Margin: Nationals 3.5%
Location: Central Western Regional, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Held through the Howard years by the late independent Peter Andren, Calare passed to the Nationals in Andren’s absence in 2007. John Cobb, who had previously been member for Parkes, now has to contend with a redistribution that has slashed his margin by trading rural areas for Bathurst, Lithgow and Orange.
Electorate analysis: Calare has been much affected in recent times by redistributions, with Labor’s competitiveness determined by the presence or otherwise of Bathurst and Lithgow. The latest changes have returned the area to the seat at the expense of rural territory in the west, slashing the Nationals margin from 12.1 per cent to 3.5 per cent. The seat was held until the 2007 election by independent Peter Andren, who announced he would run for the Senate following the radical redrawing of his seat. He was compelled to withdraw after being diagnosed with cancer, from which he died shortly before the election. It was subsequently contested and won for the Nationals by Parkes MP John Cobb, whose existing electorate had ceded huge stretches of territory to Calare in the redistribution. Created in 1906, Calare passed from Liberal to Country Party control in 1960, with Labor first becoming competitive when the seat absorbed Bathurst in 1977. The seat was finally gained for them with David Simmons’ victory in 1983. Simmons held the seat until his retirement at the 1996 election, at which point the Nationals expected it would fall into their lap. They were to be frustrated when local television news presenter Peter Andren won the seat as an independent, outpolling Labor 29.4 per cent to 29.0 per cent and romping home to a 13.3 per cent win over the Nationals after preferences.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.