Electorate analysis: The electorate of Tamworth covers 16,416 square kilometres and extends from the town itself, located 420 kilometres north of Sydney, westwards to Gunnedah and north to Barraba. Never been held by Labor, it has been dominated in recent years by independents. Local farmer Tony Windsor won the seat in 1991 after failing to win Nationals endorsement to succeed long-standing member Noel Park; he polled 36.2 per cent of the primary vote and had an easy 9.8 per cent win after preferences. Windsor was henceforth unassailable, to the extent that the Nationals did not field a candidate in 1995 and managed only 11.6 per cent in 1999. He quit state politics in 2001 to successfully stand for the seat of New England at that year’s election. The ensuing by-election returned Tamworth to the Nationals fold, local farmer John Cull benefiting from a split in the independent vote between James Treloar and Warren Woodley, respectively the mayor and former mayor. Cull’s parliamentary career proved to be short-lived, as he was successfully challenged at the 2003 election by independent candidate Peter Draper, previously the regional manager of Hazelton Airlines. Booth results show particularly strong support for Draper in and around Tamworth, whereas the Nationals comfortably win the booths in Gunnedah. Draper picked up a 2.9 per cent swing at the 2007 election, but the 4.8 per cent margin remained well inside the danger zone.
The Nationals chose Tamworth as the scene for experimental US-style “open primary” preselection, in which anyone enrolled in the electorate was free to participate. An impressive 4293 did so, choosing as candidate local businessmen Kevin Anderson, who enjoyed an extremely high local profile after 11 years as presenter of Tamworth’s Prime Local News. Anderson won 2110 vote (49.4 per cent) to 1100 (25.7 per cent) for James Treloar, 648 (15.2 per cent) for Russell Webb and 414 (9.7 per cent) for Mark Rodda, with the distribution of Rodda’s preferences electing Anderson.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.