Electorate analysis: The electorate of Wollondilly was created at the 2007 election from southern part of Campbelltown, also taking in Hume Highway towns as far south as Bargo and extending westwards through the hinterland areas of Warragamba and Picton. Labor’s strength is in the Campbelltown suburbs, which provide about 40 per cent of the voters; their primary vote here has been as high as 60 per cent at the last two elections, whereas they tended to finish slightly behind the Liberals in the less populous areas. There was previously an electorate of Wollondilly from 1904 to 1981, which only fell to Labor with the “Wranslide” of 1978. Its members included two conservative Premiers, George Fuller (1922 to 1925) and Tom Lewis (1975 to 1976). It was Lewis who lost the seat at the 1978 election, which also saw the defeat of incumbent Liberal leader Peter Coleman in Fuller.
Labor did very well to poach local mayor Phil Costa as its candidate for the 2007 election, who had earlier been planning to run as an independent. With the Liberals suffering from a fraught preselection process, Costa was able to limit the swing against him to 1.5 per cent, allowing him to fall over the line with a 3.1 per cent margin. Costa was promoted to Water Minister when Nathan Rees replaced Morris Iemma as Premier in September 2008 and was widely tipped to replace Kristina Keneally as Planning Minister when she became Premier in December 2009, but instead had his existing responsibility supplemented with community services. He is one of the few Labor marginal seat MPs who has signed on for the hopeless task of attempting to retain his seat.
The Liberal candidate is Jai Rowell, a local councillor and former adviser to upper house MP Charlie Lynn, an ally of Right faction warlord David Clarke. Rowell appeared to be set for preselection before the 2007 election, but nominations were reopened on the insistence of then leader Peter Debnam and the endorsement instead went to local real estate agent Sharryn Hilton. Also contesting as an independent is former mayor Judy Hannan, who contested Auburn for the Liberals in 2001 and was more recently the local branch president for the Nationals. Hannan was a prospect for Liberal preselection in 2007, and Phil Costa complained at that time that her bid had been rolled by the Right.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.