Macarthur – Australia 2022

ALP 8.4%

Incumbent MP
Mike Freelander, since 2016.

Macarthur covers most of the City of Campbelltown (except for Macquarie Fields and Glenfield) and a small part of Camden council area. The key suburbs are Campbelltown, Minto, Leumeah, Ingleburn, St Andrews, Raby, Bradbury, Ambarvale and Rosemeadow.


Macarthur was first created at the 1949 election, and has moved around southwestern Sydney, the southern highlands and the Illawarra over the last sixty years. The seat was a bellwether seat from 1949 until 2007, when the Liberals managed to hold on to the seat.

The seat was held from 1949 until 1972 by Jeff Bate of the Liberal Party, who became an independent in 1972 after losing preselection, before losing to the ALP’s John Kerin. Kerin held the seat until 1975. He later won the neighbouring seat of Werriwa in a 1978 by-election following the retirement of Gough Whitlam and served as a minister in the Hawke government, including a brief term as Treasurer following Paul Keating’s move to the backbench.

Michael Baume won the seat for the Liberal Party in 1975 and held the seat until the 1983 election, when he too was defeated. Baume returned to politics as a Senator following the 1984 election. He was defeated in 1983 by the ALP’s Colin Hollis, who transferred to the Illawarra seat of Throsby in 1984 following the expansion of the House of Representatives.

Hollis was succeeded in 1984 by Stephen Martin, who transferred to the seat of Cunningham in 1993 following a redistribution which presumably shifted Macarthur out of the Illawarra, which is now covered by Cunningham and Throsby. Martin went on to serve as Speaker during the final term of the Keating government and his 2002 retirement triggered the Cunningham by-election, which was won by the Greens. Chris Haviland held the seat for one term before he was defeated for Labor preselection in 1996 and retirement.

The new Labor candidate was defeated by former Liberal premier John Fahey, who had previously been the state member for Southern Highlands before his government was defeated in 1995. Fahey served as Finance Minister in the first two terms of the Howard government.

A 2001 redistribution saw Macarthur move out of the Southern Highlands and take in parts of southern Campbelltown, which had previously been included in Werriwa. This gave the ALP a notional majority in the seat, and the party nominated recurrent Mayor of Campbelltown Meg Oates. Fahey originally planned to transfer to the seat of Hume, which now covered his heartland territory around Bowral and Moss Vale, although he eventually retired at the 2001 election due to health problems.

The Liberal Party eventually preselected ultramarathon runner and charity fundraiser Pat Farmer, a personal favourite of John Howard, and he managed to win the seat with a swing to the Liberal Party. The 2004 election saw Farmer solidify his hold on the seat, holding the seat with a 9.5% margin.

Despite his margin increasing to over 11% thanks to a favourable redistribution, Pat Farmer barely held on in 2007.

The redistribution prior to the 2010 election made Macarthur a notional Labor seat. Farmer was defeated for Liberal preselection by former Campbelltown mayor Russell Matheson, who went on to retain the seat for the Liberal Party. Matheson was re-elected in 2013.

Another redistribution brought Macarthur into more Labor-friendly territory in 2016, and Matheson lost to Labor candidate Mike Freelander. Freelander was re-elected in 2019.


  • Jayden Rivera (Greens)
  • Binod Paudel (Liberal)
  • Mike Freelander (Labor)
  • Rosa Sicari (United Australia)
  • Scott Korman (Liberal Democrats)
  • Adam Zahra (One Nation)
  • Assessment
    Macarthur’s electoral boundaries have been redrawn significantly and that has made the seat a lot safer for Labor. The Liberal Party would have to do very well to win here.

    2019 result

    Mike Freelander Labor 47,53947.8-4.1
    Riley Munro Liberal 30,69630.8-5.0
    Shane NormanOne Nation8,5558.6+8.6
    Jayden Rivera Greens 4,3974.4+0.2
    James GentChristian Democratic Party3,7053.7-0.6
    Nathan MurphyUnited Australia Party2,5062.5+2.5
    Matt StellinoAnimal Justice2,1062.1+2.1

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    Mike Freelander Labor 58,11058.4+0.1
    Riley Munro Liberal 41,39441.6-0.1

    Booth breakdown

    Booths in Macarthur have been split into four parts. Most of the seat’s population is in the city of Campbelltown and this area has been split into north (including Minto, Ingleburn and St Andrews), central (including Airds, Campbelltown and Leumeah) and south (including Ambarvale, Bradbury and Rosemeadow). Those booths in the Camden council area, including Harrington Park and Leppington, have been grouped as west.

    The ALP won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in three out of four areas, ranging from 61.7% in the south to 65.8% in the north. The Liberal Party won 53.8% in the west.

    Voter groupON prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Other votes10.254.79,7569.8

    Election results in Oxley at the 2019 federal election
    Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for Labor and the Liberal Party.

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    1. Honest question. Who would have won this in 2007 and 2010 on the current boundaries?

      I have nothing to say about this seat except that Dr Freelander is under no threat. Negligible swing. The Campbelltown area will continue to grow and could become even safer for Labor in future providing it retains Campbelltown

    2. Daniel
      Freelander is just a “caretaker”MP. Absolutely useless. Tragically he has occupied a very safe seat for 2 terms. If they had to stick KK someplace why not here ? . Then Tu Le could have had Fowler. Surely that would have been a better outcome ?
      Labor would have won in 2007 2010 because the seat is 80% old Werriwa. This will reverse entirely in the next redistribution without question. Impossible for Macarthur to retain much if any of Campbelltown, as it will be part of Werriwa again. Id expect the labor margin for Werriwa to rise to 10-14% as a consequence.
      Ben’s view will be interesting

    3. The data shows that there’s a deficit in Sydney and an excess in Rural NSW (especially the coast), so yes I’d expect the changes from last time to be largely reversed at the next redistribution, as the Sydney seats expand outwards. I’d strongly expect Macarthur to return to being a Camden/Wollondilly based seat, and give most of Campbelltown back to Werriwa (and becoming a much more Liberal seat).

    4. Yes, agree Mark Mulcair that Macarthur will lose its Campbelltown component and return to being a peri-urban seat based around Camden and the outer reaches of the Sydney metropolitan area. All other districts in South-West Sydney (Werriwa, Fowler, McMahon and Blaxland) are more than 5% under quota and will need to gain electors at the next redistribution.

    5. Correction Werriwa is actually 6-7% over quota, but the other three are all under quota. This is similar to the situation for NSW state districts (those around Liverpool, Fairfield and Bankstown were under quota whilst those in the Camden and Campbelltown areas were over quota), which led to the abolition of Lakemba and creation of Leppington to balance elector numbers.

    6. Sydney has about half a seat too many and the Hunter / North Coast has half a seat too few. That is the big conundrum of the next redistribution – especially when there are lots of natural and historical barriers to an easy resolution.

    7. Redistributed, have you checked the latest AEC enrolment statistics? They show Hunter and Paterson now 10% over quota, also Cowper is 10% over quota. Lyne is 6% over quota and Whitlam is 7% over quota. That is almost 50% of a district over in the Hunter, North Coast and Illawarra regions.

    8. Yoh An
      Hunter, Paterson, Lyne, Newcastle and Cowper are between them now about 45% over quota. Of the coastal seats north of the Hawkesbury only Robertson is under quota – and not by much.
      Whitlam and Gilmore between them are about 17% over quota. However in the south of NSW, there are more ways to carve up the seats than in the north as there have been historically more linkages between the coast and the tableland.
      In Sydney – Warringah, Mackellar, North Sydney, Bradfield and Berowra are 30% below quota. And the combination of Cook, Hughes, Banks, Barton and Blaxland are also 30% below.
      The next redistribution will need to undertake some pretty radical surgery to get things sorted.

    9. I saw on the enrolment figures Macquarie is 7% under quota. Perhaps it could expand north, taking in some of the lower Hunter Valley around Putty

    10. I saw on the enrolment figures Macquarie is 7% under quota. Perhaps it could expand north, taking in some of the lower Hunter Valley around Putty

    11. You are right redistributed, half a seat too many means the area is 50% under quota. The only ‘sensible’ crossings between the Sydney metropolitan area and its surroundings in the northern end are the lower Hawkesbury River (Wisemans Ferry end) and possibly through the upper Blue Mountains (Bells Line of Road). Perhaps the best alignment may be Macquarie gaining areas up to Lithgow (since Calare is over quota). Then Berowra expands outwards into Colo and rural parts of the Central Coast, with its urban end around Pennant Hills being used to top up Bradfield.

    12. This is my home electorate presently, and I live in the Camden Council side of the electorate. It had been very quiet, compared to the neighbouring electorate of Hume, until today. Freelander has corflutes up on the intersection of Oran Park Dr, Gregory Hills Dr and Camden Valley Way. He also has corflutes leading up to the Narellan Road/Northern Road-Camden Valley Way intersection on the Narellan and Harrington Park sides of Camden Valley Way. Disappointingly, Freelander’s 2016 photo appears to be on these set of corflutes. No prizes for originality there.

    13. This seat didn’t swing that much on the 2PP compared to some other Western Sydney electorates last time around. Labor will hold it this time too.

      The redistribution might make this seat interesting for 2025.

    14. My expectation is that Macarthur will be radically redrawn at the next redistribution to take in all or most of Wollondilly LGA.

      The only things that will prevent this are:

      Macquarie extending into regional areas beyond the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury,
      a division hybridising Central Coast and Hornsby LGAs,
      a division hybridising Sutherland and Wollongong LGAs,
      drastic and unexpected changes in population trends.

    15. Nicholas. The third is possible.. if you make cook all Sutherland council then go to Hughes take in the rest then the Ilawarra

    16. I saw some United Australia Party corflutes around the Emerald Hills Shopping Centre (Leppington) tonight when calling in there for dinner. The corflutes were similar to those seen when travelling in the Denham Court/Edmondson Park area earlier today.

      Macarthur, sadly, is no real contest, although the vote around Leppington, Gregory Hills, Harrington Park and Gledswood Hills, in particular, will be interesting, in light of the state election next year with the new seat of Leppington which I only just live outside the boundary of, and Camden, which despite being notionally safe has the most underwhelming MP in its history in Peter Sidgreaves. I think he could be vulnerable if Chris Minns campaigns well and, most crucially, for Camden, there’s a good candidate from the ALP. Easier said than done, out here.

      I’ve had a look at the candidates so far, and Macarthur, to me, doesn’t seem to have a great quality of candidate to choose from. Freelander, despite being a seat-warmer at best, ironically, seems to be the best candidate, by far. If I’m voting based on candidate quality, then Freelander gets my vote. If I was in Hume, for example, then my vote would go to Angus Taylor, followed by the Independent, Dona, then the United Australia Party candidate.

      I dare say this will be Freelander’s last election as an MP, dependent on how the redistribution goes and the need to get new blood into the Federal Labor caucus.

    17. I welcome the array of comments here and thank those for their kind words and support, however, I intend to continue to contest Macarthur well into the future and I hope to be part of a Federal Labor Government and influence health policy. Based on Billy Hughes trajectory I figure I have another 20 years in Parliament to go, although I will always be a Labor Member.

    18. If the next redistribution goes the way some of us are anticipating, Werriwa will become the main seat based on Campbelltown LGA. In that case it may make sense for Freelander to switch to Werriwa, and Stanley to switch to Fowler.

    19. I read that public housing residents and single parent households swung away from Labor and even swung to the Coalition. Why did this happen?

      I looked at various polling booths in Macarthur (Claymore, Airds and Minto) and Werriwa (Macquarie Fields, Miller and Cartwright) and Blaxland (Villawood).The results all confirmed this and at some booths, a drop of over 15% in the primary vote. There were overall drops in Labor’s 2PP even with a swing to the Greens. Whilst this all happened, Labor increased their 2PP slightly in all three electorates.

      If there was anger over lockdowns, why did they take it out on Labor? And why did the Liberals get a swing to them?

      Here’s my theory. Scott Morrison’s Covid-era economic policies benefited lower class voters such as doubling of the Jobseeker rate, stimulus payments, free childcare etc. The borders were shut for two years and so many international students, backpackers and temp migrants went home and left behind low-skilled blue-collar and service industry jobs.

    20. @Votante I think these people like you said swung away from Labor to other parties such as the greens. I also agree that some working class voters may have voted for Libs after been happy with Covid-era economic policies such as jobseeker. The same can be said for Melbourne’s north and west, i don’t think lockdowns were the only reason for these places to swing away from Labor.

    21. @Votante the Libs were pretty economically left during the COVID era and effectively abandoning traditional fiscal conservatism, while doubling down instead on social and religious conservatism which may have helped them in the working class and public housing areas. This shift from economic conservatism to more social conservatism may explain why the wealthy inner city areas fell to the Teals while the Libs improved in the traditional Labor voting working class areas.

    22. Most of the SW Sydney seats had big gains to UAP and similar
      Based on my personal experience this area would be the “heartland” of anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist grifters. Low education levels and heritage of coming from corrupt/authoritarian regimes make them ripe pickings for this sort of mis-information

      I am guessing more of the UAP preferences flowed to Lib than in previous elections

    23. @Bazza. I get there are anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists and that explains the swings to the UAP and One Nation in SW Sydney. There were modest swings to the Liberals in public housing suburbs, despite an LNP state and LNP federal government. I suspect the swing voters voted on economic matters.

      @Dan M. I agree that the LNP were more competitive in working class and public housing areas this time.
      We saw that with pro-Liberal swings in the aforementioned suburbs and in Lyons, Bass and Braddon. Labor may have aliented parts of their voter base by being seen as a bit too “green”. It seems that the LNP going forward would like to appeal more to lower-income and working-class voters, rather than going too progressive to win back seats from the the Teals and Greens.


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