Dobell – Australia 2022

ALP 1.5%

Incumbent MP
Emma McBride, since 2016.

NSW Central Coast. Dobell covers most of Wyong Shire and parts of the City of Gosford. Dobell covers Lake Tuggerah and the suburbs surrounding it, including Wyong, Bateau Bay, The Entrance and Toukley, while those parts of Wyong Shire from Budgewoi Lake north are not part of the electorate. The seat also covers a small part of the City of Gosford, extending as far as Wyoming and the northern parts of Terrigal.

Dobell was created in 1984 when the House of Representatives was expanded. It was first won by Michael Lee (ALP). Lee held the seat by largely safe margins for over a decade, becoming a federal minister from the 1993 election until Paul Keating’s defeat in 1996, when Lee came close to losing Dobell.

Lee served as a senior member of the Labor frontbench from 1996 to 2001, when he was defeated by Ken Ticehurst (LIB). Lee went on to run as the ALP candidate for Lord Mayor of Sydney in 2004 and served on the City of Sydney council from 2004 to 2008 after losing the lord mayoralty to Clover Moore.

Ticehurst won the seat twice before losing in 2007 to Labor candidate Craig Thomson, then Assistant Secretary of the Health Services Union. Thomson was re-elected in 2010.

In his second term, Thomson was accused of improper use of his HSU credit card before entering Parliament. Thomson was suspended from the ALP in 2012 and finished his term as an independent.

Dobell was won in 2013 by Liberal candidate Karen McNamara, with Thomson coming a distant fifth.

McNamara only held Dobell for one term, losing to Labor’s Emma McBride in 2016. McBride was re-elected in 2019.


  • Geoff Barnes (Fusion)
  • Dean Mackin (United Australia)
  • Michael Feneley (Liberal)
  • Cath Connor (Greens)
  • Martin Stevenson (One Nation)
  • Eliot Metherell (Liberal Democrats)
  • Emma McBride (Labor)
  • Assessment
    Dobell is a very marginal seat and could well flip if the Liberal campaign goes well.

    2019 result

    Emma McBride Labor 42,09341.5-1.4
    Jilly Pilon Liberal 41,32640.7+2.9
    Scott Rickard Greens 7,5797.5+1.7
    Aaron Harpley-CarrUnited Australia Party5,4115.3+5.3
    Gregory StephensonIndependent3,1763.1+1.9
    Paula GrundyChristian Democratic Party1,8681.8-0.8

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    Emma McBride Labor 52,24451.5-3.3
    Jilly Pilon Liberal 49,20948.5+3.3

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into four parts:

    • Central – Berkeley Vale, Chittaway Bay, Tuggerah, Wyong
    • North-East – Gorokan, Toukley, Tuggerawong
    • South-East – Bateau Bay, Killarney Vale, The Entrance, Wyoming
    • West – rural areas away from the coast.

    Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in the three more populous areas, ranging from 50.5% in the south-east to 56.5% in the north-east. The Liberal Party won 54.1% in the west.

    Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Other votes8.649.111,18211.0

    Election results in Dobell 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. my post from the 2019 election
      Dobell will be one of the most interesting “toss ups” this time. McBride will probably hang on but this time it might be ultra close. In the interests of a modest post i’ll give an update later

      winediamond April 26, 2018 at 11:04 am
      McBride greatly benefited from the personal profile of her father, who had been the state MP for The Entrance, for over 2 decades. She also received the preferences from One Nation. There was also a crucial few % gained from the 2015 re distribution.
      It would be surprising if she had not built a significant personal vote by now. McBride is an interesting example of a political dynasty. She clearly wanted the job, even having grown up seeing the sacrifices her father made.
      This is a very different pathway to people from the political machine, advisers, operatives,staffers, & such. This is because representation is about people, not numbers.
      Consequently i hope McBride is given a ministry in the next govt.
      It is worth emphasising that Labor is extremely fortunate, that the voters of Dobell appear to have forgotten the Craig Thompson debacle. I wouldn’t, & i Haven’t. Particularly how much public money was spent pursuing the worthless prick.

    2. I have heard she is very good local mp with a welcoming personality… which makes a difference in a close election.Dobell is a labor inclined marginal seat…which can go very close in a bad election

    3. The biggest reason McNamara lost in 2016 was her support for Abbott (Same with Griggs). You can’t expect to hold an extremely marginal seat by backing an extremely popular PM and leader. So good riddance that she lost in 2016.

    4. Daniel
      That is absurd
      1/ visible attractive ALP candidate, with strong local connections
      2/ Prevailing political trend
      3/ ON preferencing Labor
      4/ unfavourable re distribution
      5 daylight
      6/ more
      111/ abbot
      really move on

    5. The Liberals still haven’t chosen a candidate for this seat. Obviously an election won’t be held this year, but you have to wonder if it will be March either considering the Liberals slow approach to this marginal seat. It was reported in the Australian potential candidates for the Liberals in Dobell include former test cricketer Nathan Bracken, along with Michael Feneley, a cardiologist who has twice run unsuccessfully in Kingsford Smith, and Jemima Gleeson, owner of a chain of coffee shops.

      A bit of trivia about this seat. This seat belonged to the rising star of the Labor party Michael Lee before he lost this seat in 2001. It may have been Lee not Mark Latham leading the Labor party to the election in 2004 if he had survived. Lee was considered a potential leader. Lee would have likely been deputy to Simon Crean after the 2001 election if he retained his seat.

    6. I think the result was that Dobell was super close…if I remember right at the time of the caucus ballot Dobell had not been decided and Mr Lee was permitted to vote in that ballot.

    7. In 1996, Michael Lee only survived by 117 votes, held on in 1998 and then lost by 500 or so in 2001. He was seen very much as a rising star of the NSW Labor right and then largely disappeared.

    8. How did he win in 1996 but lose in 2001 which was a much better year than 1996? Was there demographic changes here or a redistribution that hurt Labor here prior to 2001?

      This seat has a hells chance of freezing over going to the coalition under Morrison or Dutton.

    9. A redistribution before 2001 made Dobell weaker for Labor. It would have been lost in 1996 on the 2001 boundaries.

      Dobell went Liberal under Howard and Abbott and was extremely close (on more pro-Labor boundaries) in 2019. Whereas Labor won it reasonably comfortably in 2016 when Turnbull was Liberal leader. It seems to me it’s actually much more likely to be won by the Libs under a Morrison/Dutton type than a Turnbull type.

    10. Would this seat be more of a sea change seat or more of a Howard Battler seat. if it is the latter it is a potential gain for the Libs at the next election.

    11. It would seem that parts of Dobell (the areas west of the lakes – Wyong, Gorokan, Charmhaven) would be very receptive to One Nation. My feeling is that the demographics of much of Dobell would be similar to Longman (I am familiar with the Central Coast but not the latter). Some of these areas also swung quite heavily to the the Libs last time. The odd thing is that One Nation did not run here last time and only have intermittently over the years. If One Nation did run here and got a vote of 10-15% (possibly higher) they could shake things up. That could get uncomfortable for Emma McBride if they directed preferences to the Libs and the preference flow was fairly tight.

    12. This like other alp held nsw marginals depends on the calibre of the candidates and the electoral climate… in a close election can be effect the margin by 1 to 3%. If a result like 2013 will be difficult to win most likely lost.

    13. Nimalan
      More of a battler seat really. The biggest booth swings were in mostly strong labor booths.
      Perhaps not as polarised, or diverse as Longman ? No Bribe Island ?

      There seems to be a tone of “personality” focus developing, & coming through in recent comments.
      The volume, & quantity of anti Morrison commentary seems almost overwhelming- (everywhere !). Dobell is a good example of a seat where all the political noise will have little effect.
      In the end it will be about a binary choice between Scomo, & Albo. Because Albo is offering nothing, that places the under3% margin seats in play (to whatever debatable degree). Dobell only has a1.5% margin & the anti -labor momentum in 2019 was massive (in Dobell).
      Having said all of that McBride probably has about an 80% chance of holding. A lot can still change.

    14. Thanks WD, Redistributed and MQ, from a demographic point of view then the Libs have a shot at picking the seat up. I am not sure who the Lib candidate will be and if Emma McBride has a personal vote in this seat.

    15. Nimalan
      The choices for Dobell for the Libs are:
      Nathan Bracken, former Australian cricketer and independent candidate in 2013.
      Michael Feneley, cardiologist and unsuccessful Lib candidate in Kingsford Smith twice
      Jemima Gleeson, an owner of a chain of coffee shops

    16. Nimalan
      I think that Emma McBride is quite embedded in the seat – her father was the local state MP for many years. I believe she developed her own standing rather than a seat being handed to her like Kelly Hoare or several other MPs over the years in the Hunter Region. If the government was travelling well, she may be a tad worried, but in 2022, much more likely to win than not. On the Lib side, Nathan Bracken has a high profile as a former cricketer and Micheal Feneley managed over two elections a 10.5% swing to the Libs in Kingsford Smith so he must be a reasonable campaigner.

    17. redistributed
      Do you really think that Emma McBride shares your sanguine view of her incumbency !?
      I do wonder if she feels “Embedded”!? I wonder if she shares your’e view that the govt is so appalling that she should not even be “a tad worried”!!?
      Where we agree is that her personal vote saved her in 2019, & the votes she gathered in liberal booths were probably the difference, almost numerically to the dot. If Emma was going so well (electorally) why does she spend so much time sitting behind Albo ?

    18. From todays OZ

      Former Labor MP Craig Thomson arrested over alleged migration fraud
      Craig Thomson has previously avoided imprisonment and fined $25,000 after misusing union money on prostitutes and fine dining.
      Craig Thomson has previously avoided imprisonment and fined $25,000 after misusing union money on prostitutes and fine dining. Picture: Nicole Garmston

      Former federal MP Craig Thomson has been arrested by Australian Federal Police in relation to alleged migration fraud.
      The one-time Labor parliamentarian was picked up in the central NSW coast town of Gosford after a long-running investigation.

      In July, Australian Federal Police officers searched Mr Thomson’s home at Wamberal, near Gosford in a multi-agency investigation that also involved a search warrant in Queensland.
      Thomson became a federal Labor MP in 2007 and held the seat of Dobell on the NSW Central Coast until 2013.

      In 2014 he was sentenced by a Victorian court to three months in jail, with a further nine months suspended, for stealing from the Health Services Union in his previous role as the union’s national secretary.On appeal, he avoided imprisonment and was fined $25,000. He had misused the union’s money on prostitutes and fine dining.

      In a statement, the AFP confirmed they had arrested a 57-year-old man for “allegedly being the primary facilitator of a multi-million dollar migration fraud”.

      READ MORE:Wife of disgraced ex-MP takes out AVO|‘Not a fit and proper person’|Ex-MP Craig Thomson embroiled in fraud probe
      The AFP said it led a multi-agency investigation, which also involved Australian Border Force (ABF), AUSTRAC, the Australian Taxation Office and Department of Home Affairs, and “found evidence of an alleged scheme intended to defraud legitimate visa programs”.

      “It was triggered by an ABF investigation into allegations of significant visa and migration fraud, dating to August 2019,’’ the statement said.

      “The man allegedly facilitated more than 130 fraudulent visa applications – focusing on the food service and regional farm worker industries – over four years, resulting in more than $2 million being gained from this activity.

      “A total of nine search warrants were executed by AFP and ABF officers in relation to this investigation on 21 July 2021, at premises in Wamberal, Terrigal and Copacabana on the NSW Central Coast, in the Sydney suburbs of Revesby (two locations) and Rockdale (two locations), and at East Maitland, NSW, and Bundaberg West, Queensland. Additional search warrants were executed today on the man’s Terrigal residence today, and at a Tuggerah premises.”

      Mr Thomson is expected to appear in Gosford Magistrates Court later today.
      He was charged with providing false documents and false or misleading information relating to non-citizens, as well as other offences under the Migration Act.
      He faces up to 10 years in jail.
      In the statement, AFP Commander of Investigations, Eastern Command, Craig Bellis said the charges laid in the matter involved a serious breach of public trust.

      “The alleged offences in this matter involved the exploitation of Federal Government programs designed to assist Australian businesses, and it is incumbent on the AFP to investigate and prosecute instances of large-scale fraud against Australian taxpayers,” he said.

    19. Was Craig Thomsons 4.00% vote in the 2013 election, the lowest ever vote for a sitting MP? There must be a psephological uber nerd out there that knows the answer to that!!

    20. My immediate thought would have been Keith Wright, but he in fact got 6% primary vote…..somewhat disturbing given the nature of his scandals….

    21. The demographics change in this seat is pushing it slightly more towards Labor, especially as a lot of the young families and retirees from out west set up within the Central Coast. It isn’t so much an impact within Robertson, as there are still solid Liberal Voting areas around Terrigal but, the further North you go, the weaker for the Liberal Party it gets.

      WD is right – genuine battler seat but one that has been trending towards Labor, to the point where I think the Liberal Party only wins this in bad election cycles for Labor

    22. Hawkeye_au
      “The demographics change in this seat is pushing it slightly more towards Labor, ”
      I actually disagree. i sense it’s going the other way. Enrolment has increased a couple of thousand, but also i’d say socio econ is rising, with more mortgage families, wealthier retirees etc.
      Tis area is quite connected to the Hunter with lots of power, & mining workers.
      McBRIDE has also made a big mistake getting on the CDC ginormous lie campaign train. Dumb really dumb. has letterdrpped most of the seat.
      Still labor hold but really close.
      cheers wd

    23. Connected with the news around Hughes and Warringah, Michael Feneley is expected to now be endorsed as the Liberal Candidate, as per the proposal put forward by Phillip Ruddick.

    24. This will be Feneley’s 5th attempt to get into Federal Politics. After running for Kingsford-Smith on 3 occasions and also putting his hand-up for the 2018 Wentworth By-Election.
      Was very unlucky not to win in 2013 and also in retrospect probably would’ve been a better member the Dave Sharma.
      He also contested the 2011 state election for the seat of Maroubra.
      Fairly good candidate on paper.
      McBride will be hard to beat though

    25. LJ Davidson –
      This would actually be Feneley’s sixth attempt to get into Federal politics as he was on the Coalition Senate ticket in 2019 where he was placed last on it and hence he had no chance of being elected.


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