There are twenty New England seats in the Legislative Assembly including Barwon, a seat that is only part New England. It is too hard to go through on a booth by booth basis in Barwon to separate the New England booths, so I have treated Barwon as a New England seat.
I have a problem in presenting the results in that I have still to work out how to create a table in a blog post, so I still have to present the results in text form.
Labor (ALP plus Country Labor) ran candidates in all twenty seats, gaining 30 per cent of the vote (NSW average 39 per cent), winning six seats, down two. Labor seats are all in the Lower Hunter - Cessnock, Charlestown, Maitland, Newcastle, Swansea and Wallsend.
Country Labor is a strange beast. Registered as a separate party to give the ALP some country exposure, it remains a creature of its parent. Country Labor runs in inland seats only ( the coast is no longer classified as country) and garnered 3.1 per cent of the total vote.
While I have not calculated figures for the previous election, the combined Labor vote was down because, among other things, of the independent challenge.
The National Party contested thirteen of the twenty seats, gaining 28.78 per cent of the vote (NSW average 10.1 per cent), winning nine seats, up one. National Party seats are spread outside the Lower Hunter - Ballina, Barwon, Clarence, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Myall Lakes, Oxley, Tweed and Upper Hunter.
The Liberal Party contested six of the twenty seats, gaining 8.53 per cent of the vote (NSW average 26.9 per cent), winning one seat - Port Stephens. This is the first time for a number of years that the Liberal Party has held a New England seat.
The combined coalition primary vote (Nationals plus Liberals) in New England totalled 37.31 per cent, slightly higher than the NSW average of 37 per cent.
Twenty three independents contested thirteen of the twenty seats, gathering a collective 21.17 per cent of the vote (NSW average 8.9 per cent), winning four seats - Lake Macquarie, Port Macquarie, Northern Tablelands and Tamworth. In addition to the headline independent candidates who attracted the core attention, independents in fact score quite well in a number of other seats.
The Greens contested all twenty seats, gained 8.3 per cent of the vote (NSW average 9 per cent), winning no seats. I had expected the Green percentage to be higher, above the state average, because of the higher Green vote in parts of the coastal strip and especially the far North East seats. However, this was offset be very low Green votes in inland seats.
Four other minor parties also contested the election:
- the Christian Democratic Party contested ten of the twenty seats, gaining 1.38 per cent of the vote (NSW average 2.5 per cent)
- Australians Against Further Immigration contested ten of the twenty seats gaining 0.89 per cent of the vote (NSW average 1.5 per cent). Here I looked especially at Tamworth where AAFI had high hopes of gaining votes from the refugee dispute. I was please to see that AAFI gained just 435 votes (0.98 per cent).
- The Fishing Party contested two seats, gaining 0.54 per cent of the vote (NSW average 0 per cent)
- The Australian Democrats contested four of the twenty seats, gaining o.38 per cent of the vote (NSW average 0.5 per cent).
Following the 2003 election, the New England party distribution was ALP 9, NP 8, independents 3. Accepting that a New England Assembly would have had more seats, the proportions would likely have been the same. On this basis, the most likely outcome in 2003 would have been an ALP minority Government kept in power with independent support.
This time, the Party composition of a New England Lower House would be National 9, Liberal 1, Labor 6, independent 4. The most likely outcome would have been a coalition or National Government, again kept in power with independent support.
Mind you, the dynamics in a self-governing New England would have been different. Freed of the tarnish of the NSW Labor Government, it seems quite likely that a New England ALP Government would have been able to retain power.