Margin: Labor 15.0%
Location: Southern Sydney, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Based around Kogarah in Sydney’s south, Barton changed hands three times between 1966 and 1975, but has lately been safe for Labor. The current member is Attorney-General Robert McClelland.
Electorate analysis: Barton has covered Kogarah and surrounding areas on the north shore of the Georges River since its creation in 1922, currently extending north through Rockdale to Earlwood and Kingsgrove. The latter area has been gained in the redistribution, adding 27,500 voters from Watson, while a substantial area around Oatley and South Hurstville to the west of Kogarah has been ceded to 26,000 voters to Banks. The changes have boosted Labor’s margin by 2.9 per cent. Past members for Barton include Herbert “Doc”Evatt, who won the seat from the United Australia Party in 1940 and held it until 1958, when he moved to Hunter after close shaves in 1951 (when World War II hero Nancy Wake, running for the Liberals, came within 243 votes of victory) and 1955 (when Evatt prevailed by 226 votes). The seat nonetheless stayed with Labor until the 1966 disaster, subsequently changing hands along with government in 1975 and 1983. Gary Punch held the seat for generally narrow margins in the 1980s, but put enough fat on the margin in 1993 that his successor Robert McClelland survived the 1996 landslide. McClelland
A member of the NSW Right, McClelland held a series of senior portfolios after entering the shadow ministry in 1998 – progressively Attorney-General and workplace relations, defence and foreign affairs – and has served as Attorney-General since the election of the Rudd government. As Louise Dodson of The Age explains, McClelland’s decision to switch his vote to Mark Latham was the decisive factor in the latter’s one-vote leadership win over Kim Beazley. He also sided against Beazley when Kevin Rudd came to the leadership in December 2006.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.