Continuing with the key seats in New South Wales, today it’s the northern and western suburbs of Sydney.
Sydney’s north shore is Liberal heartland: historically, it’s the party’s strongest urban area anywhere in Australia. Some of the shine has been taken off it in recent years, however – not by Labor, but by independents.
Manly was lost by the Liberals in 1991 and is now held by independent David Barr with a margin of just 0.6%.
Pittwater was held by former leader John Brogden, but won by independent Alex McTaggart on his resignation with a healthy margin of 5.4%.
The Liberals are determined to win both of them back; for most of the campaign they’ve been strong favourites in Pittwater but less so in Manly. A report yesterday, however, suggested that Manly might actually be a better bet – although their hopes have repeatedly been dashed there before.
At least Willoughby, where an independent almost beat Liberal Gladys Berejiklian last time, shouldn’t be in danger. The same probably goes for Lane Cove, formerly held by Kerry Chikarovski, which has a margin of just 2.8% against the ALP.
Heading to the north-west the Liberals still largely have the upper hand. In Epping they have a healthy-looking 7.6% margin, but bad publicity from a bruising preselection contest seems to have them worried.
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Problems also in Hawkesbury (14.6%), where sitting Liberal MP Stephen Pringle was dumped for preselection and is running as an independent. Given the low opinion voters seem to have of both major parties, he could be in with a chance.
But the Liberal marginals of Baulkham Hills (4.0%) and Hornsby (4.2%) should be proof against all but a total meltdown, and in a good year (which this isn’t) they would hope to make up ground in Labor-held Ryde (14.8%).
Further west is Labor territory, including one key marginal, Penrith (6.6%). There are two others where the opposition was thought to have some chance, Londonderry (10.9%) and Riverstone (13.4%), but the way the campaign is panning out those sort of swings look beyond them, and even in Penrith Labor are now warm favourites (5-2 on this morning at Centrebet).
In fact, according to Centrebet, Labor are favourites to hold every one of their marginals, including the notionally Nationals-held Murray-Darling, so Peter Debnam will have to pull something out of the hat in the last week.