Electorate analysis: Northern Tablelands covers 44,674 square kilometres including a 150 kilometre stretch of the Queensland border, extending south through Tenterfield, Inverell, Glen Innes and Armidale. The electorate was created when Armidale was abolished with the introduction of one-vote one-value at the 1981 election. Armidale had usually been in Country Party hands, but was won by Labor in 1953 and again in the 1978 “Wranslide” when it fell to Bill McCarthy (going back a little further, Lieutenant-Colonel George Braund was the sitting member at the time he was killed at Gallipoli in 1915). McCarthy held Northern Tablelands for Labor until his death in 1987; his widow Thelma McCarthy stood for Labor at the ensuing by-election, but National Party candidate Ray Chappell won the seat by 2.6 per cent following a 4.2 per cent swing. Chappell was unseated in 1999 by independent candidate and Armidale mayor Richard Torbay, who has gone on to build up the biggest margin of any independent and an informal sense of seniority among the independents, such that he was Morris Iemma’s choice when he boldly commenced a promising new parliamentary term by agreeing to an independent as Speaker. Torbay is opposed by Nationals candidate Charlie McCowen, a farmer and accountant.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.