Margin: Labor 9.7%
Location: South-Western Sydney, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Labor’s rough trot in middle suburbia brought the margin in this normally safe Labor seat to below 2 per cent in 2004, but it was back to business as usual in 2007. Daryl Melham has held the seat for Labor since 1990.
Electorate analysis: Banks is located on the outer edge of Labor’s inner Sydney heartland, bordering the outer suburban ring of seats on which elections so often hinge. Suburbs nearer the city including Riverwood and Padstow have kept it in Labor’s hands, but the party’s dominance is softened by the waterside suburbs along the Georges River which form the electorate’s southern border. The redistribution has shifted the electorate substantially to the west, largely reversing changes from the previous redistribution. This has cost it costing it western territory around Bankstown (where 14,000 voters are transferred to Blaxland), Punchbowl (4000 voters to Watson and Revesby Heights north to Milperra (where 22,500 voters go to Hughes). In the east it gains 18,700 voters in Hurstville and a sliver of territory south of the South Western Motorway from Watson and 26,000 around Oatley and South Hurstville from Barton. Labor’s margin has been cut by 1.4 per cent.
Labor has held Banks at all times since its creation in 1949, their closest shave prior to 1996 being a 3.1 per cent win in 1975. The defeat of the Keating government produced a 9.1 per cent swing that cut the margin to 1.4 per cent, and it again swung to the Liberals in 2001 (4.4 per cent) and 2004 (1.8 per cent), the latter result pushing it deep into the marginal zone. However, the seat reverted to type with a 7.9 per cent swing to Labor in 2007. Labor’s member since 1990 has been Daryl Melham, a former barrister and member of the Left faction. Melham rose to the shadow ministry in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs portfolio after the 1996 election defeat, but quit in August 2000 in protest against his party’s decision not to oppose Queensland’s contentious native title laws. He returned after the 2001 election, but voluntarily went to the back bench after the 2004 election saying he preferred to focus on committee work. He is currently chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.