The great divide in Macquarie and the big swing in Lindsay


I’m writing this post on Tuesday evening. Earlier today Labor MP Susan Templeman narrowly pulled ahead in the seat of Macquarie by just 27 votes. Who knows who will be leading when this post goes up on Thursday morning.

I’ve always found Macquarie to be a fascinating electorate, because it has long been marginal despite the constituent parts of the electorate not being particularly marginal in themselves.

The electorate covers the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury council areas on the western and north-western fringe of Sydney. About 55% of election-day votes cast in this electorate in 2016 were cast in the mountains.

I divided this electorate into three areas in my pre-election guide, with the Blue Mountains split between lower mountains and upper mountains. I had the Labor two-party-preferred vote at 68.8% in the upper mountains, 57.4% in the lower mountains and just 41.1% in the Hawkesbury area.

I have produced a map showing the two-party-preferred vote in this electorate, as well as neighbouring Lindsay, below the fold.

The electorate of Lindsay recorded a 6.5% swing to the Liberal Party following the removal of local member Emma Husar, and is an interesting comparison to Labor’s results in the Blue Mountains.

You can toggle this map to show the swings at the two-party-preferred level, rather than the totals. In some ways that’s a more interesting map.

The upper mountains are quite distinct from western Sydney and in some ways are similar to more Greens-friendly educated communities on the NSW north coast or in the inner city, while the lower mountains more resemble the western suburbs. Hawkesbury is a Liberal-voting area, but more like Liberal-voting enclaves in Western Sydney such as the Hills district than the Liberal heartland of the North Shore.

The trend in Macquarie reflects what we’ve seen in a lot of places. Labor gained small swings in most of the upper mountains, while the Liberals gained small swings in the lower mountains and some large swings in parts of the Hawkesbury region.

It’s interesting to compare these swings to those in Lindsay, which saw bigger swings than in the lower mountains. I tend to think that is evidence that there was something specific about Lindsay which led to such a large swing, but I admit to not having done the deeper analysis to justify such a claim.

The count in Macquarie will likely end up in a recount, and whoever wins it’s bound to be a close seat at the next election, and will continue to be as long as the Labor-voting mountains and the Liberal-voting Hawkesbury are joined together.

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  1. Voting at close of Wednesday 29th, Labors Susan Templeman surged ahead to about 270 votes, with 7% left to count. If this continues, and Labor prevails, the govt has 77 seats, majority plus, 1.spare, same as Malcolm had. Morrison was counting on 78, and appointed Tony Smith Speaker.

  2. The AEC this morning has the Liberal in Lindsay way ahead 2CP. Not surprising after the way the ALP faceless men treated the former MHR Emma Husar who was a real worker and single mother but did not fit in with the chardonnay socialists now running the ALP.

  3. Interesting question, Pyrmonter. I don’t have a complete answer, but possible explanations for further investigation:
    1. I think the age structure has changed – lack detailed figures, but a report from 2016 suggests that recent net migration into the mountains was in the 35-44 year group. Definitely population growth in the Katoomba area.
    2. Kerry Bartlett was relatively popular, and he’d been the local member since the nineties. He lost in 2007 to Bob Debus (would look at those figures, but I don’t have time right now), and the Liberal member after that was Louise Markus, who did not endear herself to locals, outside the Legacy and Senior Citizens cohorts.
    3. Increased concerns about climate change and the growth in the Green vote, along with the tendency to preference Labor.

  4. Pyrnmonter .. It’s the Byron Bay effect. Also seen in places like Daylesford, The Dandenongs and Lorne-Otways in Victoria and Noosa in Qld. The area has become attractive to a subgroup of educated, tech-savvy tree-changers who have worked out a way to support themselves without living in the city.

    Ben, The swings in Chifley and McMahon were on par with that in Lindsay. Greenway was about half and Macarthur didn’t swing at all. Seems to be a combination of a general swing of maybe 4% through the outer west but marked either up or down by seat-specific factors, such as sophomore surge (Macarthur), scandal (Lindsay) and the propensity of the really strong Labor areas to swing harder (Chifley). Will be interesting to rank seats by swing and state once counting has finished.

  5. Glenbrook Local – In relation to the former Liberal MHR Kerry Bartlett who won Macquarie in the Howardslide in 1996 retained it in the GST Election of 1998 with reduced margins then won comfortable in 2001 and 2004. You are correct in that Kerry was easily defeated by Bob Debus in 2007 but these were on totally different boundaries to the current configuration of the Blue Mountains/Hawkesbury LGA’s. In 2007 the AEC had to redraw electoral boundaries after NSW lost an Electorate to Queensland. The AEC abolished Gydir – former Nationals Leader Deputy PM John Anderson’s Electorate in the Bush and accordingly had to redraw boundaries for 49 Electoral Divisions instead of 50. For the 2007 election only the Macquarie Electorate went west to it’s historical boundaries that included not only the Blue Mountains LGA but also Lithgow and Bathurst with the Hawkesbury LGA moved into a reconfigured Greenway Electorate that included parts of the Blacktown LGA as well. The margin for Macquarie went from being a 5% something Liberal Electorate to a 5% something Labor one overnight. Kerry Bartlett knew he was up against it but being the true gentlemen he is he accepted the outcome with good grace rolled his sleeves up and went door knocking in Lithgow and Bathurst. It was all in vain but Kerry’s defeat in 2007 was on totally different boundaries, which the AEC scrapped after one term and returned Macquarie to the Blue Mountains-Hawkesbury configuration that had been in place since 1984

  6. I have heard it mooted some years ago that lower income people were encouraged to move to the upper mountains because there was plenty of housing available and the private rental market was quite cheap – especially compared to Sydney. I have also heard it said about the Dandenongs outside Melbourne. It might explain some of the increase in the left wing vote. There is also a big arts community in the Mountains – again drawn by lower housing costs who would feed the large Green vote.

  7. Pyrmonter – Having looked at the numbers, I’m not sure how instructive a comparison with 2004 is.
    In 2004 in the Upper Mountains, Labor achieved 57% of the 2PP vote – their candidate was Mark Ptolemy (now a co-founder of the Australian Workers Party, briefly named Labour Coalition).

    In 2007 in the Upper Mountains, it was 65% to Labor – their candidate Bob Debus, year of the Ruddslide.
    66% in 2010 (Susan Templeman the unsuccessful candidate)
    64% in 2013 (Templeman again)
    68% in 2016 (Templeman elected)

    The above includes Katoomba Pre-Poll from 2010 – I assume for earlier years all pre-poll votes are at the bottom of the page. Anyway, the current 2PP figures for the Upper Mountains are impressive even by 2007 standards, but I think it’s building on the past rather than a big jump this year.

    Juzzo – thank you for that background, which certainly helps explain the overall results year to year. I focused on the Upper mountains due to the earlier question, so it pretty much eliminates the boundaries issue.

    Redistributed – December quarter ’18 employment figures are pretty good for Katoomba compared with a few years ago. Suggest that up to date statistics on other demographics might help build a better picture. Of course retirees would not be in the stats, nor those insecurely employed in the arts and tourism in that quarter.

    I hope this is only posted once – feel free to delete if more than one appears. @#&^!! Internet! Roll on, NBN.

  8. Susan Templeman’s win in Macquarie by around 400 votes is a lucky escape for her. The Libs should never have lost this seat in the first place however all is not lost. To her credit Templeman has developed a bit of a cult following in the Blue Mountains which is not such a surprise given the increasingly left leaning booths once you leave the working commuter belt of the lower Blue Mountians. What is surprising is how well Templeman did in the Lower Mountains which in the end won her the seat despite swings of 3% to 5% against her in Glenbrook and Blaxland. I know relatively conservative people who still voted for her which is perplexing given she’s hard left ALP, noting that Templeman and hubbie Ron Fuller (ex ABC journo and media union activist) are quite the leftist royal couple. Anyways Templeman held the seat by polling better than would normally be the case in booths such as Lapstone Glenbrook Blaxland Mt Riverview areas which account for around 7,000 votes in total. By way of example Templeman did much better in the booths of Lapstone and Glenbrook relative to the low profile ALP candidate for Penrith in the state election 6 weeks prior. These 2 booths have around 3000 votes and gave Templeman a 200 vote gain relative to the State election
    so you can see how she won it in the lower Mountains when you apply similar gains to the other 4,000 votes in the lower Mountains. Sarah Richards ran a strong campaign in the Hawkesbury part of the seat and almost pulled it offer there alone. However with some more appearances in the lower Mountains she may well have pulled it off as these hard working commuter areas are very fertile ground for Scott Morrison’s Quite Australians messaging.

    As for the stronger results in the adjoining Lindsay seat that’s pretty straight forward. Lindsay is wall to
    wall Quite Australians who lapped up what the PM had to say and were never Shorten people. Wrapped up with a fresh and energetic campaign from the Lib candidate Melissa Mc Intosh along with the Husar stench and it was a Lib gain by a 10,000 vote margin. Whilst the Alp candidate Diane Beamer was well known from her time as one of the local State Members (1995 to 2011), the perception was she’d had her go ages ago and in any case the do nothing Carr/Iemma/Reece/Keneally Labor government is hardly something you’d wear as a badge of honour anywhere in NSW. Not sure if her heart was in it either as her campaign was on the low energy low profile sprectrum compared to the historic campaigns of local ALP which in the past at least have been quite formidalble eg Faye LoPo David Bradbury and Beamer back in the day.

  9. Correction the lower Mountains areas have 8,400 votes which had a 2pp to Labor of 52.3%. Libs would easily get 52/53% in this area without Templeman which is her 400
    Vote Margin win.

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