Blue Mountains – NSW 2019

ALP 8.1%

Incumbent MP
Trish Doyle, since 2015.

Geography
Western fringe of Sydney. The seat of Blue Mountains almost exactly matches the boundaries of the Blue Mountains local government area, with the exception of a small part of the lower mountains included in the neighbouring district of Penrith.

History
The seat of Blue Mountains was first created in 1968. After being held by an independent for eight years, the seat was held by the party of government continuously from 1976 until 2015.

The seat was first won in 1968 by conservative independent Harold Coates. A Lithgow councillor for almost forty years, Coates had previously run as a Liberal candidate unsuccessfully, and had first run as an independent for the seat of Hartley in 1962, losing to the sitting Labor MP by 234 votes. Hartley covered Lithgow and the upper Blue Mountains. Coates won Hartley in 1965, and moved to Blue Mountains in 1965 when a redistribution saw the former seat of Hartley shift deeper into the mountains and change name.

Coates was re-elected in 1971 and 1973, before losing to the ALP’s Mick Clough in 1976 by a bare 236 votes. In Coates’ career, the Liberal Party never ran against him, and he was considered a supporter of the Liberal-Country coalition.

The 1980 redistribution shifted the boundaries of Blue Mountains, moving the town of Lithgow into the neighbouring seat of Bathurst. At the 1981 election, Clough defeated the sitting Country Party Member for Bathurst by 31 votes. Clough held Bathurst until 1988, and again from 1991 until his retirement in 1999.

Clough was succeeded in Blue Mountains in 1981 by Bob Debus. Debus joined the ministry in 1986, serving in that role until the 1988 election, when he lost his seat to the Liberal Party’s Barry Morris.

Morris was re-elected in 1991, but his second term in Parliament took a bizarre turn. Morris had a bad relationship with Blue Mountains City Council. In 1992, a bomb ripped through the council building, not killing anyone but doing significant damage to the building. A year later a phone call to the local newspaper threatened the life of a councillor who had regularly clashed with Morris. The tape of the phone call was passed on to the Labor opposition, which led to a campaign in the Parliament against Morris.

In 1994, Morris was charged with making threatening phone calls on a number of occasions. He resigned from Parliament and from the Liberal Party in late 1994.

In 1995, Bob Debus won back Blue Mountains. Morris ran as an independent, winning 16%. Debus served as a minister in the state Labor government until his retirement in 2007. Debus  was elected as federal member for Macquarie in 2007, serving as Minister for Home Affairs from 2007 to 2009. He retired from federal politics after one term in 2010.

Blue Mountains was won by Phil Koperberg, former commissioner of the Rural Fire Service and ALP candidate. Koperberg joined the Iemma government’s ministry in 2007. He was stood down in late 2007 due to allegations of domestic violence against his former wife. The charges were dismissed, but he stepped down from the ministry in early 2008.

Phil Koperberg retired at the 2011 election, and Liberal candidate Roza Sage won Blue Mountains. Sage lost in 2015 to Labor candidate Trish Doyle.

Candidates

Assessment
Blue Mountains is a reasonably safe Labor seat.

2015 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Trish Doyle Labor 19,99541.2+18.7
Roza Sage Liberal 17,24135.5-4.1
Alandra Tasire Greens 7,88816.2-0.7
Tony PiperChristian Democrats1,5073.1-1.1
Mark HarrisonIndependent1,4703.0+3.0
Gianna MaioranaNo Land Tax4500.9+0.9
Informal1,2522.5

2015 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Trish Doyle Labor 25,86658.1+13.5
Roza Sage Liberal 18,61641.9-13.5

Booth breakdown

Booths in Blue Mountains were split into five areas. The two largest towns of Springwood (including Winmalee) and Katoomba (including Leura) were grouped together. Booths between those two towns were grouped as “Mid Mountains” with the remainder split into “Lower Mountains” and “Upper Mountains”.

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in four out of five areas, ranging from 53.2% in Springwood to 68.9% in Katoomba. The Liberal Party polled 50.8% in the lower mountains.

The Greens primary vote ranged from 12.5% in the lower mountains to 24.5% in Katoomba.

Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Springwood12.553.29,39919.4
Mid-Mountains17.864.87,05814.5
Lower Mountains12.549.26,81414.0
Katoomba24.568.95,25610.8
Upper Mountains23.364.42,9936.2
Other votes17.055.77,86316.2
Pre-poll13.958.89,16818.9

Election results in Blue Mountains at the 2015 NSW state election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and Greens primary votes.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. This area seems to have firmed up for Labor at both state and federal level. An 8% margin is pretty big, in what was an overall solid Liberal win last time.

    Macquarie saw underwhelming Lib wins in 2010 and 2013, then was a Labor gain with a big swing in 2016. Whereas in 1998 (basically the closest equivalent of 2016), the Liberals held it quite comfortably.

  2. In the current climate it looks like he won’t. But if the election became a bit more competitive this should be one of the top Liberal targets. Although the Blue Mountains (similar to Monbulk in Victoria) is trending Labor, I suspect at least some of this result could have been due to Louise Markus, who it should not be forgotten, was originally the member for the Hills/Blacktown seat of Greenway and I suspect never really gelled with the Mountains.

  3. Mark Mulcair,
    Blue Mountains voter here, I’d like to add some context to what you call an “overall solid Liberal win” in 2011. In that election, there was a prominent Independent on the ballot and she and the Greens both recommended exhausted ballots, which most of their voters followed. So looking at the bare two candidate preferred will give an inflated impression of how much Liberal support there really is (and this is not even taking into account the statewide landslide to the Liberals in 2011).

    I believe the Blue Mountains became a moderate-to-solid Labor seat sometime during the Carr years and it was only the long Labor government followed by the decisive Liberal victory in 2011 which made it appear to still be a bellwether since then. It’s not a recent change, is what I’m saying.

  4. population changes are helping labor, plus Trish Doyle is very passionate and competent plus there will be a swing to labor in 2019 expect better than 60/40 margin

  5. I agree with Mick. Trish has really hammered home the issues with the train sets and timetabling, and has been a good local representative. She’s going to get a bounce on the back of her first term. The Liberal party out this way seems to run mainly to christian conservatives and the latest candidate is no exception. Nothing in his CV that represents a new direction, and he will take his orders from party central – so even if he’s protective of the Mountains’ heritage, that won’t matter if the caucus is pro-development.
    Greens – Kingsley Liu – another new name. They had Alandra Tasire in 2015, Kerrin O’Grady in 2011, Pippa McInnes before then. Perhaps they should try to consolidate, bring forward a candidate who can last more than one election. Just a thought.

  6. “History
    The seat of Blue Mountains was first created in 1968. After being held by an independent for eight years, the seat has been held by the party of government continuously since 1976.” This was true until the last election when Labor’s Doyle won the seat and the party of government was and is the LNP. Of course, this may well change in March.

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