Electorate analysis: The electorate of Bathurst covers 14,875 square kilometres and extends from the city of Bathurst east to Lithgow, south to Oberon, south-west to Blayney and north to Rylstone. Labor generally scores strong majorities in the dominant Bathurst and Lithgow booths, overwhelming the stronger Nationals support in smaller towns and rural areas. The electorate has existed without interruption since self-government was established in 1856, including seven years as a three-member district when proportional representation operated after 1920. Labor’s Christopher Kelly was member for all but one term between 1925 until his death in 1967, when it fell to Clive Osborne of the Country Party. Osborne’s position was seriously weakened after the Wran government abolished rural vote weighting in 1981, leading the electorate to expand into Labor-voting Lithgow. It was then narrowly won for Labor by Mick Clough, who had held Blue Mountains since 1976. Clough held the seat until 1999, although he had one term on the bench after losing to Liberal candidate David Berry in 1988, and only narrowly defeated Nationals candidate Trevor Toole in 1995. His successor was Lithgow mayor Gerard Martin, who was assisted to a 17.2 per cent swing by the Liberals’ ill-advised decision to field a candidate in competition with the Nationals. With Martin retiring at the coming election, Labor has endorsed licensed conveyancer Dale Turner. His rather higher profile Nationals opponent is Paul Toole, the mayor of Bathurst.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.