Robertson – Australia 2013

ALP 1.0%

Incumbent MP
Deborah O’Neill, since 2010.

Robertson covers the southern half of the Central Coast. It covers most of Gosford LGA, with the exception of a few suburbs on the border with Wyong LGA including Wamberal, Matcham, Holgate and Mt Elliot. Major centres in the electorate include Gosford, Erina, Terrigal, Woy Woy and Umina.

Robertson was first created in 1900 for the first federal election in 1901. The seat originally was an inland seat particularly covering Dubbo and Wellington and the Upper Hunter. It quickly moved towards the Central Coast, which it first covered in 1913.

The seat continued to shift and at one point also covered the coast to the north of Newcastle, before firmly settling on the Central Coast in 1974. The 1984 redistribution saw the seat take its current shape covering the southern half of the Central Coast.

For most of its history the seat was dominated by conservative MPs before mostly supporting the ALP over the last forty years. The seat was held by Henry Willis who won it for the Free Trade Party and maintained his hold until he lost it in 1910 to William Johnson of the ALP. Johnson only managed to hold the seat for one term, and was the only Labor member for the seat before the Second World War. He was succeeded by William Fleming of the Liberals, who proceeded to represent the Nationalists and joined the newly-formed Country Party in 1921. He ran for the seat as a Country Party candidate in 1922 and came third, with Sydney Gardner of the Nationalist Party holding the seat. Gardner maintained the seat until 1940, joining the United Australia Party in 1931.

At the 1940 election Gardner was one of two UAP candidates to run in Robertson, and came third on primary votes, and the other UAP candidate, Eric Spooner, won the seat on Gardner’s preferences in a close race with the ALP. Thomas Williams of the ALP won the seat in 1943 and held it until 1949, when he was defeated by the Liberal Party’s Roger Dean. Dean held the seat until he resigned in 1964 to become Administrator of the Northern Territory. His successor, William Bridges-Maxwell, won a by-election and was reelected in 1966 before being defeated by the ALP’s Barry Cohen in 1969.

Cohen held the seat for 21 years, serving as a minister from 1983 to 1987 in the Hawke government before retiring in 1990. He was succeeded by Frank Walker, who had been a minister in the state government before losing his seat in the 1988 state election. Walker served as a minister in the second Keating government from 1993 to 1996 before losing his seat to Jim Lloyd of the Liberal Party.

Lloyd held the seat for the entire length of the Howard government. He saw off Belinda Neal in 1998, when she resigned from the Senate to run for the seat. Lloyd was a minister from July 2004 until he lost his seat to Neal at the 2007 election. The seat was the ALP’s most marginal victory at the 2007 election, with Neal winning by 184 votes.

Belinda Neal was a controversial MP, and she lost preselection in 2010 to Deb O’Neill. O’Neill retained the seat for the ALP with an increased margin.


  • Jake Cassar (Independent)
  • Paul Sheeran (Democratic Labour Party)
  • Lucy Wicks (Liberal)
  • Steven Whitaker (Palmer United Party)
  • Holly Beecham (Christian Democratic Party)
  • Lawrie Mckinna (Independent)
  • Kate da Costa (Greens)
  • Douglas McFarland (Australian Independents)
  • Deborah O’Neill (Labor)

Robertson was one of the few seats in New South Wales where Labor gained ground in 2010. It’s difficult to see how either party wins in 2013 without winning Robertson, and it will be a key seat.

2010 result

Darren JamesonLIB37,15143.53-2.11
Deborah O’NeillALP33,93539.76-3.15
Peter FreewaterGRN7,6718.99+1.79
Graham FreemantleCDP1,5441.81-0.40
Melissa BattenIND1,5131.77+1.77
Jake CassarIND1,0771.26+1.26
Michael JakobFF7490.88+0.07
Nicole BeigerLDP5810.68+0.68
Don ParkesON5680.67-0.39
Michelle MearesIND5520.65+0.65

2010 two-candidate-preferred result

Deborah O’NeillALP43,52051.00+0.91
Darren JamesonLIB41,82149.00-0.91

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into four areas.

Most booths are in the eastern part of the seat near the coast, and these have been divided between the three main centres of Gosford, Erina and Woy Woy. The remainder of booths in the sparsely-populated west have been grouped together as “West”.

The ALP won a majority of the vote in Woy Woy and Gosford, while the Liberal Party won a majority in Erina and the West.

Polling booths in Robertson. Erina in yellow, Gosford in green, Woy Woy in blue, West in red.

Voter groupGRN %ALP 2PP%Total votes% of votes
Woy Woy9.0756.4120,52324.05
Other votes8.9048.4721,52125.22

Two-party-preferred votes in Robertson at the 2010 federal election.

About the Author

Ben Raue is the founder and author of the Tally Room.

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