One Nation’s big vote in the Hunter


One of the big surprises in the recent federal election was the performance of One Nation in the NSW electorate of Hunter. This seat covers the more rural parts of the Hunter Valley, stretching from the western shore of Lake Macquarie up to Cessnock, Muswellbrook and Scone. It’s held by Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon, who held it by a 12.5% margin prior to the election. He suffered the third-worst swing for a Labor candidate behind the north Queensland seats of Capricornia and Dawson, with his margin cut by 9.7%.

But the seat stood out for the remarkably high One Nation vote in the lower house. One Nation’s Stuart Bonds polled over 21%. One Nation didn’t poll over 20% in any other seat. The next best seat outside of Queensland for One Nation was the neighbouring seat of Paterson, where they polled 14%. Paterson is another urban-rural fringe electorate in the Hunter, covering Maitland and Port Stephens.

I’ve put together an interactive map showing how One Nation did in the Hunter region, which is below the fold. I’m not planning to assess why the swing was so large in this area, but hopefully the map is useful to others interested in the area.

This map has three layers of voting data. You can toggle between the One Nation House vote in the two seats named above, view the One Nation Senate vote in the four seats in the Hunter region (including Newcastle and Shortland) or see the two-candidate-preferred swing across the region. I really don’t recommend viewing more than one of these layers at the same time.

(You can link on the little chain icon in the bottom right of the map to blow it up into its own window.)

One Nation certainly did better in the more rural parts of Hunter, polling well over 25% in the Muswellbrook and Singleton areas and 23% in the Cessnock area. But they also did very well in the more suburban Lake Macquarie area.

In my pre-election guide, I divided Hunter into six subareas. The Lake Macquarie part of the electorate makes up a majority of the population, and was split into north, central and south. One Nation polled just over 21% in the north and south and they polled 17% in the centre.

One Nation did not do as well in the Senate, but it was still their best area in New South Wales. One Nation polled 14.1% in the Senate in Hunter and 11.4% in Paterson. They just cracked 10% in the deeply rural electorates of Parkes and New England, and nowhere else. They doubled the Greens Senate vote in these seats.

If you look at the two-candidate-preferred swing map, you see a similar trend in microcosm to what we’ve seen in the big cities. The more educated and wealthier inner city areas swung to Labor (in this case, the urban parts of Newcastle) while the suburban outskirts favoured the Coalition. For simplicity I have coded swings to the Coalition as blue, but the Nationals were the coalition party in the seat of Hunter.

That’s it for today. This is the first in a series of posts focusing on an election map in an interesting part of the country. If you have a request please post it as a comment below. Tomorrow: Warringah.

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  1. Ben I would like to know your basis for saying that inner city Newcastle was the wealthier and more educated part of the region. When you consider the number of palatial residences and horse studs in regional Hunter owned by some of Australia’s business elite I am not sure this holds true. In addition the highly skilled and educated workers living in the newer aspirational suburbs scattered across the region skew this as well. Take a drive through the Hunter and you might ask yourself if some of these assumptions hold true?

  2. 24% of people in Newcastle have a bachelors degree, compared to 11% in Hunter.

    28% of workers in Newcastle are professionals, compared to 14% in Hunter.

    Median family income per week in Newcastle is $1820. Compared to $1547 in Hunter.

    They have the same number of households who earn under $650 per week gross income (21.7%) but 15.3% of households in Newcastle earn over $3000, compared to 12% in Hunter.

    There may be some palatial residences in the Hunter but that doesn’t necessarily scale. There are also plenty of people with massive houses in Western Sydney but it doesn’t invalidate the trend.

  3. @Gregory, don’t be deceived by the horse studs and vineyards, the Hunter Valley has all the socioeconomic markers of disadvantage of any regional area, compared with coastal urban areas.

    I agree this result can be put down mostly to a protest vote from rusted on Labor voters – not only not wanting to make the jump across to LNP, but also the local LNP not having the quality of candidates or brand strength that they have in other areas.

    The growing and remarkably high primary vote for Greg Piper in the state seat that covers the west of Lake Mac should have also been an indication that Labor shouldn’t take the area for granted based solely on history.

  4. How does this relate to the vote in the state election in this area? A centrist independent is now rusted on to the seat of Lake Macquarie

  5. May you also analyse Robertson? I think the trend of the more ‘thoughtful’ areas swinging to Labor will be replicated but I’d appreciate your analysis. Thank you.

  6. The big question is whether the PHON candidate can make up the gap between him and the Nats, currently under 2,500 votes, on preferences.

  7. @Mark Yore

    Probably a similar type of voter to the British voters who voted Labour in 2010 and UKIP in 2015 (i.e. the sort who wanted to protest against Labour but not vote for the Tories)

  8. In regard to the PHON Senate result for these four electorates, the number two PHON NSW Senate candidate is a local and a surgeon for the Hunter Valley and Newcastle region for the last twenty eight years.

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