Margin: Labor 16.7%
Location: South-Western Sydney, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Centered around Bankstown in Sydney’s west, Blaxland was held by Paul Keating throughout his parliamentary career from 1969 to 1996. Jason Clare succeeded the low-profile Michael Hatton in 2007.
Electorate analysis: Created with the expansion of parliament in 1949, the western Sydney seat of Blaxland provided Paul Keating with a home for the length of his parliamentary career. Bankstown was its centre of gravity from 1969 to 2007, after it was earlier dominated by Auburn. The 2007 redistribution sent the centre of Bankstown to Banks, but it has been returned by the most recent redistribution, now sitting at the south-eastern corner of the electorate. From here it extends northwards to Berala and South Granville, and westwards to Fairfield East and Georges Hall. As well as gaining 14,000 in Bankstown and areas to the west from Banks, the seat has also been substantially affected by the effective abolition of its northern neighbour Reid, absorbing 24,000 of its voters from Berala north-west to South Granville. The compensating losses are in the west (Lansvale and part of Cambramatta, sending 20,000 voters to Fowler) and east (Greenacre south to Mount Lewis, sending 18,000 voters to Watson). The changes have cut 1.7 per cent from the Labor margin.
Blaxland has always been held for Labor by margins of no less than 8.8 per cent, the greatest moment of electoral interest coming in 1949 when Jack Lang tried to move in after winning Reid as a Labor renegade in 1946. He failed, but his latter-day pupil Paul Keating would hold the seat from 1969 to 1996. Keating was succeeded as member but the rather less illustrious Michael Hatton, who lost his endorsement in 2007. He was succeeded by Jason Clare, a Transurban executive and former staffer to NSW Premier Bob Carr, who own preselection ahead of oft-thwarted constitutional lawyer George Williams. A member of the Right said to be close with powerbroker Senator Mark Arbib, Clare has quickly established himself as an up-and-comer in government, winning promotion to parliamentary secretary for employment in June 2009.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.