Bathurst – NSW 2011

ALP 13.0%

Incumbent MP
Gerard Martin, since 1999.

Central West NSW. Bathurst covers the major centres of Bathurst and Lithgow, and all or part of Bathurst, Blayney, Cabonne, Lithgow, Mid-Western and Oberon local government areas.

Bathurst has existed as an electoral district since 1859. It existed as a single-member district for all but three elections in the 1920s, when it expanded to be a multi-member district elected by proportional representation.

The seat was a marginal seat between the Labor Party and the Country Party in the middle part of the 20th century, but since 1981 it has been dominated by the ALP, who have won it at all elections except for 1988, when it was won by the Liberal Party.

When Bathurst was restored as a single-member district in 1927, it was won by the ALP’s Gus Kelly, who had first won one of Bathurst’s seats in 1925. Kelly held the seat until 1932, when he lost to the Country Party’s Gordon Wilkins. At the next election in 1935, Kelly won the seat back. Kelly served as a minister for the entire length of the Labor state government from 1941 to 1965, and held Bathurst until his death in 1967.

The 1967 by-election was won by the Country Party’s Clive Osborne, who won a three-cornered contest on Liberal preferences. Osborne held the seat throughout the 1970s.

The redistribution before the 1981 election saw the strong Labor town of Lithgow moved from Blue Mountains to Bathurst. The sitting Labor Member for Blue Mountains, Mick Clough, moved with the town of Lithgow, and defeated Osborne’s re-election bid in 1981. Clough had held Blue Mountains since 1978.

Clough held Bathurst until 1988, when he lost to the Liberal Party’s David Berry. Clough won the seat back in 1991, and held it until his retirement in 1999.

Bathurst was won in 1999 by former Lithgow mayor Gerard Martin, running for the ALP. He won re-election in 2003 and 2007.


Political situation
Bathurst is a strong seat for the ALP, and the 13% margin could be enough for the ALP to retain the seat. The area has shown a tendency to fall to the Coalition in landslide elections.

2007 result

Gerard MartinALP23,44353.4-0.8
Susan WilliamsNAT13,49630.8-0.6
Ray ThompsonIND4,81611.0+11.0
Sebria LawrenceGRN2,1244.8-1.4

2007 two-candidate-preferred result

Gerard MartinALP25,19563.0-0.2
Susan WilliamsNAT14,78137.0+0.2

Booth breakdown
Booths in Bathurst have been divided into four areas. Booths in the two main centres of Bathurst and Lithgow have been grouped. The rural parts of the seat have been divided between those south of Bathurst and Lithgow and those north.

The ALP’s margin varied from 71% in Lithgow, 67% in the north, 63% in Bathurst, and less than 53% in the south. Independent candidate Ray Thompson, a Lithgow councillor, polled over 21% in Lithgow, more than double his vote in any other area.


Polling booths in Bathurst at the 2007 state election. Bathurst in orange, lithgow in blue, North in red, South in green.


Voter groupIND %ALP 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes11.362.19,40221.4
Two-party-preferred votes in Bathurst at the 2007 state election.
Primary votes for Ray Thompson in Bathurst at the 2007 state election.
Two-party-preferred votes in the town of Bathurst at the 2007 state election.
Primary votes for Ray Thompson in the town of Bathurst at the 2007 state election.
Two-party-preferred votes in the town of Lithgow at the 2007 state election.
Primary votes for Ray Thompson in the town of Lithgow at the 2007 state election.


  1. Fear of power privatization worked in Labor’s favour here in the past it wont help now! Some regional areas have moved towards Labor such as north coast but some of the old blue-collar former Labor heartlands have gone other way Bathurst and Broken Hill.

  2. I don’t think the Labor Party has any chance of retaining this seat in the current environment, particulary with the sitting member retiring. This is the sort of seat the Labor could hold in a narrow election loss, although not in a landslide.

  3. Lithgow & Bathurst make this normally a Labor seat…….. but a change is possible …… this seat i think is wholly in the Federal seat of Calare…… which had a poor result for Labor esp in Bathurst

  4. At the 2008 Bathurst council election Paul Toole’s group gained 53.5% of the primary vote. If he can translate that into state election votes it would certainly place him in a strong position.

    The Greens have just announced their candidate, university lecturer Diane Solomon Westerhuis.

  5. This has only been a safe ALP seat since 1999. Before that, it was one of the most marginal seats in the state. The liberals nearly won in 1984, did win it in 1988, then narrowly lost it in 1991 and 1995. This year it will be very, very close.

  6. Osborne was very popular, Labor was surpised not to win 1978 when they should have done so on the statewide swing, in 1981 Osborne managed a large swing in 1981 but not enough. Hence swing to Labor in 1984. Labor did badly federally here, coal industry fears in Lithgow?

  7. Im from Lithgow and locals are trying to work out if Federal Labor’s announcement of a Carbon Tax will affect them. Especially their jobs. It really has scared locals it will be interesting in the Newcastle and Camden as well. I know this is plucking at straws but would a Federal policy affect a State Election further.

  8. I was out in Bathurst today (based in Syd and drove through Lithgow) and was amazed that there was virtually no posters (only the National candidate) or other elction information floating around (admitidly I did not have access to electronic media). The people I was visiting did not mention the election. So I can only conclude that Labor has conceded Bathurst which would be strange for a “key” seat.

  9. I live in this seat and 20% swing is likely, traditional Labor voters are not happy with things here in my electorate. I come from working class background and old family members whom have never voted anything but Labor are saying things are grim and Labor will pay the price.

  10. drass – polling was already saying that the Nats would win this. The last week will only make the margin greater.

  11. DB I know and I hear you but our family are traditional hard workers and have always voted Labor, but are considering to change UNBELIEVABLE my grandfather would roll over in his grave !!!

  12. drass – change can be a good thing. Ask yourself, has the Keneally Govt really helped you? Then ask, if you make Bathurst a swinging seat this time, could the residents of Bathurst have a voice and benefit from it?

    My answer to the second question is a definite yes, so I reckon it’s worth a shot with Nationals, don’t you?

    Sometimes people just need a good kick up the ass, and this is the time. Don’t worry, many will be joining you this time.

  13. Little Timmy O’Toole will win this in a canter. the ALP lost this seat in December 2008 when they announced power privatisation.

    Also, most mine workers are now either contractors, sub-contractors or work for them – hardly the core Labor vote that once existed when coal was king. There are more people employed in retail in Lithgow than mining these days. The electricty generation sector is also aging and not as big as it was.

    People may be interested in the history of why Lithgow has so many booths. It dates back to the Chifley v Lang split in the thirties. Chifley organised for there to be many booths knowing he could staff them and that the NSW ALP would struggle. It almost worked. As a result a town of about 8,000 votes has eight or nine booths.

  14. A fourth candidate here is independent Richard Trounson from Kandos. I couldn’t find further details about him.

  15. I don’t think anyone isn’t surprised. Seriously, did the Labor candidate strangle an adorable baby kitten in the main street of Bathurst live on the 6 o’clock news or something? 36% swings don’t happen, ever.

  16. This is a new Australian record isn’t it? Breaks the previous mark set by the Penrith By-Election!

  17. Re DB – nice try but Bathurst will have to join with all the other seats that have turfed out ALP members in the queue for special treatment – there are so many of them now that not every body will get the same level of attention that you might have hoped would result from trying to make your seat marginal.

    Looks like you were too successful – it now looks like a safe seat for the Nationals and will be treated accordlngly. The elctors of Monaro were much smarter – there seat truly is marginal and will get attention accordingly.

  18. Doug – mate, there’s a bit of federal implication in this seat too. Don’t know the federal seat, but according to my sources the carbon tax hit home here too. Hence why its 30’odd. I knew this was on a few weeks ago.

  19. If the carbon tax is behind the size of the swing, which at an aggregate state level, (which I don’t really believe is the case, as the polls at a state level have had the ALP as cactus for over twelve months) but accepting for the sake of the argument that they had an impact on the size of the swing – then we need an explanation as to why the cabon tax mattered intensely in Bathurst, hardly at all in Monaro (7% swing against a popular local member of half the state average) and nowhere at all in Wagga Wagga where there was a swing against the Coalition.

    Moving from regional NSW to the metropolitan area then we need an explanation as to why people in Pittwater and Manly on the figures didn’t give a hoot about the carbon tax.

    Once you head down that route then the only answer is that it had a highly variable impact and that it wasn’t an overriding state issue at all.

    When you get down to the individual electorate level and look at the differing szes and types of swings the impression I get is that the story is of rejection fo the Government – the size of the rejection and the way it was manifested varied depending upon a range of factors including whether a popular sitting member was retiring, the political make up of the electorate and options available in the electorate and the quality of the local campaigns.

  20. Doug – never suggested or intended to suggest that the Co2 tax was a general State issue. I don’t think it was generally. But I reckon it was in many regional areas given that the ALP 2PP in the regions was worse than the regional polls 3 or 4 weeks ago suggested (and private polling I held).

    Let’s not be under any misunderstanding: the carbon dioxide tax will hurt the regions much more than it will hurt the cities. This is because flow on costs through transport etc won’t be rebated at all. I don’t intend to discuss that any more as this is not the forum.

    I’d also suggest Messrs Oakeshott and Windsor wouldn’t be full of confidence either. If they listen to their constituents, they won’t be supporting any tax on carbon dioxide until there is one agreed worldwide. If anyone thinks there isn’t a message for Oakeshott and Windsor here, then they have their heads firmly in the sand.

  21. Oakshott and Windsor “unfortunately” have the conviction that something needs to be done to move australia along the path to responding to climate change and are likely to act on that conviction. They are now in a position with nothing to lose – there best chance for re-election now is not to change course but to act on rpinciple and see a carbon tax through to implementation – along with the compensation package and take their risks at the polls in two years time.

    If they change course on this now they will lose support for doing just what they have criticsed the major parties for doing.

  22. Doug – you or I can make partisan comments as much as we like, but any politician is there to represent their constituents interests and nothing else. And I’d suggest those MP’s would not be representing the wishes of their electorates by supporting a Co2 tax. Simple. It doesn’t matter what you or I think of a Carbon Tax. Windsor and Oakeshott have no duty to act in the ‘national’ interest. They are not a party that can govern. Their duty is to their local constituents only. On that basis, I reckon they won’t support it personally (particularly given that Gillard said she wouldn’t put it then and now she will). These two need to take a leaf out of Bob Katter’s independence guide. Katter said there is no way he would support this given the devastation it would cause his local constituency.

    If I was either of them, I’d be walking around with body guards if I supported it in parliament. It doesn’t matter what they do. I have a recent poll which suggests that Windsor would get 35% of the vote and Oakeshott would get 12%.

  23. Doug

    The carbon tax is going to do nothing. All the carbon tax that has been set up in Europe for example has done nothing. All it does is increase the CO2 emitsion in other parts of the world and ensure the government raise a lot more tax, waste a lot of it in beauracracy and then bribe special interest groups to keep people happy.

    None of it is going to stop more carbon going into the air, to reach a point where CO2 will start reducing in the atmosphere, we will need to talk about increasing trees and reducing the memmals in the world

  24. Tim Flannery said on national Radio last Friday that if all countries stop producing CO2 tomorrow, then we may see a slight reduction in the temperature in around 1,000 years.

    As an ALP supporter, I am totally against this tax as for

    1) You don’t promise to the voting public that you will not introduce a tax just prior to an election, then when elected change your mind & introduce it

    2) There is not anywhere near enough evidence that this tax will in anyway improve the environment

    3) We cannot put a tax on Australia while we export Coal to countries that do not & have not indictaed that they will reduce CO2, to me this is hypocritical!

    I was all for the Flood Levy that the Govt. introduced, this was a necessity, The Carbon Tax is only there to keep the Greens happy.

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