Margin: Labor 14.7%
Location: Hunter Region, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Largely thought to be going to waste under the stewardship of previous member Kelly Hoare, this seat in Labor’s Hunter region stronghold has been held since the last election by Greg Combet, former ACTU boss and current government trouble-shooter.
Electorate analysis: Covering the Hunter region on the inland side of Lake Macquarie, from Wyee north through Toronto to the outer Newcastle suburbs of Cardiff and Wallsend, Charlton has been a safe seat for Labor since it was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984. The redistribution has added 1200 voters in Newcastle at Lambton, with no impact on the margin. The inaugural member for Charlton was Bob Brown (obviously not to be confused with the Greens leader), who had earlier held Hunter from 1980. Brown was succeeded by his daughter Kelly Hoare upon his retirement in 1998. After a largely undistinguished career, Hoare was dumped by Labor in favour of Greg Combet, the Left-aligned secretary of the ACTU, following a bruising preselection process that brought unwelcome publicity about sexual harassment allegations. Combet won immediate promotion to parliamentary secretary after the election, first in defence procurement before moving to climate change in February 2009, and was further promoted to the outer ministry in the June 2009 reshuffle that followed Joel Fitzgibbon’s departure as Defence Minister, assuming the role of Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.