Wollondilly – NSW 2019

LIB 17.3%

Incumbent MP
Jai Rowell, since 2011.

Wollondilly covers most of Wollondilly Shire, as well as northern parts of the Southern Highlands. Wollondilly particularly covers Appin, Bargo, Bowral, Douglas Park, Hill Top, Mittagong, Nattai, Picton, Wilton and Yerrinbool.

The current electoral district was only created for the most recent election in 2007. A previous electoral district with the name of Wollondilly existed from 1904 to 1981.

The seat existed from 1904 to 1981 covering areas between Campbelltown and Bowral, varying at each redistribution. From 1920 to 1925 the district expanded to be a three-member district elected proportionally. This district, while named Wollondilly, it stretched to the coast, covering Wollongong and surrounding areas.

From 1904 to 1978, the single-member district of Wollondilly was always won by the main conservative party, eventually becoming the Liberal Party.

The seat was won in 1957 by the Liberal Party’s Tom Lewis. He became a minister when the Coalition won power in 1965 led by Robert Askin. Lewis became Premier in early 1975 following Askin’s retirement. He only lasted a year, and was replaced in January 1976 by Eric Willis. The Liberals lost power at the 1976 election, and Lewis retired in 1978.

Wollondilly was gained by the ALP’s Bill Knott in 1978. In 1981, Wollondilly was abolished, with much of the seat’s territory forming part of the new seat of Camden. Knott moved to the new seat of Kiama, and held it until his retirement in 1986.

The seat of Wollondilly was restored as part of the redistribution before the 2007 election as a marginal Labor seat with a 4.6% margin, out of pieces of Camden, a marginal Labor seat, and Southern Highlands, a safer Liberal seat.

The seat was won in 2007 by ALP candidate Phil Costa. Costa was the Mayor of Wollondilly Shire, who had been elected to council as an independent with no links to either major party. He originally threatened to stand as an independent if either party preselected a candidate from the Campbelltown part of the seat, but was persuaded to stand for the ALP. Following his preselection announcement Wollondilly Council passed a motion of no confidence, but he refused to resign, and won the seat with a swing of only 1.3% against the ALP.

In 2011, Costa lost to Liberal candidate Jai Rowell, a councillor in the City of Campbelltown. Rowell was re-elected in 2015.


Wollondilly was won by Labor as recently as 2007, but has now become a safe Liberal seat.

2015 result

Jai Rowell Liberal 27,34558.0+2.1
Ciaran O’Brien Labor 11,42924.2+5.3
Patrick Darley-Jones Greens 3,9578.4+1.1
Lynette StylesIndependent1,8213.9+3.9
Susan PinsutiChristian Democrats1,5593.3-0.2
Maria FoiaNo Land Tax1,0732.3+2.3

2015 two-party-preferred result

Jai Rowell Liberal 28,79567.3-4.3
Ciaran O’Brien Labor 13,99432.7+4.3

Booth breakdown

Booths in Wollondilly have been split into three parts. Polling places in Wollondilly Shire were split into “Central” and “North”, while those in Wingecarribee Shire were grouped as “South”. All those booths in the south were previously contained in the seat of Goulburn, while all of those in the centre and north were contained in Wollondilly.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 65.4% in the south to 72% in the north.

Voter groupLIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes66.58,75318.6

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

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  1. Wollondilly ceased to be even theoretically competitive when the last redistribution excised its suburban areas and replaced it with the northern half of the southern highlands; duly adding seven points to the Liberal margin.

    Interesting that Phil Costa is now the Labor candidate for Lyne.

  2. While probably not enough to flip the seat, there is white hot anger within the electorate that blow-in Nathaniel Smith (son of former Attorney-General and member for Epping, Greg Smith) has tried his luck here and won preselection while being a resident of Sans Souci. Smith was also a lobbyist for property developers and a staffer for the Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts. Overdevelopment is a huge issue here and the choice of Smith will irk many in the Highlands and Wollondilly Shire. Expect a bigger than normal swing against him here (especially in the Wingecaribee part) but not enough for him to lose the seat but, if it was ever to fall, Judy Hannan who has drawn first spot on the ballot, would be the winner and not Smith.

  3. Could be IND gain, But there has been no seat polls here, Hannan would have to rely on Labor and Green preferences, And even get One nation ones if she has a chance of getting this, I expect this seat will be like Benambra in Victoria where it wont be called for days after the election, And especially if a Hung happens we won’t have any idea who will form government. A conservative white bloke replacing a retiring sitting member will certainly put this on a knife edge from its relatively safe margin

  4. I think this seat is going to be far more competitive than it appears on paper, and i’d say its a 50/50 split that it could go IND, with popular former Mayor Judy Hannan running against a liberal candidate (Nathaniel Smith) with no connections to the area. Every other candidate including Labor is directing preferences to Hannan before the Liberal candidate, and every one of the minor parties are preferencing her before a major party, so if Liberal don’t get across the line on first preferences they will likely be in trouble.

    The Libs did get 58% primary last election but that was with a popular incumbent, and the new liberal candidate not only doesn’t have links to the area but also has strong links to developers. Over development and a lack of infrastructure to support the growth that has already happened are huge issues in the seat, and having a developer linked candidate “parachuted” in has certainly caused a lot of disquiet within the area, and I’d be very surprised if it didn’t result in a decent primary vote hit for the liberals.

    The other thing at play with Wollondilly is that even though it sometimes gets lumped in with Sydney it still has a strong regional flavour, and most of the people would self identify as living in a regional area rather than part of Sydney, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see it play out in ways many of the regional seats are where the coalition is challenged by a strong independent. Antony Green has actually identified Wollondilly as a key seat over on his coverage at the ABC, and I suspect it is largely because of this.

  5. Totally agree 2bob. Mrs McMad’s aunt lives here. Liberal to the core, and most put out that her and the golf widow crowd haven’t been schmoozed by Smith. She is going to vote for Hannan because she’s a “lovely lady”, despite Auntie’s misgivings about women being in politics and her worry that Hannan is a communist. You can’t make Bowral stuff up. It’s a way of life.

    Smith will probably hang on, but not if, as you say, One Nation are directing preferences to Hannan. Anyone seen their HTV?

  6. John,
    Everyone is preferencing Hannan, and doing so before the Libs. One nation is preferencing shooters first and then Hannan.

  7. The Liberals have started Robocalling in this electorate, which according to the news coverage is something g they are only doing in electorates they are worried about holding. Would love to know what their internal polling is telling them…

  8. I would not think that robocalls will do much to help them as political parties allowed to call people who are on the Do Not Call register. Still think that Smith will scrape through but for the fact that he was chosen in the first place, the robocalls and Antony Green has placed it on his seats to watch list will make it an interesting contest.

  9. lib poor candidate choice…… puts this seat in danger but not to alp.. maybe to independant

  10. If you vote for Judith Hannan… you get a Local Independent.

    If you vote for Smith…you get a former a former lobbyist for developers from San Souci.

  11. Judy Hannan red hot in this seat. Big anti-development sentiment after the state govt took over local planning through Wilton/Appin etc. Lib candidate a blow in & a bit of a smell of nepotism to boot.

    Hannan is a very engaged local Mayor and is absolutely capable of overcoming the big margin with preferences from all other candidates.


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