Riverina – Australia 2019

NAT 16.4%

Incumbent MP
Michael McCormack, since 2010.

Geography
South-Western NSW. The seat stretches from Wagga Wagga and Lockhart in the south to Parkes and Forbes in the north, and also covers Cootamundra, Young, Cowra, Gundagai, Grenfell, Junee and Temora.

History
Riverina is an original federation electorate, although it was renamed as ‘Riverina-Darling’ from 1984 until 1993. It has been dominated by conservative parties, namely the Country/National Party since its emergence in the 1920s. Having said that, the ALP has managed to win the seat on a number of occasions, most recently in 1977.

The seat was first won in 1901 by Protectionist candidate John Chanter, who had been a member of the State Parliament since 1885. At the 1903 election, Free Trade candidate Robert Blackwood defeated Chanter by five votes. An appeal saw the result overturned, and Chanter won the ensuing by-election in 1904.

Chanter continued to serve as a Protectionist until 1909, when he refused to support the Fusion of conservative parties to form the Liberal Party, and instead joined the Labor Party. He managed to win reelection for the ALP in 1910, but lost his seat in 1913 to Liberal candidate Franc Falkiner. Chanter again managed to win the seat back in 1914, and Falkiner went on to serve one term as Member for Hume from 1917 to 1919.

Chanter left the ALP in 1916 over the issue of conscription and joined the new Nationalist Party. He held the seat for them until 1922, when he was defeated by William Killen, candidate for the new Country Party.

Killen held Riverina for the Country Party until his retirement in 1931, when he was succeeded by Horace Nock. Nock served as a Minister in the Menzies government in 1940, but lost his seat later that year to ALP candidate Joseph Langtry.

Langtry was re-elected in 1943 and 1946 before losing Riverina to the Country Party’s Hugh Roberton in 1949.

Roberton held Riverina for sixteen years. He was made Minister for Social Services in 1956, serving in that role until 1965, when he left Parliament to become Australia’s Ambassador to Ireland. The ensuing by-election was won by Adam Armstrong, who held the seat until 1969, when he lost to the ALP’s Al Grassby.

Grassby was appointed Minister for Immigration following the election of the Whitlam Labor government in 1972, and was a fierce advocate of multiculturalism in the role, however he failed to win reelection in 1974, losing Riverina to the Country Party’s John Sullivan.

Sullivan held Riverina for two terms, losing to the ALP’s John FitzPatrick in 1977. FitzPatrick lost in 1980 to the National Country Party’s Noel Hicks.

Hicks held Riverina for most of the next two decades. The seat was renamed Riverina-Darling in 1984 but reverted to its original name in 1993. Hicks retired in 1998, and the Nationals candidate Kay Hull retained the seat. Hull held the seat from 1998 until her retirement in 2010.

In 2010, Nationals candidate Michael McCormack. was elected. The Liberal Party challenged for the Nationals seat, but only managed 16.5% and failed to overtake the Labor candidate. McCormack was re-elected in 2013 and 2016, and became Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister in early 2018.

Candidates

  • Michael Bayles (Greens)
  • Michael McCormack (Nationals)

Assessment
Riverina is a safe Nationals seat.

2016 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Michael Mccormack Nationals 56,58157.2+15.4
Tim Kurylowicz Labor 25,24425.5+3.8
Richard FoleyIndependent6,0586.1+6.1
Kevin Poynter Greens 4,4444.5+0.8
Glenn O’RourkeFamily First3,3863.4+3.4
Philip LangfieldChristian Democratic Party3,2073.2+1.5
Informal4,7844.6

2016 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Michael Mccormack Nationals 65,71966.4-2.6
Tim Kurylowicz Labor 33,20133.6+2.6

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into four parts:

  • East – Cootamundra, Cowra, Gundagai, Harden, Weddin and Young council areas
  • North – Forbes and Parkes council areas
  • South – Lockhart and Wagga Wagga council areas
  • West – Bland, Coolamon, Junee and Temora council areas

The Nationals won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all four aras, ranging fro

Voter groupNAT 2PP %Total votes% of votes
South63.326,16026.4
East62.117,01317.2
West74.010,45410.6
North68.59,87710.0
Other votes68.58,6628.8
Pre-poll67.926,75427.0

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

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Riverina is really dumb name for this electorate, it should have been changed years ago. So Gundagai is a Labor town. Who’d have thought….

  2. Maybe the last Labor candidate was from Gundi? 22 and 24% swings to Labor in those two booths – must have come from somewhere…

  3. the council amalgamations shifted Gundagai from solid np to solid Alp….. this was repeated even more so in the Cootamundra byelection.

  4. Riverina used to contain…… the towns of the Murrumbidgee irrigation area…….then extend elsewhere……… either to Broken Hill or along the murray river. Farrrer used to be Wagga and Albury…….. ……. Hume used to be yass, cootamunda, young, Grenfell etc….. now again there are bits and pieces electorates which tend not to put big towns together…. and ignore communities of interest for the sake of mathematical precision

  5. Severe resistance to council mergers seems like the correct theory; the swing in Gundagai is similar to that in Tumbarumba.

    It might also be the legacy of the Sheahans who represented that area in state parliament until 1988. Labor used to do a lot better in regional NSW but outside the Hunter, now you just have a few scattered “Labor towns”.

  6. I seem to remember the Liberals proposing renaming this seat to Bradman a few years ago, which I thought was a reasonable proposal. I believe Labor has proposed it for the chopping block a few times as well. Certainly it would be good to see the name discontinued, and hopefully the Committee’s enthusiasm for removing geographical names (even Federation ones sometimes) in Victoria will be replicated at the next NSW redistribution as well, although obviously Werriwa is priority number one there.

  7. Pretty safe. Joe McGirr was very well known locally and actually got a lower primary vote in the byelection than he did in 2011. It’s harder for someone to get a local reputation across a federal electorate.

    I’m not ruling out a whole swag of Cathy McGowan types emerging across the country, but none of the campaigns would be easy.

    Also the fact that it was a Liberal and not a National running in Wagga Wagga makes a difference. Local nationals actually handed out for McGirr, just like they handed out for Cathy McGowan when she first ran.

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