Murray – NSW 2019

NAT 22.7% vs IND

Incumbent MP
Austin Evans, since 2017.

Geography
South-western NSW. The seat of Murray borders Victoria and South Australia, and includes the towns of Griffith, Leeton, Deniliquin and Wentworth. It covers the entirety of Wentworth, Balranald, Hay, Carrathool, Griffith, Leeton, Edward River, Murray River and Berrigan local government areas, and parts of the Murrumbidgee council area.

History
Murray existed as a seat in the NSW Legislative Assembly from 1859 to 1999, when it was renamed Murray-Darling after expanding to cover Broken Hill. In 2015 the seat will be restored to its new name after Broken Hill was transferred out of the seat. The seat has also taken in parts of the abolished seat of Murrumbidgee.

Murray had been dominated by the Country/National Party since 1932, when it had been won by Joe Lawson. He lost Country Party preselection 35 years later in 1967, and was re-elected as an independent in 1968. He held the seat as an independent until his death in 1973.

The following by-election was won by Lawson’s daughter Mary Meillon, who had run as a Liberal. She held the seat until her death in 1980.

The 1980 Murray by-election was won by National Country Party candidate Tim Fischer. He had held the safe Country Party seat of Sturt (a different seat with very different borders to the older Labor seat of the same name) since 1971. Sturt was set to be abolished at the 1981 election, and Fischer resigned his seat early to contest Murray.

Fischer resigned from Sturt in 1984 to contest the federal seat of Farrer. He won the seat and held it until his retirement in 2001. He became leader of the federal National Party in 1990, serving in that role until 1999. He was Deputy Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999.

Jim Small won Sturt at the 1984 by-election for the National Party. He held it until 1999.

When Murray and Broken Hill were merged, the new seat of Murray-Darling had a notional majority for the Nationals. Both sitting MPs retired, and the seat was won by the ALP’s Peter Black.

Black was re-elected in 2003, and developed a reputation as a controversial Labor MP. In 2007, a redistribution made the seat again a notional Nationals seat, and Black was defeated by Nationals candidate John Williams.

The seat of Murrumbidgee was dominated by the ALP in the middle part of the last century, but has been held by the National Party since 1984.

In 1941, the sitting Country Party MP, Robert Hankinson, retired. The official Labor candidate was defeated by independent Labor candidate George Enticknap, who was then welcomed into the Labor caucus in the Parliament. He served as a minister from 1960 to 1965, when he retired.

Al Grassby won Murrumbidgee for the Labor Party at the 1965 election. He resigned from the seat in 1969 to take the federal seat of Riverina. He served as Minister for Immigration from 1972 to 1974, when he lost Riverina.

Lin Gordon won the 1970 Murrumbidgee by-election for the ALP. He served as a minister from 1976 until his retirement in 1984.

In 1984, Murrumbidgee was won by the National Party’s Adrian Cruickshank. He came third on primary votes, but preferences from the Liberal Party pushed him ahead of independent candidate Thomas Marriott. Marriott’s preferences elected Cruickshank over the Labor Party. He held the seat until his retirement in 1999.

Murrumbidgee was held by the National Party’s Adrian Piccoli from 1999 until its abolition in 2015. He served as deputy leader of the NSW National Party from 2008 from 2016, and served as minister for education from 2011 until 2017.

Piccoli shifted to Murray in 2015, and held it until his retirement in 2017. The 2017 by-election was won by Nationals candidate Austin Evans.

Candidates

Assessment
Murray is normally a safe Nationals seat. The Shooters came close to winning the 2017 by-election. It’s possible the Shooters could prove a threat in 2019, but the unique circumstances of a by-election may have been their best shot.

2015 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Adrian Piccoli Nationals 25,75255.5-22.3
Helen DaltonIndependent8,44018.2+18.2
Max Buljubasic Labor 7,50916.2-1.3
Brian MillsIndependent1,7453.8+3.8
Jordanna Glassman Greens 1,0352.2-1.1
Garry CodemoNo Land Tax9292.0+2.0
David ElderChristian Democrats6511.4FALSE
Atul MisraIndependent3370.7+0.7
Informal1,8013.7

2015 two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Adrian Piccoli Nationals 27,50472.7-8.3
Helen DaltonIndependent10,35327.3+27.3

2015 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Adrian Piccoli Nationals 28,29575.2-5.7
Max Buljubasic Labor 9,32924.8+5.7

2017 by-election result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Austin Evans Nationals 18,54840.7-14.8
Helen DaltonShooters, Fishers & Farmers14,33231.5+31.5
Michael Kidd Labor 9,32420.5+4.3
Brian MillsIndependent1,3633.0-0.8
Peter RobinsonIndependent1,0722.4+2.4
Ray Goodlass Greens 9122.0-0.2
Informal1,4663.1

2017 by-election two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%
Austin Evans Nationals 21,23753.3
Helen DaltonShooters, Fishers & Farmers18,57046.7

Booth breakdown

Booths in Murray have been split into five parts. The most populous centre of the electorate is the two council areas of Griffith and Leeton, so these have been grouped together as “Griffith-Leeton”.

The south-eastern town of Deniliquin has also been grouped together, and the remaining booths have been split into north-east, north-west (including Wellington) and south.

At the 2015 election, the Nationals won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote against independent candidate Helen Dalton in all five areas, ranging from 59.8% in Griffith-Leeton to 86.1% in the south. The Labor primary vote ranged from 15.3% in the south to 19.5% in the north-east.

At the 2017 by-election, the Nationals won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in four out of five areas, ranging from 52.4% in Griffith-Leeton to 58% in the north-east. Shooters candidate Helen Dalton won 60.1% of the two-candidate-preferred vote in Deniliquin. The Labor primary vote ranged from 14.6% in Deniliquin to 26.8% in Griffith-Leeton.

2015 booth breakdown

Voter groupALP prim %NAT 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Griffith-Leeton15.759.813,85329.9
South15.386.18,51818.4
Deniliquin19.379.03,6567.9
North-East19.573.03,5537.7
North-West17.981.53,2136.9
Other votes14.779.86,36413.7
Pre-poll15.568.17,24115.6

2017 by-election booth breakdown

Voter groupALP prim %NAT 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Griffith-Leeton26.852.411,88226.1
South15.055.37,79117.1
North-East18.958.03,2787.2
North-West16.055.43,0176.6
Deniliquin14.639.92,2845.0
Other votes16.459.84,59610.1
Pre-poll21.951.412,70327.9

Election results in Murray at the 2015 NSW state election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Nationals vs independent) and Labor primary votes.

Election results at the 2017 Murray by-election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Nationals vs Shooters) and Labor primary votes.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. The dark horse will be the dynamics One Nation candidate Tom Weyrich.
    I am standing as an independent and Helen Dalton has not been prepared to email me in over 4 months.
    This is what will be discussed at the Moama forum if I get my druthers:
    Hi Austin and Helen,
    This could be an alternative to ineffective ‘Meet the Candidates’ formats which I believe helps the two major parties to retain control ‘for ever.’
    Six years ago three ex Griffith High School (GHS) students started research.
    Griffith grew strongly for 93 years and is now in the doldrums
    We knew we had to go political. I drew the short straw and stood three times as an independent.
    In 1948 GHS was strong on debating and Peter Katsoolis was a key member of the team which won the Millthorpe Shield.
    In not one election was debate allowed so an amended and constructive format is being tried
    Neither Austin Evans nor Sussan Ley has ever accepted debate. Helen Dalton has not been prepared to communicate in more than four months.
    Here are three crucial water policies which I will get published and also email to each of you.
    At the Moama forum I want ask for responses from Austin and Helen. If they not respond and if the moderator accepts that they do not have to answer then leaflets will be distributed widely.
    Sussan Ley will move into the fray when the first Federal forum in Farrer for 2019 is held.
    First I have a policy with a crib note of ‘Cost of Water.’
    I have a book with the subheading of ‘How Free Trade in Water will Cripple Australian agriculture.’ Many felt that the separation of water from land is irreversible and that due to opportunist water traders my contacts say that if it is not too late it soon will be too late.

    The authors claim that it can be reversed. They claim that it must be reversed and then they describe ways in which it can be done. My favourite is:

    ‘Governments must ensure that the water markets for agriculture, urban, industrial and environmental uses remain separate markets, with separate prices based on delivery costs.’

    It is my contention that the MIA (Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area) can lead the way.

    When my maternal grandparents moved from Broken Hill to Griffith it was to be able to farm on some of the most secure and cheapest water in the world. Those who designed the MIA saw Burrunjuck Dam as a safe water source. They kept costs down by using the Murrumbidgee River until Berembed Weir near Narrandera. From there they fed canals, channels and ditches to every farm.

    Their contention is that cost of water to the MIA is still the same so that the only difference in cost should relate to changes in the value of money. Who can agree to this? Those who do not, what is their reason?

    If this can be the starting point for agricultural costing, then urban costs should be based on the cost of getting water to their community. For those near the ocean there should be studies of as much use as possible of desalinisation. Perhaps those costs should decrease as the number of plants increase.

    As a former construction engineer budgets always included water and some projects did not proceed if water was too costly.

    Environmental sub projects should take into account realistic costs.

    The second policy has a crib note ‘Darling River.’ The policy is that the Darling is dry due to drought and huge over extraction of water licenses above the Lower Darling. NO PUMP above the Lower Darling to operate unless there is sufficient downstream water flow.

    The third policy has a crib note of ‘Yanco Creek.’ It is still a work in progress.
    Many farmers are concerned about the monopoly organisation Murrumbidgee Irrigation. They would like an immediate halt on new expansion canals. They also want to expose and then halt the pressure being applied to small farmers at the expense of the big end of town.
    There is no ombudsman, no irrigation regulator or no government department that MI must answer to when it comes to dealing with its shareholders . They now refer to farmers as customers rather than shareholders.
    MI procedures for handling of new contracts seem to be heavy handed.
    Also on the Murrumbidgee there are concerns about Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) Projects listed for the Yanco Creek.
    There are earthmoving abnormalities at Koobah Station.
    Brigagee Station has turkey nests 3 metres deep
    Berembed Station has interfered with Gum Creek. They have formed levee banks to capture flood plains
    What is happening is bordering on being criminal. Many disagree and classify it as being criminal now.

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