Hunter – Australia 2022

ALP 3.0%

Incumbent MP
Joel Fitzgibbon, since 1996.

Geography
Hunter covers inland parts of the Hunter region, including western parts of the City of Lake Macquarie, a majority of Cessnock council area, as well as the entirety of the Muswellbrook and Singleton council areas. A majority of the seat’s population lies in the Lake Macquarie council area, with the bulk of the remainder in the Cessnock area.

History
Hunter is an original Federation seat, and has been held by Labor for most of its history. The seat was first won by Prime Minister Edmund Barton in 1901. Barton resigned as Prime Minister and Member for Hunter in 1903 to take a seat on the High Court, and Hunter was won at the following election by Free Trader Frank Liddell. Liddell held the seat at the 1906 election, but lost in 1910.

The seat was won in 1910 by the ALP’s Matthew Charlton. Charlton served as the ALP’s leader from 1922 to 1928, retiring at the 1928 election. He was succeeded by Rowley James, elected as a Labor candidate. James held the seat for thirty years, although he served as a member of Jack Lang’s breakaway party from 1931 to 1936, when he was readmitted to the ALP.

James retired in 1958, and was replaced by Labor leader HV Evatt. Evatt had previously held the Sydney seat of Barton, but judged it to be too marginal and moved to the safer Hunter.

Evatt resigned as Labor leader and Member for Hunter in 1960, and the by-election was won by Bert James, son of Rowley. The younger James held Hunter for twenty years, retiring in 1980.

He was succeeded by the ALP’s Bob Brown. Brown moved to the new seat of Charlton in 1984, and was succeeded in Hunter by former Mayor of Cessnock, Eric Fitzgibbon. Fitzgibbon held the seat for twelve years before retiring in 1996.

The seat was won in 1996 by Joel Fitzgibbon, son of the previous MP. Fitzgibbon junior has held Hunter since 1996. He served as Defence Minister from 2007 to 2009, and briefly served as a minister again in 2013.

The redistribution prior to the 2016 election effectively merged the seat of Hunter with the Lake Macquarie electorate of Charlton, which was another reasonably safe Labor seat. Hunter expanded into the Lake Macquarie area to take in most of Charlton, while losing rural areas to the north and west of the seat. A slight majority of the seat’s population was drawn from Charlton.

Fitzgibbon was re-elected in the redrawn seat, and won again in 2019. Charlton MP Pat Conroy, who had held the seat for one term, shifted to the neighbouring seat of Shortland.

Candidates
Sitting Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon is not running for re-election.

  • Janet Murray (Greens)
  • Dan Repacholi (Labor)
  • Victoria Davies (Animal Justice)
  • Stuart Bonds (Independent)
  • Cathy Townsend (Informed Medical Options)
  • Geoff Passfield (United Australia)
  • James Thomson (Nationals)
  • Dale McNamara (One Nation)
  • Scott Laruffa (Independent)
  • Assessment
    Hunter is a marginal seat after a large swing in 2019. The seat could well be in play, but there is also a long history of the seat being won by Labor. The big question is whether the swing in 2019 is the beginning of a trend, with Labor support collapsing in a seat where coal is a major factor, or if Hunter will continue it’s long trend of voting to the left of the state at every election since 1987.

    2019 result

    CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
    Joel Fitzgibbon Labor 38,33137.6-14.2
    Josh Angus Nationals 23,94223.5-2.9
    Stuart BondsOne Nation22,02921.6+21.6
    Janet Murray Greens 7,0076.9-0.2
    Paul DaviesUnited Australia Party4,4074.3+4.3
    James MurphyAnimal Justice3,2673.2+3.2
    Richard StrettonChristian Democratic Party2,3562.3-1.1
    Max BoddySocialist Equality Party6870.7+0.7
    Informal10,0499.0+1.1

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
    Joel Fitzgibbon Labor 54,05053.0-9.5
    Josh Angus Nationals 47,97647.0+9.5

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into six parts. A majority of the seat’s population is contained within the City of Lake Macquarie, and these areas have been split into central, north and south. The remaining booths were grouped according to local government boundaries: Cessnock, Muswellbrook and Singleton.

    Labor won a majority of the election-day vote in all but one of the six areas, with a vote ranging from 50.2% in southern Lake Macquarie to 61.6% in northern Lake Macquarie. The Nationals won 52.2% in Singleton, and also won the pre-poll vote.

    One Nation polled strongly in Hunter, with a primary vote ranging from 17.2% in central Lake Macquarie to 25.5% in Muswellbrook.

    Voter groupON prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Cessnock22.755.212,53712.3
    Lake Macquarie Central17.258.111,95311.7
    Lake Macquarie North21.561.610,65210.4
    Lake Macquarie South21.350.27,6147.5
    Singleton25.447.85,4395.3
    Muswellbrook25.551.13,8473.8
    Pre-poll22.349.540,99840.2
    Other votes19.055.28,9868.8

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

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    82 COMMENTS

    1. So my theory of when Political Leaders or former PMs spend time in seats it is a good indicator that the seats are in trouble (if held) or can be won (if not held).

      Albo has spent at least 2 days in Newcastle and made some big announcements. Which Newcastle / Hunter seats are in trouble – Hunter is gone, Shortland and Patterson are possibly gone and Newcastle is safe. What are others views

    2. James
      i agree completely. I rate Merryl Swanston & she would be my pick to lead Labor (will never happen) so Patterson is safe (for now) . OTH Pat Conroy is so vain & stupid he makes Morrison look good! Humble even!!.. So SHORTLAND is a dark horse. Hunter is gone the only question will be who to.
      If Labor can’t (can but will not) stop talking about themselves they will lose Dobell too.
      The more Albo says the more he reveals that he is just not up to the job. When he tries to sound intellectual or anything else it just comes out as gobbledegook. The conceit & (all) knowingness is suffocating, nauseating, & pathetic.
      cheers wd

    3. This seat is much stronger for Labor than the upper Hunter state seat. I think this is a Labor retain.. I do not see any of the Hunter seats or Dobell shifting parties. Now Robertson on the central coast is different I don’t know who will win.. but the libs have to be favoured

    4. So today Albo is on the Central Coast – Dobell and Robertson – what does this mean. Dobell Labor holds by 1,5% and Robertson is held by the Liberal Party by 4.2%. So does that mean Dobell is in trouble for Labor or Robertson is a change?

    5. If Labor were to win the election with a comfortable / workable majority – and lose Hunter – it may be a blessing in disguise. Assuming they don’t win Dawson, Capricornia or Flynn either then they have no coal seats. They can get on with a carbon reduction agenda without having to look over their own shoulder. For the coalition it will be a world of pain as the internal carbon wars will continue – unless One Nation or the UAP should somehow come through.

    6. Redistributed
      “They can get on with a carbon reduction agenda without having to look over their own shoulder.”
      This comment is so completely flawed it’s amazing.Then again it isn’t really uncommon, unusual, nor unexpected.

      In the quest to control the world temperature, maybe even the weather itself Australia, & the Australian people have paid, perhaps invested directly, or indirectly about 1 Trillion dollars. With the certainty of the same again over about the next 5 years. And for what ?

      For starters over the last 2 decades
      1/ electricity prices have tripled
      2/ gas prices have quadrupled
      3/ water rates have tripled.
      This is not very consequential for many people, (singles, even couples) especially the wealthy privileged ( ie securely employed) elites of the left. However for most Australian families/ households, of between 4 -6 people these outcomes amount to an annual cost of between $3000 – $10000 . Yeah every single year. (obviously circumstances vary)

      These outcomes & reality, constitute without any question the LARGEST REGRESSIVE impost, on Australian families, in the history of our country. An financial imposition that is certain to double again in the next 5 years !
      The price is not paid out of gross income
      nor after tax income
      It is taken from families DISPOSABLE INCOME .

      Were Australian families asked for permission to have this cost imposed on them ?
      Did they vote for it ?
      Would they choose it ?.
      Were other options presented, or even explored ? Nuclear Energy ? HELE Power stations ? Hydro electric projects ? Bio fuels?
      NO. NONE OF THOSE OPTIONS were even properly considered, ventilated, let alone modelled
      INSTEAD this whole still evolving debacle was created by STEALTH. Hysterical propaganda , faux “science”, distraction, deception, & dissembling venal argument.

      Again WRT Australian families
      Is the current policy direction, in their best interests ?
      Where, & what, is the future benefit for this massive expenditure/investment ?
      How do the current & succeeding generations feel, or regard, this massive legacy of debt, & opportunity cost, which they WILL HAVE TO REPAY ? Not to mention the ecological time bomb of often highly toxic, & large quantities of waste from so called “green energy”

      It is unbelievably bizarre that so many climate alarmists, social democrats, progressives & so on, portray themselves as devoted to
      social justice
      equality of opportunity
      social welfare
      Not to mention the consequences of Job losses, de- industrialisation, & compromising national economic, & broader sovereignty & so on. .
      And yet these cabals are wilfully oblivious to having enabled & inflicted such regressive damage, misery & injustice on Australia, & the Australian people !! Just truly amazing.

      However i’m sure none of these facts, or realities, will trouble you much
      OTH the voters of Hunter are likely to be overwhelmingly sympathetic to the proposition outlined above, rather than to yours . Therein lies the impetus for Labor deservedly losing Hunter.

      Ps Please don’t anyone bother arguing over detail. Ive made a broad argument of essence. Anyone is free to disagree.

    7. On the prospect for one nation winning this, the likelihood might be higher then many were inclined to think. If one nation run in liberal seats, if they get to second on preferences from working class erstwhile labour voters, the rest of the labour voters are usually quite progressive, and both them and the greens preference the liberal candidate. (I,E) Maranoa, Dawson or any of the Qld Coal seats. This is quite similar to situations like Canberra, Cooper or Willis for the greens, where they need to run long, well manned and funded, campaigns in one area to build up a goliath primary vote a la Batman.

      When They run in seats like this they win the erstwhile labour voters, then ideally get up on the nats on preferences, and finally collect the nats preferences to win. This same strategy is being used by the greens in the city in places like ryan, higgins, macnamara, brisbane and kooyong.

    8. Betting odds currently have Labor just eking out a victory, paying $1.82 to the Coalition’s $1.87.

      I think the optics of keeping this seat are very important for Labor, because if they can’t win here, it’d be unlikely for them to win any coal seats anywhere. So I expect to see Albo making several more stops here in the next few months.

    9. Sportsbet is paying $91 for One Nation to win here. Possibly the best value bet they’re offering for the next election!

    10. Labor’s 2PP vote will return to the high 50s or 60% range here. The demographic is much more suburban Newcastle than “Hunter Valley” coal voters. Also with Bonds running as an independent, ONP vote will collapse and with it, the reliable flow of preferences to the Coalition.

      So I would say that Labor @ 1.8s is a very safe bet

    11. @ Luke

      I think you are being generous with Labor being in the high 50s or 60% range. Whoever wins (and it is a toss up) the result will be more like 51 – 54%.

    12. Luke
      Thanks for returning here. I now feel very confident, & reassured, in making a substantial wager on ON winning this seat.
      Apparently your grasp of geography is as wildly erroneous, & unfathomable, as your ideas on economics, industry, & this whole region itself. Congratulations !. I’m not easily impressed !.

      Even a the most cursory of views would reveal that only the
      “”””Lake Macquarie North 21.5 61.6 10,652 10.4 “””
      on Bens “voter group’ analysis could possibly be seen as ” The demographic is much more suburban Newcastle than “Hunter Valley” coal voters. about six (outer suburban, & semi rural ) booths really.
      IN FACT “suburban Newcastle” is in Shortland, & Newcastle.

      The vote that will “collapse” is the ALP VOTE. same as last time -14.2%, & this time without Fitzy there, to beg for “one last chance” Or this whole event just a “one off”!!??. A “misunderstanding”!?
      What has Labor done exactly with that much vaunted “one last chance” !??. Who do you think they have impressed ? Anyone ??. With what, & How EXACTLY ?.
      Try, Just TRY, to open your eyes mate

      sextus pompey
      Excellent post. I’m seeing what you are seeing.

      James “generous” isn’t the word that comes to mind !

    13. Could see this seat going any number of ways but my best guess would be Labor hold – they faced a backlash in this seat last time arguably due to Shorten being seen as too radical (and just generally not well-liked, especially among blue collar voters) as well as the anti-Labor PUP blanket advertising that I think particularly resonated here (but seems to be more generally anti-Labor/Liberal/Greens this time). It’s debatable whether Joel Fitzgibbon absence will help or hurt Labor. Possible that his polarising approach alienated more voters than it attracted, ala Michael Danby.

      I do agree that One Nation also has a good shot at winning this seat and those odds definitely seem waaay too low (although based on One Nation’s history, there’s a good chance even if they do get elected, they’ll quit the party within their first term)

    14. @nicholas

      It seems sportsbet seems to do well on the major parties, and selectively on greens and independents but fail miserably where seats have not been hyped to them by the media
      Some highlights
      – Richmond being on 34$ for a greens win is just insane – as probably the third most winnable seat in this race for the greens on a 5% swing to win on the same 34$ as paramatta. Richmond would be my bet as the next best bet. Added salt to the wound is that cooper is on a total of 6$ for a greens win on a damn 15 percent margin, where they weren’t even sure they were prioritising it this election.
      -Next best bet is Mackellar – how the hell is this on 21$ when literally every other Voice race is on good odds – literally both campaigns to kick out two of the three really high profile ministers have higher odds then this and both of them aren’t even the core heartland for this crap
      – Shoutout to Sportbet for mixing up Oxley and Blair again and putting blair – the only other one nation seat that can have the effect of overtaking the libs – on a normal QLD odds while Oxley- with no chance for one nation – gets the heightened odds. – Honestly a lot of one nation odds in key seats are really undeveloped because they just set one value for the whole state and don’t so a lick of research into the actual seats
      – I am also very grumpy that Canberra has the liberal odds greater then the greens – how are the liberals ever going to win Canberra – riddle me that.

    15. Also the centre alliance is on 34$ for every seat but mayo – biggest joke of the year, Nick Xenophon is running AGAINST the damn party

    16. Gosh, it is so exciting to live and vote in the most pivotal electorate in the world.
      As a true believer who regularly pilgrimages to Barcaldine, I am stunned that I am considering not voting Labor this time round.
      As an aside I reckon if Stuart Bonds was running with PHON he would romp it in.

    17. Looks like the easiest flip to call in NSW if you ask me. Don’t see how Labor holds on with Fitzgibbon retiring and nothing indicating the massive swing last time around will be reversed. Everyone should keep an eye on One Nation here, looks like their strongest chance at a pickup this election.

    18. This one is going to be a very messy one on election night. Labor will lead the first-preferences, but Nationals, ONP and Stuart Bonds (IND) are going to be in a competitive 3-way fight for that 2CP spot vs Labor. It wouldn’t be surprising if ONP or Bonds end up in that spot from 3rd or 4th place and even manage to snag enough Nationals preferences to push in front of Labor vs 2CP. Similar results often happen in QLD state elections (see Mirani & Bundamba 2020).

      I have doubts for Stuart Bonds performing better than ONP. Defectors from ONP notoriously do quite poorly in subsequent election campaigns. It is arguable that the One Nation brand is more significant than any individual profile candidates might think they have developed (except for Pauline herself). One example is the ONP candidate for Wright in 2016, achieving 20.9% of first-preferences. After defecting to FACNP for the 2019 election, he received only 2.23%. The new ONP candidate, despite not having developed a profile, achieved 14% of the vote, eclipsing the defector in a particularly crowded field.

      On the other hand, Stuart Bonds definitely has a higher profile than the Wright candidate I mentioned. The specifics of his defection are different as well like running as an Independent rather than FACNP.

      Funny that Nicholas mentioned ONP odds at $91 in January, its now down to $18 so it looks like a few punters might have snatched those odds.

    19. SEQ Observer – I can’t see the path for ONP or Bonds to get into the second slot, not when Joel Fitzgibbon, who had become deeply unpopular, is departing (ALP got a swing against them of about 2.4% in NSW in 2019… Fitzgibbon had a swing of more than 14%) and ONP are competing against one of their own – leakage will be a factor. This will almost certainly end up being Labor vs Nationals, with Labor over 40% of the primary vote.

      The most recent indicator of how ONP are doing in the area is the Upper Hunter By-Election in 2021, which saw ONP only get 12% of the vote, while the Nationals got 31%.

      Nationals could conceivably manage to poach the seat, if they boost their poll numbers in the area. I don’t see ONP or Bonds managing it, though.

    20. Thanks Glen, I’m operating on a 6% swing (2019) against the Nationals in my assessment of this division. A similar but softer swing against ONP. A pretty steady vote% for the new Labor candidate, considering Fitzgibbon’s personal base roughly balanced out his declining popularity and ended up being closer in line with the division’s default Labor vote. I’m also assuming that Bonds picks up a bit of shine from the general increased appetite for independents in this election, while also recognizing that this will be far from the numbers we will see in affluent electorates with teal or Climate independents.

      Concede that you’re right that Labor vs Nationals is still the most likely outcome in this race.

    21. In February I had commented about One Nation’s chances, but I’m not so sure now. I wasn’t aware about Bonds running as an Independent at the time, and after learning he is I now agree that this is very likely an ALP vs NAT race. Also a lot higher on Labor’s chances than I previously was, though I do think this can go either way. If I had to pick I’d probably favor the Nats but this is a pretty straight up tossup in my opinion, but I do see this as the most likely seat to buck the nationwide trend and be a Coalition gain.

    22. @winediamond
      Most of your comments towards me I will gladly leave through to the keeper, champ. Except for my grasp on the geography of this seat, as I happen to live here and have done most of my life. West & North Lake Macquarie is effectively suburban Newcastle, trust me. Locals will more often than not say they are from “Newcastle”, not the “Hunter Valley”.

      What it means, I suppose, is that the Nats have no natural base to speak of in the areas that comprise the majority of votes to be won. It might be a different story with a decent Lib candidate (and a LNP leader that hasn’t lost the floor!) but then they’d do poorly in the rural booths.

      A well organised & resourced ONP or independent candidate can do pretty well in these parts, as evidenced in the state IND Greg Piper (although my personal view is that Bonds reached the high watermark for ONP last time around), but without that I think that the most likely scenario is a decent recovery in the Labor primary vote and scattered preferences from the “other” vote going all over the place, but not flowing all to the Nats like a lot are assuming.

      My earlier prediction of a 2PP vote up to 60 for Labor may have been a bit bullish, but it will definitely recover to at least 56.

      As for Fitzgibbon, I have never been a fan.

    23. The YouGov MRP poll has ONP at 16% for Hunter, UAP at 6% and 10% for Others (I presume former ONP candidate Bonds makes up the majority of this 10%). Coalition embarrassingly on 16%. Assuming ONP pick up the majority of the preference flow from UAP and Bonds, this will put ONP in front of Coalition for the 2CP matchup with Labor. ALP (42%) will probably sail home on the 10% Greens vote expected (seems quite high for Hunter). This will be one to watch on election night.

    24. 16% for the Nats does seem very oddly low. Unless them and ON are just cannibalising each other’s votes. Or maybe just Fitzgibbon being gone will be a net positive for Labor.

    25. This will be interesting to watch although it seems Barnaby Joyce is up in the NT so maybe they think Lingiari is a better chance than here.

    26. I was quite concerned about Labor’s prospects in this electorate a couple months back but as things improved for them it entered the back of my mind whilst other seats took its place. I’ll certainly make sure to check up on it come election night but it’s not one that I’ll have my eyes locked on constantly.

    27. I’m a tad surprised there has not been more discussion on The Tally Room about this seat, especially after the release of the Resolve poll this week showing a collapse in Labor’s primary vote in NSW. Fitzgibbon’s departure puts this seat in play if the Resolve finding mirrors reality on Saturday.

      At the moment there’s no way to assess the Resolve finding that Labor’s primary in NSW slumped from 41 per cent on 30 April to 28 per cent from a poll conducted between 12 May and 17 May. However, I suspect that the latest Resolve MIGHT be wrong given that the primary vote was roughly 34.5 per cent in 2019. Alternatively, the collapse might be explained by a surge in strategic voting by traditional Labor voters in seats where an independent is presenting the most viable alternative to LNP candidates.

    28. I’d like to see a map of this one. Labor held on. It seems like they did well in Newcastle suburbs and had swings against in Muswellbrook and Singleton, but it’s not neat and I don’t know the area well enough to associate names with areas.

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