Paterson – Australia 2022

ALP 5.0%

Incumbent MP
Meryl Swanson, since 2016.

Paterson lies on the north coast of New South Wales immediately to the north of Newcastle. The seat covers Maitland, Raymond Terrace, the Port Stephens peninsula and Kurri Kurri.


A seat called Paterson in the northeastern Hunter was first created in 1949 and won by Allen Fairhall of the Liberal Party, who served as a minister in the Menzies, Holt and Gorton governments before retirement in 1969. He was succeeded by Frank O’Keefe of the Country Party, who held the seat until 1984, when it was abolished in the redistribution.

The seat was recreated in 1993, when it was won by Labor’s Bob Horne. In 1996 he was defeated by Bob Baldwin of the Liberal Party. Over the next two elections, the ‘two Bobs’ successively defeated each other, with Horne winning in 1998 and Baldwin in 2001. Horne retired after his 2001 defeat and Baldwin was re-elected four times.

The boundaries of Paterson were redrawn significantly in 2016, pulling the seat further into Maitland and away from the Great Lakes region. This change increased Labor’s notional two-party-preferred vote by almost 10% and made the seat a notional Labor seat.

Baldwin retired in 2016, and was succeeded by Labor’s Meryl Swanson. Swanson was re-elected in 2019.


  • Neil Turner (One Nation)
  • Brooke Vitnell (Liberal)
  • Meryl Swanson (Labor)
  • Angela Ketas (Informed Medical Options)
  • Louise Ihlein (Greens)
  • Sonia Bailey (Liberal Democrats)
  • Jason Olbourne (United Australia)
  • Assessment
    Paterson is a marginal seat.

    2019 result

    Candidate Party Votes % Swing
    Meryl Swanson Labor 44,288 41.1 -5.0
    Sachin Joshi Liberal 35,059 32.5 +1.0
    Neil Turner One Nation 15,269 14.2 +1.1
    Jan Davis Greens 7,439 6.9 +1.1
    Graham Burston United Australia Party 3,888 3.6 +3.6
    Christopher Vale Christian Democratic Party 1,876 1.7 -0.3
    Informal 6,694 5.8 +1.0

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    Candidate Party Votes % Swing
    Meryl Swanson Labor 59,348 55.0 -5.7
    Sachin Joshi Liberal 48,471 45.0 +5.7

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into six parts. Polling places in the Port Stephens council area have been split between Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay. Polling places around Kurri Kurri have been grouped together. Booths in the Newcastle council area and in the easternmost part of Maitland council area have been grouped as “central”, and the remainder of the Maitland area has been split between Maitland and East Maitland.

    Labor won five out of six areas, ranging from 55% in Raymond Terrace to 65.9% in Kurri Kurri. The Liberal Party won 51.8% in Nelson Bay.

    One Nation came third, with a primary vote ranging from 11.9% in Nelson Bay to 20.5% in Kurri Kurri.

    Voter group ON prim % ALP 2PP % Total votes % of votes
    Raymond Terrace 15.8 55.0 11,517 10.7
    Nelson Bay 11.9 48.2 11,054 10.3
    East Maitland 12.0 59.0 9,463 8.8
    Maitland 16.9 61.2 8,012 7.4
    Central 16.2 61.6 7,529 7.0
    Kurri Kurri 20.5 65.9 4,977 4.6
    Pre-poll 13.3 52.8 46,410 43.0
    Other votes 13.8 53.9 8,857 8.2

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

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    1. On paper this should be one of the easiest seats for the Libs to pick up. But I did notice the Hunter Valley votes >10% more Labor on a state level compared to federal results. If you adjust for the different TPP results, state and fed results are usually pretty similar, so the Hunter Valley massively stands out for the big difference. I do wonder if the Labor margin here might be at a bit of a low point.

      This is one of the few seats where Labor is doing worse than 2004 (once you adjust for redistributions). Their primary vote is still over 40% here so they do at least have a lot to work with. I guess right now I’ll predict a surprise Labor win.

    2. Further on my point above, it’s interesting that the Hunter Region seems to be broadly swinging against Labor federally but the exact opposite on a state level. Of the 9 seats in the Hunter Region on a state level: Upper Hunter, Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Swansea, Charlestown, Newcastle, Wallsend, Maitland and Port Stephens, only Swansea and Lake Macquarie did worse in 2023 than at any election from 1999-2007. 7/9 are sitting on higher margins than they ever had during the Carr/Iemma years.

      This is different to a lot of the other coal mining areas like Calare and Bathurst, Gippsland and Morwell and Narracan, and the QLD coal seats on a state and fed level, that are swinging against Labor on both a state and fed level. So I don’t think the Hunter Region is as done with Labor as the other regions.

    3. @Drake at the last state election the Liberals endorsed a last-minute candidate for Port Stephens when One Nation had already announced their candidate and since NSW has OPV and conservative voters tend to exhaust their preferences the vote was split between the Liberals and One Nation.

      There was no real campaign in Port Stephens despite it being a target seat because the candidate endorsement was rushed. This happened in some other seats too. Kiama comes to mind where Gareth Ward was re-elected as an independent (after he was expelled from the Liberal Party over pending criminal charges) and the Liberals endorsed Melanie Gibbons who was meant to be the retiring member for Holsworthy (Tina Ayyad was elected in Holsworthy, narrowly retaining the seat for the Liberals).

      Similarly, in Cessnock (an unwinnable seat), the Nationals candidate was disendorsed over racist, xenophobic and homophobic comments he previously made on social media and in that seat the Nationals actually finished fourth, which was a surprise even though they were expected to finish third anyway (Labor easily won, One Nation was second (as expected) and Legalise Cannabis (quite shockingly) came third). Then in Wyong (which is a winnable seat when the time is right), the Liberals disendorsed their candidate Matt Squires was also endorsed for racist and homophobic comments on social media.

      The NSW Coalition should start endorsing some candidates by the end of the year and all candidates should be endorsed by the end of 2026 (the next state election is in 2027). That way there won’t be the same fiasco there was last time.

    4. @Drake in 2019 that wasn’t the case. For example Newcastle was won by Labor with a TPP vote of 67.7% while in 2007 it was 67.8% (and yes I’m talking about the state seat not the federal seat).

    5. Even if you compare 2007 vs 2019 (an election where Labor did 4.3% worse)

      You get
      Lake Macquarie (7.6% worse in 2019, independent running now though)
      Swansea (.2% worse in 2019)
      Charlestown (2.2% worse in 2019)
      Newcastle (.1% worse in 2019)

      The other 5 seats: Upper Hunter, Cessnock, Wallsend, Maitland and Port Stephens, Labor did better in 2019 than 2007 despite doing 4.3% worse in NSW that election. Obviously some had different boundaries, and candidate factors, but this wasn’t just a 2023 thing.

    6. I would say it has something to do with the members’ personal votes. If the Liberals were to win any seat in Newcastle it would be Swansea unless Greg Piper retired in Lake Macquarie, yet despite this the Liberals only got 52% TPP in Swansea back in 2011, yet in Charlestown they got 9.9%, which meant that more campaigning and less scandals could’ve saved the Liberals in Charlestown.

      I think the Liberals could (in the future) win Maitland back. I think they could’ve won it in 2015 if Robyn Parker didn’t retire and/or the Liberal campaign there was bigger.

    7. Even if you compare Upper Hunter (which does have a Nat incumbent) with the booths within Hunter (no Labor incumbent and no Nat incumbent) Labor is still doing better on a state level. They easily won the Singleton booths in Upper Hunter but lost them in the seat of Hunter. Very curious in just how much better Labor does on a state level vs fed.

      Either federally the Hunter Region will start reverting back to normal, or on a state level Labor will start to see massive swings against them here.

    8. @Drake the reason Labor does better there at state level is because there is little difference between NSW Labor and the NSW Liberals on climate policy, as opposed to at the federal level.

    9. @Scart I agree. The NSW Coalition and NSW Labor have the same climate policies so these voters go to Labor economic and business issues whereas on the federal level Labor is a lot more progressive on environmental issues than the Coalition.

      But this doesn’t really help really urbanised seats like Newcastle. Labor does roughly the same in Newcastle as it does in Charlestown, Newcastle and Wallsend combined. Paterson and Shortland are where the difference is.

      Lake Macquarie is also uncompetitive because of Greg Piper. The Liberals usually do well in some suburbs there like Catherine Hill Bay, Coal Point, Valentine and even Warners Bay. They are also usually quite competitive in Port Stephens which is a typical marginal seat.

    10. @Drake you’re also wrong about Singleton:

      Labor TPP in Singleton (NSW 2023):
      * Singleton EVC: 55.64%
      * Singleton Heights Public: 61.23%
      * Singleton High: 61.50%
      * Singleton Public: 49.15%

      So one of those booths is a Nationals booth. The biggest booth was the EVC which Labor narrowly won.

      Labor TPP in Singleton (federal 2022):
      * Singleton Heights Public: 54.57%
      * Singleton High: 48.74%
      * Singleton PPVC: 46.30%
      * Singleton Public: 43.20%

      So only one of those booths is a Labor booth.

      Singleton is a coal-mining town like Muswellbrook. Singleton Heights is basically a big suburb of Singleton.

    11. Scart is 100% correct. The main divide between Labor and Liberal in NSW is not social policy and rightly or wrongly it seems that NSW State Libs have made the calculation not to risk their affluent heartland in the North Shore, Northern Beaches and Vaucluse to potentially win Labor heartland seats rather they focus on Service delivery etc.


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