Clarence – NSW 2019

NAT 9.7%

Incumbent MP
Chris Gulaptis, since 2011.

North coast of NSW. The seat covers all of Clarence Valley and Richmond Valley local government areas. The main centres of the town are Grafton, Yamba, Macle`an and Casino.

The district of Clarence has existed since 1859, with the exception of three elections in the 1920s. The seat has been dominated by the Country/National Party since 1927. The seat has been won by the Labor Party at the 1981 and 1999 elections and at the 1996 by-election, the only occasions when another party won the seat.

The seat was won in 1938 by Cecil Wingfield of the Country Party. He defeated the sitting Country Party MP, Alfred Henry. At the time, the Country Party allowed multiple candidates to contest the same seat. He held the seat until his death in 1955.

The 1955 by-election was won by former Grafton mayor Bill Weiley, also of the Country Party. He held the seat until he retired at the 1971 election.

At the 1971 election, the Country Party’s Matt Singleton won Clarence. In 1981, the redistribution created the new seat of Coffs Harbour and made Clarence a notional Labor seat. Singleton shifted to the new seat of Coffs Harbour, which he held until his retirement in 1990. He served as a minister in the Greiner government from 1988 to 1989.

The 1981 redistribution also abolished the Labor seat of Casino, which had existed for ten years. It had been won by the first time in 1971 by the ALP’s Don Day. Day became a minister when the ALP won power in 1976, and in 1981 moved to the seat of Clarence. He retired at the 1984 election.

Clarence was won back in 1984 by the National Party’s Ian Causley. He served as a minister in the Coalition government from 1988 to 1995. In 1996, he resigned from Clarence to contest the federal Labor seat of Page. He held that federal seat until his retirement in 2007.

In 1996, Causley defeated the sitting Labor Member for Page, Harry Woods. Woods, newly out of work, contested Causley’s vacated seat of Clarence and the ensuing by-election, and won the seat. He became a minister in the Labor government in 1997, and served in that role until his retirement in 2003.

Clarence was won in 2003 by the National Party’s Steve Cansdell, and he was re-elected in 2007 and 2011.

Less than six months after winning a third term, Cansdell resigned in September 2011 after making a false declaration in relation to a traffic offence. The subsequent by-election, the first of seven in the parliamentary term, saw Nationals candidate Chris Gulaptis easily elected. Gulaptis was re-elected in 2015.


  • Steve Cansdell (Shooters, Fishers & Farmers)
  • Greg Clancy (Greens)
  • Trent Gilbert (Labor)

Clarence is a reasonably safe Nationals seat.

2015 result

Chris Gulaptis Nationals 23,79950.4-13.0
Trent Gilbert Labor 13,43128.5+18.5
Janet Cavanaugh Greens 4,3089.1+2.4
Debrah NovakIndependent2,2024.7+4.7
Carol OrdishChristian Democrats1,1432.4+0.6
Bryan RobinsIndependent1,0412.2+2.2
Christine RobinsonIndependent8331.8+1.8
Joe LopreiatoNo Land Tax4270.9+0.9

2015 two-party-preferred result

Chris Gulaptis Nationals 25,08259.7-22.2
Trent Gilbert Labor 16,94740.3+22.2

Booth breakdown

Booths in Clarence have been divided into five areas. Those booths in the two main towns of Grafton and Casino have been grouped together. Those booths to the north-east of Grafton along the Clarence river, including those in Maclean and Yamba, have been grouped as “Clarence River”.

The remaining booths have been split into “north” and “south”. At the by-election, there were no rural booths north of Casino, but the redistribution added a number of booths in this area to the “north” grouping.

The Nationals won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all five areas, ranging from 54.1% in Casino to 63.5% in the centre.

Voter groupNAT 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes58.86,58013.9

Two-party-preferred votes in Penrith at the 2015 NSW state election

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  1. Shooters will take a chunk off the Nats that won’t return as preferences, and both Labor and Greens will be building their profile in the area due to the overlap with the seat of Page. More marginal than it looks.

  2. Labor will take this seat if they are set to get a Majority goverment, Theoretically they will need this seat

  3. if difficult to win without a alp candidate with a personal vote…. If Janelle had run here she may have won but she is contesting Lismore

  4. One of the key contests for the election imo. I can see SFFP handing this seat to Labor, who may win from a primary vote in the high 20s.

    The nats primary vote will tank.


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