention centre Labor announced will be a big turn off in the election. I expect a big Nats swing but not sure if it will be enough to topple Joel. Worth putting some money on at $3+ though

  11. Rockman, try to avoid thinking of people who disagree with you as stupid or lesser than you. I am of course referring to “Do they think the people have all grown intelligence since the last election?”

  12. Glen, I do try to avoid it. But living in this area for over 20 years, has taught me that some people deserve the politicians they elect. But your point is taken.
    The camp is a point – the publics knee jerk reaction to labours kneejerk reaction. It was always a possibility, just not spoken about.

    Cheers

  13. Joel suffered a huge swing, and got through on preferences. All despite an enormous effort from the Nats (8 people handing out HTV cards at one booth).
    Hopefully it will give Joel enough of a shock that he will put in some effort.

    Oh, handing out HTV cards was an experience. Some people are so rude!
    One of the Labor guys did comment, “this is the first time we had to really campaign”.

  14. It’s worth noting that the swing here seemed to be amplified in more rural booths, suggesting that the swing here was merely a correction of Labor’s atypically high margin in Hunter.

  15. Yes, part of the overall swing also hit this electorate. In addition, the Nationals really thought that with the local issues (downturn in the mining industry, detention camps, lack of federal resources being available, and Joel’s lack of interest, due to the safe nature of the seat), that they had a chance to make real inroads into his share of the vote.

    This area has a high working class population, on high mining incomes (commonly known as Cashed Up Bogans). On an income level you would expect them to be right wing, but their family history and union leadership tells them to vote Labor. With the primary vote dropping, maybe there is hope that this seat will slowly become marginal (maybe in a few election cycles).

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