Electorate analysis: The 3956 square kilometres covered by the electorate of South Coast includes a heavily populated area around Nowra in the north-east, along with rural areas to the west and coastline as far south as Kioloa. The seat has existed since 1930, and for much of that time has been in independent hands. It was won in 1941 by Rupert Beale, who died the following year and was succeeded by his son Jack Beale, also an independent. Beale junior joined the Liberal Party in 1947 and served as a minister in the Askin government, remaining as member until 1973. He was succeeded upon his retirement by another independent, John Hatton, who had come within 340 votes of defeating Beale in 1971. Hatton held the seat until 1995, and became noted as a campaigner against corruption. He was often elected without opposition from Labor, and in 1998 was wholly unopposed. Hatton was succeeded upon his retirement by Liberal candidate Eric Ellis, despite the candidacy of his son, also called John Hatton. The elder John Hatton is seeking to return to parliament at the coming election by running for the upper house. Eric Ellis lost the seat to Labor’s Wayne Smith at the 1999 election by a margin of 118 votes, but it returned to the Liberal fold when Shoalhaven councillor Shelley Hancock was elected in 2003.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.