Cowper – Australia 2019

NAT 4.6% vs IND

Incumbent MP
Luke Hartsuyker, since 2001.

Geography
Cowper lies on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, stretching from Port Macquarie to Coffs Habrour. The seat covers the towns of Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, South West Rocks, Nambucca Heads, Bellingen and Kempsey.

History
Cowper was an original federation seat, and has almost always been held by conservative parties, with the Country/National Party holding it for all but two years since 1919.

The seat was first held by Francis Clarke of the Protectionist Party, who was defeated by Free Trader Henry Lee in 1903. Lee was defeated by John Thomson in 1906. Thomson first held the seat for the Protectionist Party and held the seat for successive non-Labor parties for the next 13 years.

In 1919, Thomson, then representing the Nationalists, was defeated by Earle Page, who joined the Country Party the next year. Page held the seat for over 40 years.

Page became Country Party leader in 1921 and led the party into government for the first time in 1922, forcing the senior Nationalists to drop Billy Hughes as Prime Minister. He served as Treasurer in the Bruce government until 1929. He also served as a minister in the second and third terms of the Lyons government, and served as acting Prime Minister for three weeks upon Lyons’ death.

Page refused to serve in a government led by Lyons’ deputy Robert Menzies, but the Country Party rebelled and replaced Page with a new leader. Page returned to government in 1940 as a minister, and again served as a minister from 1949 to 1956. Page continued to serve in Parliament until the 1961 election. At that election, he was too ill to campaign and fell into a coma before the election. In a surprise upset, Page was defeat by the ALP’s Frank McGuren, and he died days later.

McGuren only held the seat for one term, which was the only term the ALP has ever held Cowper. He was defeated in 1963 by the Country Party’s Ian Robinson. Robinson transferred to the new seat of Page in 1984, and Garry Nehl won Cowper for the Nationals.

Nehl retired in 2001, and was succeeded by Luke Hartsuyker. Hartsuyker has held the seat ever since.

A redistribution shifted the seat south at the 2016 election, and former independent MP Rob Oakeshott, who previously represented Lyne to the south, contested Cowper and came within 5% of defeating Hartsuyker.

Candidates

  • Rob Oakeshott (Independent)

Assessment
This seat is normally considered reasonably safe, but Rob Oakeshott’s last-minute candidacy (announced shortly before nominations closed) was enough to cut Hartsuyker’s margin to less than 5%. If Oakeshott was to announce a more serious candidacy it’s conceivable he could seriously threaten the Nationals. If he doesn’t run, the Nationals should retain this seat comfortably.

2016 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Luke Hartsuyker Nationals 47,55946.0-8.1
Rob OakeshottIndependent27,20026.3+26.3
Damian Wood Labor 14,07913.6-10.0
Carol Vernon Greens 6,9016.7-3.9
Wayne LawrenceChristian Democratic Party3,5383.4+1.0
John ArkanIndependent3,4573.3+3.3
Michael GoughCitizens Electoral Council7260.7+0.6
Informal5,6135.1

2016 two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%
Luke Hartsuyker Nationals 56,44354.6
Rob OakeshottIndependent47,01745.4

2016 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Luke Hartsuyker Nationals 64,74362.6-0.7
Damian Wood Labor 38,71737.4+0.7

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided between the five local government areas: Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Nambucca and Port Macquarie.

The Nationals won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote (in opposition to Oakeshott) in four out of five areas, ranging from 52.6% in Port Macquarie-Hastings to 58.4% in Kempsey. Oakeshott polled 56.1% in Bellingen.

The Labor primary vote ranged from 9.3% in Port Macquarie-Hastings to 18.6% in Kempsey.

Voter groupALP prim %NAT 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Coffs Harbour13.455.220,41319.7
Port Macquarie-Hastings9.352.618,25517.6
Kempsey18.658.411,27810.9
Nambucca17.756.57,9627.7
Bellingen11.343.96,6056.4
Other votes15.753.99,5309.2
Pre-poll13.255.929,41728.4

Election results in Cowper at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Nationals vs Oakeshott) and Labor primary votes.


Become a Patron!

About the Author

Ben Raue is the founder and author of the Tally Room.If you like this post, please consider donating to support the Tally Room.