Electorate analysis: Londonderry covers an area of Sydney’s north-western hinterland from St Marys and Mount Druitt north to Richmond. It was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1988 and has been held at all times by Labor, the inaugural member having been former Manly rugby league player Paul Gibson. Gibson’s political future appeared in grave doubt ahead of the 1999 election when the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigated claims he accepted cash and goods from Kings Cross strip club owner Louis Bayeh (a principal in The Golden Mile series of the Nine Network’s Underbelly), with the further complication that a cut in parliamentary numbers from 99 to 93 has powerbrokers hoping he might make way for Paul Whelan or Jim Anderson, left homeless by the abolition of Ashfield and St Marys. They were to be disappointed, as Gibson was exonerated and returned to claim the safe seat he had reportedly been promised. His prospects in Londonderry were damaged when the party’s administrative committee shut down two branches in which he was strongly influential due to branch stacking, and he became determined on a move to Mount Druitt, held by Richard Amery of the arch-rival “Troglodytes” Right sub-faction.
The various interlocking disputes were ultimately settled when Whelan agreed to contest the Liberal marginal of Strathfield, with Anderson moving to Londonderry and Gibson accommodated in Blacktown (see the latter entry for a more comprehensive account of Gibson’s adventures). Jim Anderson served one term in Londonderry before his death on the morning of the 2003 election, requiring the election for Londonderry to be postponed by two months. The ensuing preselection was won narrowly by Blacktown councillor Allan Shearan, who polled 52.3 per cent of the primary vote at the supplementary election in the absence of a Liberal candidate. The redistribution before the 2007 election cut the margin by 4.4 per cent after adding semi-rural territory north of the Hawkesbury River, with a further 3.9 per cent swing to the Liberals bringing the margin down to 7.0 per cent. Shearan has failed to win promotion in his two terms in parliament, and in the current environment stands little chance of winning a third. The Liberals have again endorsed their candidate from 2007, Hawkesbury mayor Bert Bassett.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.