Pat Farmer rolled by Matheson in Macarthur


Former Mayor of Campbelltown Russell Matheson has defeated sitting Liberal MP Pat Farmer in preselection for the seat of Macarthur. Farmer has become the first federal Liberal MP to be defeated for preselection in five years, since Malcolm Turnbull defeated Peter King for Wentworth before the 2004 election.

Matheson defeated Farmer by a margin of 22-9, which was a surprise to none. Farmer has become increasingly unpopular since the 2007 election, when he suffered a 10% swing against him, barely held on, and then proceeded to attack Macarthur voters and move his family to Mosman.

You’d have to think Matheson will struggle to hold on to the seat. While Farmer’s popularity has taken a hit through his antics and his closeness to the Howard government, Macarthur was one of the only seats in 2007 where the ALP polled higher in the Senate than in the House of Representatives he would still have his own personal vote. Considering that his party has turned on him and turfed him out, you would have to think Matheson will miss that substantial personal vote that can be exploited by the ALP.

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  1. I think Farmer wouldn’t have had much of a personal vote left after his recent antics. Matheson at least presents a fresh face free of that sort of baggage. Obviously the polls suggest Labor would win a seat like Macarthur comfortably, but Matheson would have probably 5-10% chance of winning compared to 0% for Farmer.

  2. And according to the ABC Campbelltown Liberal councillor Jai Rowell won preselection for the state seat of Wollondilly. The only nominee apparently, which seems odd given that the seat would seem to be a certain Liberal gain.

  3. I think Farmer’s personal vote held just enough to save him last time. Around Camden, Narellan and the rural areas he maintained enough votes to hang on. He got between 57% & 68% in the 5 Camden booths, 58% at Harrington Park, and over 70% for the smaller rural boths like Cawdor, Catherine Field, Cobbity, Theresa Park and Orangeville (over 3000 votes in all). Whilst this is good Liberal territory there would still have been a lot of personal vote here.

    Matheson is well known in Campbelltown, but that’s much more solid ALP territory and whilst he is easily elected and elects a second on his ticket each council election it’s still only on 10% of the total vote. He’s a nobody elsewhere so unless there is a general swing away from the government I’d expect to see the Liberal vote a few percent softer in the areas Farmer was strong, but no significant gain in Campbelltown. I just don’t see Matheson as being a smart strategic selection. If the ALP put up a candidate with a reasonable profile in Camden they’ll win this fairly comfortably.

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