With just 11 weeks to go until the NSW election on 25 March, I thought it was time to publish the Electoral Pendulum that I am advising the ABC to use for the election.
Since the 2019 election there has been a redistribution of electoral boundaries, five by-elections and a number of members who have left the party for which they were elected.
The pendulum inside this posts tries to account for the numerous changes. I’ve also summarised the 2020/21 redistribution, and provided notes on alternate margins for seats.
Depending on nominations, there may be one or two seats where I change the margin between now and March.
The Coalition won the 2019 election with 48 seats to Labor 36 with nine members on the crossbench, three Greens, three Independents and three Shooters, Fishers and Farmers. (Three SFF in total, not one of each.)
As I explain in the post, accounting for redistributions, by-elections and defections, the starting point for the 2023 election is Coalition 46 seats, Labor 38 and nine on the crossbench, three Greens and six Independents. Majority government requires 47 seats.
With the increasing number of NSW seats that are no longer major party contests, talking about the uniform swing each side needs to win is becoming less meaningful. The Coalition holds five seats on margins under 4% and Labor six. The nine crossbenchers will be trying to retain their seats, and there will be new Independents nominating, especially in safe Liberal seats.
Labor needs nine seats on a daunting swing of 6.2% for majority government, but can hope to form government with support from the crossbench if it can gain five seats to finish with more seats than the Coalition, though the presence of at least three Greens may open the possibility that Labor could form government with fewer seats than the Coalition.
Premier Perrottet and his predecessor Glady Berejiklian have managed to govern for more than two years without a clear majority in the Legislative Assembly. It is one of the rare occasions in recent years where a Coalition government has successfully managed a hung parliament. The size of the crossbench, and the chance it will increase in size on 25 March, mean the result of the election may only be the starting point for the formation of the next NSW government.
The State of the Parties
The table below summarises the result of the 2019 NSW election and the changes in party composition ahead of the 2023 election.
The ‘New Boundaries’ line adjusts the numbers taking account of the 2020/21 redistribution. The new boundaries have effectively shifted one seat from the Coalition to the Labor side of the electoral pendulum.
The ‘Other Changes’ line factors in by-elections and party defections. Labor gained Bega from the Liberal Party at a 2022 by-election, and Port Macquarie MLA Leslie Williams defected from the Nationals to the Liberal Party in 2021. The three elected Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MLAs now sit as Independents having resigned from the party in 2022.
The table does not reflect the Liberal MLAs for Drummoyne and Kiama having been excluded from the Liberal party room. For the purposes of the election, and drawing up an electoral pendulum, both seats have been listed as Liberal seats.
Based on alternate two-party preferred counts, four crossbench seats had underlying Labor majorities (Ballina, Balmain, Lake Macquarie, Newtown) and five had Coalition majorities (Barwon, Murray, Orange, Sydney, Wagga Wagga). So on a strict two-party preferred basis, the 2019 election produced 53 seats with a Coalition majority against 40 for Labor.
Based on the redistribution, those numbers switch to 51 for the Coalition and 42 for Labor. The notional changes brought about by the redistribution were Heathcote switching from Liberal to Labor as mentioned, and Sydney now having a notional underlying Labor majority.
A Quick Summary of the Redistribution
The major change has been the abolition of Lakemba (ALP 22.4%). It is held by Labor frontbencher Jihad Dib, and his seat has essentially become the re-drawn seat of Bankstown (ALP 20.5%). The problem for Labor was that the current seat called Bankstown was held by another Labor frontbencher, Tania Mihailuk. Without going into complex detail, Dib will be the Labor candidate for Bankstown while Mihailuk is no longer a member of the Labor Party.
The abolition of Lakemba has created a cascade of changes across south-west Sydney, eventually leaving room for a new and marginal Labor seat called Leppington (ALP 1.5%). It covers a disconnected string of greenfield suburbs on Sydney’s south-west fringe.
As already noted, the Liberal MP for Heathcote, Lee Evans, faces a serious challenge in his re-drawn seat. It has shed Liberal voting territory in the Sutherland Shire and been pushed south into the left-leaning suburbs of the northern Illawarra. His Liberal margin of 5.0% has been replaced by a notional Labor margin of 1.7%.
Labor Leader Chris Minns will go into the election holding Labor’s most marginal seat. The new boundaries have cut his margin in Kogarah from 1.8% to just 0.1%.
Some of the other significant changes in margin are –
- Auburn slips south, losing areas in the developing estates around Homebush Bay to Parramatta, those areas having been added to the City of Parramatta in the local government amalgamations. The Labor margin rises from 9.1% to 13.7%.
- These new areas added to Liberal-held Parramatta see the Liberal margin slip from 10.6% to 6.5%.
- Badgerys Creek with a Liberal margin of 9.7% is the new name for Mulgoa, won with an 11.3% margin in 2019.
- Bankstown has Labor margin of 20.5% compared to 13.8% for the old Bankstown and 22.4% for the abolished seat of Lakemba.
- East Hills is currently the Liberal Party’s most marginal seat on 0.5%, and remains so with the margin now reduced to 0.1%.
- Holsworthy shifts east, re-gaining parts of Sutherland Shire lost in the last redistribution. The Liberal margin rises from 3.3% to 6.0%.
- Labor’s margin in Londonderry slips from 6.5% to 3.0%
- The Liberal margin for Oatley slips from 10.5% to an estimated 6.8%.
- Stuart Ayres has his position weakened in Penrith, the Liberal margin down from 1.3% to 0.4%.
- The National margin in Upper Hunter falls from 2.6% to an estimated 0.5%. This does not take account of the May 2021 by-election.
Four districts have adopted new names –
- Baulkham Hills becomes Kellyville, though based on enrolment transfers, it could be argued that the new Castle Hill replaces Baulkham Hills and Kellyville replaces the old Castle Hill.
- Ku-ring-gai is re-named Wahroonga
- Mulgoa is re-named Badgerys Creek
- Seven Hills is re-named Winston Hills
For more on the electoral boundaries, see my previous post on the 2020/21 NSW Redistribution which includes a link to my publication on the new boundaries for the NSW Parliamentary Library.
New Electoral Pendulum
You can find a printable A4 version of the pendulum, and an alphabetic list of seat margins, at this link.
|Coalition (46)||Labor Seats (38)|
|% Margin||Electorate||% Margin||Electorate|
|0.5||Upper Hunter (NAT)||1.5||Leppington|
|0.6||Penrith||1.7||Heathcote (See notes)|
|3.3||Willoughby (v IND)||2.3||Coogee|
|5.7||Winston Hills||5.1||Bega (See notes)|
|9.3||Myall Lakes (NAT)||9.4||Granville|
|10.8||Coffs Harbour (NAT)||12.9||Wyong|
|11.6||Monaro (NAT)||13.6||Blue Mountains|
|12.9||Manly (v GRN)||14.9||Macquarie Fields|
|17.8||North Shore||18.5||Mount Druitt|
|19.4||Vaucluse (v GRN)||21.6||Summer Hill|
|20.1||Port Macquarie (see notes)||25.8||Wallsend|
|22.4||Castle Hill||Others (9)|
|22.4||Pittwater (v GRN)||2.8||Murray (IND v NAT)|
|23.1||Kellyville||4.9||Ballina (GRN v NAT)|
|24.8||Davidson||6.6||Barwon (IND v NAT)|
|26.6||Cootamundra (NAT)||10.0||Balmain (GRN v ALP)|
|28.0||Tamworth (NAT)||11.4||Newtown (GRN v ALP)|
|33.2||Northern Tablelands (NAT)||11.8||Sydney (IND v LIB)|
|15.2||Orange (IND v NAT)|
|15.5||Wagga Wagga (IND v NAT)|
|23.2||Lake Macquarie (IND v ALP)|
Notes on Margins
The above pendulum has been designed to show one margin for each electorate. Generally I choose the margin likely to be the most meaningful come election night. There may be one or two seats where I change my mind between now and election day.
Below I set out alternate margins for some seats.
Ballina – A Greens versus National contest at the last two elections. The alternative Labor two-party preferred margin versus the Nationals is 3.9%. On first preferences, the Greens margin is 3.1% versus Labor to finish in second place and benefit from preferences.
Balmain – The alternate two-party preferred margin is Labor 20.5% versus Liberal.
Barwon – The Independent margin used in the pendulum is the SFF margin from 2019. Electorate unchanged in redistribution.
Bega – The margin shown in the pendulum is Labor’s winning margin from the February 2022 by-election. The margin based on 2019 election results is Liberal 6.9%. Bega is unchanged by the redistribution.
Cabramatta – In 2019 Labor won Cabramatta with a 12.9% two-candidate preferred margin versus Independent Dai Le. The redistribution, plus Le’s election to the local Federal seat of Fowler in May 2022, means the two-party preferred margin used in the pendulum is more appropriate.
Coffs Harbour – Two-party preferred margin used in the pendulum. In 2019 the Nationals won Coffs Harbour with a 10.3% margin versus Independent Sally Townley. There were no boundary changes to Coffs Harbour in the redistribution.
Davidson – Two-party preferred margin used in the pendulum. The alternate Liberal margin versus the Greens is 25.0%.
Drummoyne – Estimated Liberal margin based on redistributed 2019 election results. MP John Sidoti was excluded from the Liberal Party after being named in an ICAC inquiry.
Dubbo – Two-party preferred margin used in the pendulum. In 2019 the Nationals won Dubbo with a 2.1% margin versus Independent Matthew Dickerson.
Heathcote – Liberal MP Lee Evans won with a 5.0% margin in 2019 but on the new boundaries the seat now has a notional Labor majority of 1.7%. Evans will re-contest as the sitting Liberal MLA.
Kiama – Unchanged by the redistribution and 2019 Liberal Party margin used. Sitting MLA Gareth Ward resigned from the Liberal party room after being charged with sexual assault.
Lake Macquarie – Margin shown is for Independent Greg Piper versus Labor. The alternate Labor two-party preferred margin versus Liberal is 6.5%.
Lismore – Labor two-party preferred margin used in the pendulum. Areas added to the electorate from Ballina could put the Greens into second place ahead of Labor, which based on 2019 results would have delivered the Nationals victory with a 2.4% versus the Greens. Labor flows to the Greens in Lismore were much weaker than the reverse preference flows from the Greens to Labor. Based on 2019 results, Labor and the Greens are with 0.3% of each other on first preferences.
Manly – Liberal margin versus the Greens used. Alternate two-party preferred margin versus Labor is 14.6%.
Monaro – Seat unchanged by redistribution and margin shown is from the 2019 election. The National margin based on the February 2022 by-election is 5.2%.
Murray – The Independent margin used in the pendulum is the SFF margin from 2019. Only minor boundary change in redistribution.
Newtown – Green margins versus Labor used. Alternate Labor two-party preferred margin versus the Liberals is 28.3%.
North Shore – Two-party preferred margin used. Alternate Liberal margin versus Independent Carolyn Corrigan was 11.1%.
Orange – Independent margin used in the pendulum is the SFF margin from 2019. Electorate unchanged by redistribution.
Pittwater – Unchanged by redistribution. The Liberal margin used in pendulum is versus the Greens. The alternate two-party preferred margin versus Labor is 22.4%.
Port Macquarie – Won by the National Party’s Leslie Williams in 2019, but she defected to the Liberal Party in 2021. Liberal margin shown is the adjusted National Party margin for 2019.
Strathfield – Redistribution margin based on 2019 results. On the old boundaries, Labor won the February 2022 Strathfield by-election with a margin of 5.8%.
Summer Hill – Two-party preferred margin used in the pendulum based on new boundaries. The Greens finished second to Labor in the seat at the 2015 election but not in 2019.
Sydney – Estimated Independent versus Liberal margin for new boundaries used. Alternate two-party preferred margin would be Labor 0.5% versus, but with an enormous rate of exhausted preferences.
Tamworth – Estimated two-party preferred margin used in the pendulum. Actual two-candidate preferred margin from 2019 was National 20.8% versus Independent Mark Rodda.
Upper Hunter – The Nationals won Upper Hunter with a 2.6% margin in 2019, and increased the majority to 5.8% at the May 2021 by-election. The estimate used in the pendulum is based on 2019 results adjusted to the new boundaries.
Vaucluse – Liberal margin versus the Greens used. Alternate two-party preferred margin versus Labor 20.6%.
Wagga Wagga – Unchanged in redistribution. 2019 Independent versus National margin used in pendulum. The alternate two-party preferred margin is National 7.5% versus Labor.
Willoughby – Liberal margin versus Independent Larissa Penn used from the February 2022 by-election. It is not possible to adjust this margin for new boundaries. Liberal two-party preferred margin from 2019 based on new boundaries would be 20.7%.
Wollondilly – Two-party preferred margin used in the pendulum. Alternate two-candidate preferred margin versus Independent Judy Hannan is 6.0%. Hannan has registered to contest the 2023 election.