Margin: Liberal 9.6%
Location: North-Western Sydney, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Located in the Liberals’ northern Sydney heartland, Mitchell has been a safe seat for the party since its creation in 1949. Alex Hawke succeeded the long-serving and low-profile Alan Cadman in 2007, and has spent much of his first term in parliament embroiled in factional warfare.
Electorate analysis: Mitchell covers Sydney’s northern suburbs from Winston Hills and North Rocks north through Baulkham Hills and Castle Hill to Beaumont Hills, Rouse Hill and Box Hill. The redistribution has added 9500 voters around Winston Hills in the south from Parramatta and transferred 8600 around Glenhaven beyond Cattal Creek in the north to Berowra, cutting the margin 2.0 per cent. The electorate has shrunk considerably since its creation in 1949, turning from marginal to safe Liberal as it shed Blacktown, St Marys and Riverstone. Labor’s only wins came in 1961 and 1972, Alan Cadman recovering the seat for the Liberals in 1974. His margin was in double digits at every election thereafter, assisted by highly favourable redistributions in 1977 and 1984. Cadman was lucky to survive a preselection challenge ahead of the 2004 election, and his victory appeared to be conditional on the understanding that this turn would be his last. He nonetheless threw his hat into the ring once again, but withdrew on the day of the vote as it had become obvious to all that he faced defeat from Alex Hawke, renowned numbers man of the Right. Since entering parliament he has remained chiefly noted for his factional activities, in particular his struggles with his former ally David Clarke.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.