Luke Hartsuyker, since 2001.
Cowper lies on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, stretching from Kempsey to Maclean. The seat covers the towns of South West Rocks, Nambucca Heads, Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and areas near Maclean and Grafton.
Cowper’s boundaries have remained almost entirely the same. A small areas south of Grafton was transferred to the neighbouring seat of Page.
Cowper was an original federation seat, and has almost always been held by conservative parties, with the Country/National Party holding it for all but two years since 1919.
The seat was first held by Francis Clarke of the Protectionist Party, who was defeated by Free Trader Henry Lee in 1903. Lee was defeated by John Thomson in 1906. Thomson first held the seat for the Protectionist Party and held the seat for successive non-Labor parties for the next 13 years.
In 1919, Thomson, then representing the Nationalists, was defeated by Earle Page, who joined the Country Party the next year. Page held the seat for over 40 years.
Page became Country Party leader in 1921 and led the party into government for the first time in 1922, forcing the senior Nationalists to drop Billy Hughes as Prime Minister. He served as Treasurer in the Bruce government until 1929. He also served as a minister in the second and third terms of the Lyons government, and served as acting Prime Minister for three weeks upon Lyons’ death.
Page refused to serve in a government led by Lyons’ deputy Robert Menzies, but the Country Party rebelled and replaced Page with a new leader. Page returned to government in 1940 as a minister, and again served as a minister from 1949 to 1956. Page continued to serve in Parliament until the 1961 election. At that election, he was too ill to campaign and fell into a coma before the election. In a surprise upset, Page was defeat by the ALP’s Frank McGuren, and he died days later.
McGuren only held the seat for one term, which was the only term the ALP has ever held Cowper. He was defeated in 1963 by the Country Party’s Ian Robinson. Robinson transferred to the new seat of Page in 1984, and Garry Nehl won Cowper for the Nationals. Nehl retired in 2001, and was succeeded by Luke Hartsuyker. At the 2007 election, Hartsuyker’s margin was cut to 1.2%, making it a marginal electorate. This took place despite the ALP changing candidates late in the piece, when John Fitzroy was replaced by Paul Sefky, over the protests of local branches.
- Paul Sekfy (Labor)
- Dominic King (Greens)
- John Arkan (Independent)
- Deborah Lions (Christian Democratic Party)
- Luke Hartsuyker (Nationals)
Cowper is the only remaining National Party seat on the north coast of NSW, formerly a party stronghold, after the ALP gained Richmond in 2004 and Page in 2007, and Lyne was lost to an independent in a 2008 by-election. Changing demographics have made seats like Cowper incredibly vulnerable to the ALP. The ALP only made Cowper a priority late in the 2007 campaign, and a more concerted campaign could push the National Party off the NSW coast.
|Leon A Belgrave||LDP||491||0.58||+0.58|
2007 two-candidate-preferred result
Results do not take into consideration effects of the redistribution.
Cowper covers five local government areas: three are completely contained within Cowper, with other two overlapping. I have divided booths between these five local government areas. Since Coffs Harbour LGA covers half the voters in the electorate, I have divided booths in Coffs Harbour between those in the towns of Coffs Harbour and Sawtell from those in the rural parts of the council area.
About one third of the seat’s voters live in the town of Coffs Harbour and the nearby town of Sawtell. The Nationals won booths in Maclean, while the ALP won most booths between Maclean and Coffs Harbour, including Woolgoolga and Sandy Beach. The Nationals won almost every seat in the Coffs-Sawtell urban area, although none by particularly large margins.
The ALP won all booths in the Bellingen area on a two-party preferred basis, although this came off a very high Greens vote (24%). Indeed, the Greens came first on primaries in four booths in the Bellingen area.
Booths in the Nambucca area were divided between the two major parties, and the Nationals only won the overall vote for the area by 12 votes. The Nationals won a majority of booths in Kempsey LGA, including those in the town of Kempsey itself.
|Voter group||GRN %||NAT 2CP %||Total votes||% of votes|