Electorate: New England
Margin: Independent 24.3% versus Nationals
Location: Northern Regional, New South Wales
In a nutshell: New England is one of a depressing retinue of seats for the Nationals which have traditionally been part of their heartland, but are currently securely held by independents. In this case the member is Tony Windsor, who has made himself invincible since transferring from state to federal politics in 2001.
Electorate analysis: Created at federation, New England has been remarkably little changed over the course of its history, at all times including the Armidale and Tamworth and losing Glen Innes only between 1934 and 1949. The current redistribution has transferred the Shire of Gunnedah in the south-west and its 8000 voters to Parkes. The 2001 election saw the National/Country Party lose the seat for the first time since the party was founded in 1922, with independent state Tamworth MP Tony Windsor easily defeating one-term member Stuart St Clair with 45 per cent of the primary vote. St Clair had assumed the seat in 1998 upon the retirement of one-time party leader Ian Sinclair, member since 1963. Despite his electorate’s strong conservative leaning, Windsor has said that if he held the balance of power he would support whichever party had the most seats or, if tied, the most votes. The Nationals candidate for this election is Tim Coates, president of the Tamworth Chamber of Commerce.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.