Electorate analysis: The current electorate of Gosford is in effect the successor to what prior to the 2007 redistribution was the electorate of Peats, having only the city itself (accounting for 9500 voters) in common with the old Gosford electorate. The bulk of old Gosford, including the area between Gosford and the coast and further territory to the south, formed the basis of the new seat of Terrigal. Accordingly, Liberal member for Gosford Chris Hartcher contested Terrigal, while Labor’s Peats MP Marie Andrews contested Gosford. The redrawn Gosford is dominated by Gosford itself and Woy Woy on the opposite (southern) shore of Brisbane Water; from there it extends west and north-west through thinly populated territory to Wisemans Ferry and Mangrove Creek Dam, with Hawkesbury River and Broken Bay as the southern boundary.
Peats was created at the 1973 election when it was won for Labor by Keith O’Connell, previously the member for Gosford. When O’Connell retired in 1984 it was used by Wran government Attorney-General Paul Landa to parachute in from the upper house, but he held it for only seven months until his death in November 1984. Landa was succeeded by Tony Doyle, who held the seat at a by-election in February 1985 despite a 10.7 per cent slump in the Labor primary vote. Doyle retired due to ill health on 20 December 1994 and died just four days later. There followed a familiar scenario in which the Right-dominated administrative committee imposed an N38 ballot (the precursor of today’s N40) that gave it half the preselection vote against the protests of the Left-controlled local branches. The ballot allowed Right-backed Marie Andrews, an official with the Australian Railways Union, to defeat Jo Rainford of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance 34 votes to 25.
Andrews remained on the back bench throughout her parliamentary career, and will bow out at the coming election. Katie Smith, a solicitor said to be linked with the locally powerful John Della Bosca and Belinda Neal forces, won the enusing Labor preselection unopposed. The Liberals have again endorsed their candidate from 2007, local mayor Chris Holstein.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.