Richmond – Australia 2016

ALP 1.6%

Incumbent MP
Justine Elliot, since 2004.

Geography
Far north coast of NSW. Richmond covers Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Ballina, Murwillumbah, Mullumbimby and surrounding areas. It covers the entirety of Tweed and Byron council areas, as well as the majority of Ballina council area.

Map of Richmond's 2013 and 2016 boundaries. 2013 boundaries marked as red lines, 2016 boundaries marked as white area. Click to enlarge.
Map of Richmond’s 2013 and 2016 boundaries. 2013 boundaries marked as red lines, 2016 boundaries marked as white area. Click to enlarge.

Redistribution
Richmond lost northern parts of Lismore council area, including Nimbin, to Page. Richmond then gained the town of Ballina and surrounding areas from Page. These changes cut the Labor margin from 3% to 1.6%.

History
Richmond is an original federation seat, and has always covered the northeastern corner of New South Wales, although it has contracted further into that corner over the last century as other seats have been created in northeastern NSW. The seat was consistently held by conservative parties from its creation until 1990, and was gained by the Country Party early in its existence in 1922, and they held it continously for almost seventy years.

Recently it has become a much more marginal seat, although the 2007 election result pushed the seat out of the marginal category.

The seat was first won in 1901 by Protectionist Thomas Ewing, who served as a minister in the Deakin government from 1905 to 1908 before retiring in 1910. His seat was retained by Liberal candidate Walter Massy-Greene. Massy-Greene went on to serve as a minister in Billy Hughes’ Nationalist governments, but lost Richmond to Country Party candidate Roland Green in 1922. He was appointed to the Senate in 1923, and served there until his retirement in 1938. He was relegated to the backbench during the Stanley Bruce government, but returned to the ministry as part of the Lyons government in the 1930s.

Green was regularly challenged by other Country Party candidates at subsequent federal elections. While the ALP stood in Richmond in 1925, Green was reelected unopposed in 1928 and faced opposition only from another Country Party candidate in 1929. At the 1931 election Green was challenged by three other Country candidates and one independent. He was regularly challenged by Robert Gibson at every election from 1928 to 1937. Green barely held on against internal party opponents at the 1931 and 1934 elections.

In 1937, two Country Party candidates and an ALP candidate all stood against the sitting Country MP. While Green came first on primary votes, Gibson’s preferences pushed Country candidate Larry Anthony ahead of the ALP candidate, and then ALP preferences gave the seat to Anthony.

Anthony served as a minister under Robert Menzies and Arthur Fadden in 1940 and 1941 and was a senior member of the Opposition during the Curtin/Chifley Labor government. In 1949 he joined Robert Menzies’ cabinet, and served in it until his death in 1957.

The subsequent by-election saw four Country Party candidates stand, although one clearly stood out, with Anthony’s son Doug polling 49.8% of the primary vote.

The younger Anthony joined the ministry in 1964 and was groomed to be the next leader of the Country Party, and upon Jack McEwen’s retirement in 1971 he became Deputy Prime Minister. The Coalition lost power in 1972, and Anthony returned to the role of Deputy Prime Minister upon the dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975. He served in this role throughout the Fraser government, during which time his party’s name changed first to the National Country Party and then to the National Party. Following the election of the Hawke government in 1983, Anthony retired in 1984.

The seat was retained in 1984 by Nationals state director Charles Blunt, outpolling a Liberal Party challenger and overtaking the ALP on Liberal preferences, despite Blunt having no local links with the far north of NSW. Blunt immediately moved to the shadow ministry and in 1989 managed to win a leadership challenge against Ian Sinclair. His leadership saw attempts to modernise the party and bring it closer to the Liberal Party, but Blunt’s leadership was cut short in 1990 when he lost Richmond to ALP candidate Neville Newell, who won a slim margin after a 7.1% swing. While the Nationals margin had fallen below 60% in the 1980s, this still saw a big jump in the ALP vote.

Newell held on in 1993 against a challenge from Nationals candidate Larry Anthony (son of Doug and grandson of Larry Sr) and a Liberal candidate. In 1996, Newell was defeated by the third-generation of the Anthony family. Newell went on to hold the state seat of Tweed from 1999 until his defeat in 2007.

Anthony was reelected in 1998 and 2001, although won by slim margins very different to the huge margins won by his father and grandfather. The 2004 election saw Anthony, then a junior minister in the Howard government, defeated by ALP candidate Justine Elliot, against a national swing to the Coalition in a backlash against Mark Latham’s leadership of the ALP.

Elliot gained a 7.4% swing in 2007, increasing her margin to 8.9%, which was cut to 7% in 2010. Elliot was a minister in the first term of the Labor government and then a parliamentary secretary from 2010 to 2013, and returned to the backbench in February 2013. Elliot was re-elected in 2013 by a 3% margin.

Candidates

Assessment
Richmond is a very marginal seat, and in the case of a swing to the Coalition, the sitting MP Elliot could be in trouble, although it seems more likely that she’ll be re-elected in 2016.

The Greens also have ambitions to win Richmond. While the Greens vote is very high in Byron, and is reasonably high in the Ballina area, they poor very poorly in the Tweed Heads area, which is the largest part of the seat.

2013 result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Matthew Fraser Nationals 32,06637.6+16.439.0
Justine Elliot Labor 28,57533.5-5.734.4
Dawn Walker Greens 15,08317.7+1.515.7
Phil AllenPalmer United Party6,3597.5+7.57.3
Kev SkinnerIndependent1,9712.3+2.32.1
John OrdishChristian Democratic Party1,2241.4+1.41.4
Others0.1
Informal4,4035.2

2013 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Justine Elliot Labor 45,17953.0-4.051.6
Matthew Fraser Nationals 40,09947.0+4.048.4
Polling places in Richmond at the 2013 federal election. Ballina in yellow, Byron in blue, Tweed Heads in green, Tweed Shire in red. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Richmond at the 2013 federal election. Ballina in yellow, Byron in blue, Tweed Heads in green, Tweed Shire in red. Click to enlarge.

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into four parts. Polling places in Byron and Ballina council areas have been grouped together. Booths in Tweed, which cover a majority of the population, have been split between those in Tweed Heads and in the remainder of the council.

Labor won a small majority of the two-party-preferred vote in Tweed Shire (52.4%) and Ballina (51.2%). Labor won a much larger 68% majority in Byron, and the Nationals won 53.6% in Tweed Heads.

The Greens vote ranged from 8.4% in Tweed Heads to 36.8% in Byron.

Voter groupGRN %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Tweed Heads8.446.417,36919.4
Tweed Shire15.252.415,12116.9
Byron36.868.213,04014.6
Ballina11.451.210,05011.2
Other votes12.948.633,89937.9
Two-party-preferred votes in Richmond at the 2013 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Richmond at the 2013 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Richmond at the 2013 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Richmond at the 2013 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Tweed Heads at the 2013 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Tweed Heads at the 2013 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Tweed Heads at the 2013 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Tweed Heads at the 2013 federal election.

33 COMMENTS

  1. Just a note on the history here, and I’m surprised I didn’t notice this in the previous elections, but Labor’s own vote didn’t actually go up in 1990. The Labor primary vote itself actually went down. It was the 23.3% primary vote of Helen Caldicott which shook up the primary votes (allegedly as a result of a rush of new enrolments). Blunt had 40.9%, Newell 26.7, and there was a 6.3% vote for the Democrats. Newell stayed comfortably ahead of Caldicott on the Democrat and other minor candidates’ preferences, and won with 50.5% after the distribution of Caldicott’s preferences.

    It is somewhat curious that the Greens have still yet to match Caldicott’s vote in this electorate at a federal level, but they should further ground this time. Greens federal campaigns here haven’t been professionally run in the past, 2013 was the first that came close to this but wasn’t run to the scale of a true target seat campaign. Although the redistribution was probably the worst outcome the Greens could get, I think they still have the capacity to pick up several percent if this year’s campaign is ramped up to the next level of organisation. The Tweed Heads area is a big obstacle to the Greens being able to challenge Labor for 2nd place though.

    On the old boundaries, and with the 2013 Liberal preference flows in the Labor-Greens contests, I had calculated this as the 2nd strongest Greens target after Melbourne Ports, but I can’t remember what assumption I was making about Grayndler for that, and I would assume this does drop below Grayndler on these boundaries even assuming the same unfavourable 2013 preference situation. It’s a >9% swing from Labor to Greens required for the Greens to get ahead, which seems a bit much to make up in one election.

    Elliot isn’t that impressive an MP, but I’m not sure Matthew Fraser made that much of an impression as a candidate last time, and it was somewhat surprising he’s been given another shot. I assume this will be a Labor retain with a swing to them on 2PP, but Elliot may lose ground to the Greens on primary votes.

  2. Elliot should retain easily, and probably increase her 2PP lead. The redistribution hurt the Greens, and in my view wasn’t a great solution overall.
    I would expect the 2PP to still be between Labor-Nats, but the Greens should gain enough to be around 20%-23%

  3. L96
    The redistribution was always going to be terrible after the AEC decided not to go over the mountains into New England.
    In any event , Richmond would always have received all of Ballina, or part of Lismore LGA. So yes far from ideal.
    Are you contending that the Greens vote will really lift 25-40 % ?? . ATM it is 15.7%..

  4. L96
    That is still a huge increase in % terms. What would cause this ??. The only thing that seems possible, would be the labor vote just falling off a cliff.
    AS Tweed Heads is moving to the Nats with a steady flow of wealthier retirees, replacing battler/ pensioner retirees, this town is starting to mirror Caloundra more.
    Ballina won’t change much. Byron can’t have much more upside for the Greens surely??
    Who knows what happens in Tweed shire ??

  5. At the state level Ballina was at 15% and the surrounds were at 21%, averaging off the two their vote was around 17% for the areas in Richmond, thats a change of 6% compared to the Federal result.
    In Byron their result was 44% compared to 37% at the last Federal poll.
    Also I’m not including Jeff Johnson, the former Greens Ballina councillor who ran as an Independent achieved 10% around Ballina, surely he’d be taking left-of-centre voters inclined to vote Green.
    I also think they can increase their share of the vote around the Tweed Hinterland, again at the state level their vote was 28% compared to 15% at the Federal poll.

    Finally you are completely correct about wealthier retirees moving into Tweed Heads. Although they are probably more inclined to vote Lib then Nat. which begs the question should this still be a Nat seat in terms of the Coalition.

  6. Of course Labor didn’t have any incumbents at a state level during the election, and they still don’t. So one could say it was easier for left-wing voters to swing straight to the Greens over Labor instead.

  7. L96
    Well you certainly have crunched some numbers. Very impressive indeed. With OPV at state level i can see the validity of your position.
    The Greens did very well in the 2015 state election.
    I actually care far more about the competency of the candidate, than who, or which party they represent.
    I want/demand universally higher standards from all our politicians .
    Maybe the Libs have a better claim on Richmond, but they occupy many seats that ought to be National ; Hume, Farrer, E-M, Gilmore Wannon, Murray, SA, WA etc.
    Besides the NATS have to win it to lose it!!!.

  8. I agree that its about the candidates competency and the standards they uphold, I wouldn’t say the candidates in Richmond are anything special.
    The major parties and the Greens in their target seats need to pick good candidates and for the most part they are. My concern is that the major parties pick idiots in safe seats as a reward for their subservience. Not only that the administrative wings of the parties need to change, Labor, especially in safe seats have huge amounts of stacking, I for one as a member of the party would like to have a go at any individual who branch stacks. Then again the Libs in NSW seem no better, they just seem to run everything by a politburo panel of elites to preselect candidates.

  9. L96
    We seem in furious agreement.
    The libs in NSW are just the worst.. As with most ” politburos”!! , it will take a revolution !!!. Nil progress so far.
    Glastnost would not work up here, people do need to be shot !!!.
    I completely share your view , & concerns about idiots in safe seats. The attribution, you have made , is more than reasonable.
    I hope your faith in the current crop of candidates is more than vindicated. But i know little if nothing of them.
    The branch stacking issue is one i know nothing of.
    & Yes the candidates of Richmond seem un-inspiring., It is a shame we have no local perspective.

  10. Another interesting feature of the 2013 results here was that the Greens vote went up 7% in the Byron Shire, whilst it went down in line with the broader trend in many other booths such as those in Tweed Heads. The Greens vote had seemed depressed at federal level in Byron compared to other levels at previous elections, perhaps a reflection on the previous candidate.

  11. Nick C
    That is remarkable. What was it about the candidate??.
    Can you give us a local perspective on the candidates, as you live in Page ??

  12. L96
    Apparently Mathew Fraser is the franchisee of several Hungry Jack’s. I’d have thought that would be a pretty tough gig, business wise.
    It wouldn’t be easy employing that many people. Employment is the hardest part of small business.
    Anyway, i’d be more inclined than not , to believe he is no fool.

  13. It’s more than CSG. There’s been consistent gradual increases in Greens support over time. It goes back to the ‘alternative lifestyle’ communities and is supplimented by the sea- and tree-changers. The demographics are interesting because the age profiles are almost the opposite of the inner city Greens strongholds. Look at charts of population by age groups for the SA2s of Mullumbimby and Newtown and you’ll be amazed at the contrast.

  14. Mick Quinlivan
    GEE !!!!!
    What a revelation !!!!.
    You obviously expect an across the board 2PP swing to the ALP , so what an INCREDIBLE surprise !!!!.
    How about doing something interesting ???
    PUT A REAL NUMBER ON IT. Better yet , try to justify your conclusions with an argument !!!

  15. Nick C, it seems that a seat like Melbourne Ports is a good comparison. It is both becoming more Green and more Liberal/National, with Labor getting caught in the middle.

    In the short/medium term, this will probably be a genuine three-way marginal: National vs Whichever Left party polls better.

  16. MM
    IMV Richmond is a special case , seat wise. Although you are absolutely correct in everything you have said, even WRT Melbourne Ports.
    The difference is that the ALP attrition, or decimation, seems much more rapid. Something of a race. It seems that the Nats are winning, mostly due to the higher population growth of the Tweed.
    This would indicate that the ALP margin is illusory, & the contest for this seat will be very close indeed. IMV the impact from the redistribution is under estimated also.

  17. Yet another Division where the AEC failed to adhere to their own principles when creating the Divisional boundary between Richmond and Page in Ballina Shire.
    As I wrote in my response to this proposed boundary; I was bemused to find the Committee’s proposed CED boundary separating Richmond and Page within Ballina LGA consisted of 8 different roads, 2 watercourses and a locality boundary. This didn’t appear to comply with their principle of “strong and readily identifiable features such as major roads, railway lines and waterways.”
    My proposal was that the divisional boundary within Ballina LGA runs along the Bruxner Highway/Alstonville Bypass from where it crosses the Lismore LGA boundary at Marom Creek, until it crosses Emigrant Creek, then south, continuing downstream along Emigrant Creek, east along the Richmond River and into the South Pacific Ocean. That is; 1 road and 2 watercourse names. I thought my proposal better complied with the boundary principle than the AEC’s did, but they didn’t change it when the final boundaries were published.
    I must be missing something!
    On to how this seat will be decided on July 2; Richmond is 1 of the 50 Seats I will be watching on election night. The loss of green votes from Lismore will be felt by the incumbent, but ultimately, I expect Labor to increase its margin over the Nationals. I also wonder if the Liberals should stand a candidate in this seat to try and pick up some of the vote that goes to other parties. They would probably do quite well in Tweed Heads itself if not out-poll the Nationals overall.
    The old days of 3 generations of the Anthony family holding this seat are long gone.

  18. Morgan has Labor on 30.5, the Greens on 29 and the Nats on 27.
    perhaps if this transpired and the Nats were able to overtake Labor then the Greens would get up.

  19. Wonder which part of the electorate Morgan polled, because it’s not really plausible that there’d be such a greater shift from the Nats to the Greens than from the ALP. In reality if the Greens were to get 29% here they’d undoubtedly be overtaking Labor, not the Nats.

  20. Richmond will be a very close finish between the Greens and Labor. All the momentum on the ground is with the Green campaign. Rural voters are fleeing the Nationals in droves and joining the Greens over CSG. Likewise with Labor, who the electorate feel have taken the seat for granted. A seat to watch on election night for sure.

  21. Elliot failed to turn up for the peoples forum at Tweed Heads (PM live Sky) . What could possibly be more important than fronting a few hundred of your constituents, & thousands more on TV ???.
    What disgraceful arrogance, & idiocy. However i doubt she will be punished for her lazy stupidity.

  22. L96 wrote a while back: “Apparently Mathew Fraser is the franchisee of several Hungry Jack’s. I’d have thought that would be a pretty tough gig, business wise. It wouldn’t be easy employing that many people. Employment is the hardest part of small business.
    Anyway, I’d be more inclined than not , to believe he is no fool
    Hungry Jacks is not a franchise, but a company. The employees, including the managers, are directly employed by HJs. They are very proud of this point of difference with other fast food places, and in our family’s experience they are a better employer than two other well known franchise operations. Your points probably remains valid in as much as he has to manage a lot of people, but he would be do so in a good supportive corporate environment. Perhaps he should apply to be a departmental Secretary rather than a Minister!

  23. Nationals candidate Fraser also did not turn up for Byron candidates’ forum. Justine Elliot was seen as the best speaker at the forum (according to local papers and attendees).

  24. My prediction: Likely Labor hold, next time the Coalition wins Richmond, the Liberals could be the larger conservative party in the area, given the growth of Tweed Heads.

  25. Byron Bay
    Are you sure Fraser was invited ???. Paul Murray refused to invite the Green candidate to the Tweed Heads do !!.
    What a shock that Elliot found support in such an area !!!.

  26. winediamond .. Paul Murray loves Coalition people but loathes ALP and Greens, the Nationals guy would have been the first invited.

  27. Frankly, Paul Murray’s show has so little swaying power, all the people who watch his show always vote Coalition or right wing minors. It’s probably nothing to look into.

  28. Murray’s viewership may be low but I have noticed he has had some impact in what the press follows the next day he is setting an agenda in the campaign.

  29. Murray’s viewership may be low but I have noticed he has had some impact in what the press follows the next day he is setting an agenda in the campaign.

  30. Richmond was not quite the 3-cornered contest some thought it might be, but perhaps it is a case of “next time”. The Labor vs Green numbers are actually very similar to what Melbourne Ports was in 2013, although the Coalition vote is slightly weaker.

    Interestingly, the swing here seemed to be driven mostly by big movements in Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah, with not much change through most of the rest of the seat.

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