Joel Fitzgibbon, since 1996.
Hunter covers inland parts of the Hunter region, including western parts of the City of Lake Macquarie, a majority of Cessnock council area, as well as the entirety of the Muswellbrook and Singleton council areas. A majority of the seat’s population lies in the Lake Macquarie council area, with the bulk of the remainder in the Cessnock area.
Hunter is an original Federation seat, and has been held by Labor for most of its history. The seat was first won by Prime Minister Edmund Barton in 1901. Barton resigned as Prime Minister and Member for Hunter in 1903 to take a seat on the High Court, and Hunter was won at the following election by Free Trader Frank Liddell. Liddell held the seat at the 1906 election, but lost in 1910.
The seat was won in 1910 by the ALP’s Matthew Charlton. Charlton served as the ALP’s leader from 1922 to 1928, retiring at the 1928 election. He was succeeded by Rowley James, elected as a Labor candidate. James held the seat for thirty years, although he served as a member of Jack Lang’s breakaway party from 1931 to 1936, when he was readmitted to the ALP.
James retired in 1958, and was replaced by Labor leader HV Evatt. Evatt had previously held the Sydney seat of Barton, but judged it to be too marginal and moved to the safer Hunter.
Evatt resigned as Labor leader and Member for Hunter in 1960, and the by-election was won by Bert James, son of Rowley. The younger James held Hunter for twenty years, retiring in 1980.
He was succeeded by the ALP’s Bob Brown. Brown moved to the new seat of Charlton in 1984, and was succeeded in Hunter by former Mayor of Cessnock, Eric Fitzgibbon. Fitzgibbon held the seat for twelve years before retiring in 1996.
The seat was won in 1996 by Joel Fitzgibbon, son of the previous MP. Fitzgibbon junior has held Hunter since 1996. He served as Defence Minister from 2007 to 2009, and briefly served as a minister again in 2013.
The redistribution prior to the 2016 election effectively merged the seat of Hunter with the Lake Macquarie electorate of Charlton, which was another reasonably safe Labor seat. Hunter expanded into the Lake Macquarie area to take in most of Charlton, while losing rural areas to the north and west of the seat. A slight majority of the seat’s population was drawn from Charlton.
Fitzgibbon was re-elected in the redrawn seat, and won again in 2019. Charlton MP Pat Conroy, who had held the seat for one term, shifted to the neighbouring seat of Shortland.
Hunter is a marginal seat after a large swing in 2019. The seat could well be in play, but there is also a long history of the seat being won by Labor. The big question is whether the swing in 2019 is the beginning of a trend, with Labor support collapsing in a seat where coal is a major factor, or if Hunter will continue it’s long trend of voting to the left of the state at every election since 1987.
|Stuart Bonds||One Nation||22,029||21.6||+21.6|
|Paul Davies||United Australia Party||4,407||4.3||+4.3|
|James Murphy||Animal Justice||3,267||3.2||+3.2|
|Richard Stretton||Christian Democratic Party||2,356||2.3||-1.1|
|Max Boddy||Socialist Equality Party||687||0.7||+0.7|
2019 two-party-preferred result
Booths have been divided into six parts. A majority of the seat’s population is contained within the City of Lake Macquarie, and these areas have been split into central, north and south. The remaining booths were grouped according to local government boundaries: Cessnock, Muswellbrook and Singleton.
Labor won a majority of the election-day vote in all but one of the six areas, with a vote ranging from 50.2% in southern Lake Macquarie to 61.6% in northern Lake Macquarie. The Nationals won 52.2% in Singleton, and also won the pre-poll vote.
One Nation polled strongly in Hunter, with a primary vote ranging from 17.2% in central Lake Macquarie to 25.5% in Muswellbrook.
|Voter group||ON prim %||ALP 2PP %||Total votes||% of votes|
|Lake Macquarie Central||17.2||58.1||11,953||11.7|
|Lake Macquarie North||21.5||61.6||10,652||10.4|
|Lake Macquarie South||21.3||50.2||7,614||7.5|