Macarthur – Australia 2019

ALP 8.3%

Incumbent MP
Mike Freelander, since 2016.

Macarthur covers most of the City of Campbelltown (except for Macquarie Fields and Glenfield) and a small part of Camden council area. The key suburbs are Campbelltown, Minto, Leumeah, Ingleburn, St Andrews, Raby, Bradbury, Ambarvale and Rosemeadow.

Macarthur was first created at the 1949 election, and has moved around southwestern Sydney, the southern highlands and the Illawarra over the last sixty years. The seat was a bellwether seat from 1949 until 2007, when the Liberals managed to hold on to the seat.

The seat was held from 1949 until 1972 by Jeff Bate of the Liberal Party, who became an independent in 1972 after losing preselection, before losing to the ALP’s John Kerin. Kerin held the seat until 1975. He later won the neighbouring seat of Werriwa in a 1978 by-election following the retirement of Gough Whitlam and served as a minister in the Hawke government, including a brief term as Treasurer following Paul Keating’s move to the backbench.

Michael Baume won the seat for the Liberal Party in 1975 and held the seat until the 1983 election, when he too was defeated. Baume returned to politics as a Senator following the 1984 election. He was defeated in 1983 by the ALP’s Colin Hollis, who transferred to the Illawarra seat of Throsby in 1984 following the expansion of the House of Representatives.

Hollis was succeeded in 1984 by Stephen Martin, who transferred to the seat of Cunningham in 1993 following a redistribution which presumably shifted Macarthur out of the Illawarra, which is now covered by Cunningham and Throsby. Martin went on to serve as Speaker during the final term of the Keating government and his 2002 retirement triggered the Cunningham by-election, which was won by the Greens. Chris Haviland held the seat for one term before he was defeated for Labor preselection in 1996 and retirement.

The new Labor candidate was defeated by former Liberal premier John Fahey, who had previously been the state member for Southern Highlands before his government was defeated in 1995. Fahey served as Finance Minister in the first two terms of the Howard government.

A 2001 redistribution saw Macarthur move out of the Southern Highlands and take in parts of southern Campbelltown, which had previously been included in Werriwa. This gave the ALP a notional majority in the seat, and the party nominated recurrent Mayor of Campbelltown Meg Oates. Fahey originally planned to transfer to the seat of Hume, which now covered his heartland territory around Bowral and Moss Vale, although he eventually retired at the 2001 election due to health problems.

The Liberal Party eventually preselected ultramarathon runner and charity fundraiser Pat Farmer, a personal favourite of John Howard, and he managed to win the seat with a swing to the Liberal Party. The 2004 election saw Farmer solidify his hold on the seat, holding the seat with a 9.5% margin.

Despite his margin increasing to over 11% thanks to a favourable redistribution, Pat Farmer barely held on in 2007.

The redistribution prior to the 2010 election made Macarthur a notional Labor seat. Farmer was defeated for Liberal preselection by former Campbelltown mayor Russell Matheson, who went on to retain the seat for the Liberal Party. Matheson was re-elected in 2013.

Another redistribution brought Macarthur into more Labor-friendly territory in 2016, and Matheson lost to Labor candidate Mike Freelander.


Macarthur, on its new boundaries, is a reasonably safe Labor seat.

2016 result

Mike Freelander Labor 46,65051.9+13.7
Russell Matheson Liberal 32,23535.9-9.8
James GentChristian Democratic Party3,8754.3+1.2
Ben Moroney Greens 3,8364.3+0.1
Richard Heltay BakossNick Xenophon Team3,3163.7+3.7

2016 two-party-preferred result

Mike Freelander Labor 52,44858.3+11.7
Russell Matheson Liberal 37,46441.7-11.7

Booth breakdown

Booths in Macarthur have been split into four parts. Most of the seat’s population is in the city of Campbelltown and this area has been split into north (including Minto, Ingleburn and St Andrews), central (including Airds, Campbelltown and Leumeah) and south (including Ambarvale, Bradbury and Rosemeadow). Those booths in the Camden council area, including Harrington Park and Leppington, have been grouped as west.

The ALP won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in three out of four areas, ranging from 61% in the south to 63.6% in the north. The Liberal Party won 55.8% in the west.

Voter groupALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes55.19,63410.7

Two-party-preferred votes in Macarthur at the 2016 federal election

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  1. NSW’s fastest growing seat with nearly 10,000 new voters to date since 2016. Probably more by the time the election is called. The ALP should hold the seat until the next distribution when all bets are off.

    To the north east Fowler, Parramatta, Banks, Blaxland and McMahon are all below quota with their variance increasing … expect much of the red areas could end up back in Werriwa.

    Suggest ALP enjoy it while it can.

  2. Sandbelter…. assume this needs to lose 10 to 15000 voters and the areas Minto to St Andrews are shifted into Werriwa…… then this seat is still safe labor and on quota……..(below Quota ?) ……… don’t see how more of Camden would be shifted in……. even if it was makes seat labour inclined still……… now what happens to Hume?

  3. Macarthur has long been a seat pushed and pulled with every redistribution. Speculation on what its shape will be after the next redistribution – which isn’t due until 2023 – is premature.


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