Margin: Nationals 17.3%
Region: South-West Rural
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Electorate analysis: Burrinjuck covers 28,251 square kilometres immediately to the north of the Australian Capital Territory, including Cootamundra, Yass, Cowra, Young and a stretch of the Hume Highway from Gundagai east to Cullarin. It was extensively redrawn by the redistribution before the 2007 election, which abolished two neighbouring electorates: Lachlan to the west and Southern Highlands to the east. This shifted it westwards to fill much of the void left by Lachlan, including the area around Young and Cootamundra. At the other end it lost the city of Goulburn to a new electorate of that name, which in turn replaced Southern Highlands. Burrinjuck also assumes more than 10,000 voters in an area around Cowra which previously formed the southern half of Orange. The changes added a substantial 8.3 per cent to the Nationals’ two-party margin.
Burrinjuck was created at the 1950 election in place of the abolished Yass, and was held for Labor by William Sheahan (the member for Yass since 1941) until he was succeeded by his son Terry in 1973. It finally fell in 1988 when Sheahan was defeated by Liberal candidate Alby Schultz, who remained the member until a redistribution moved Cootamundra to Lachlan in 1998. Schultz threatened to stand against soon-to-be-ousted Nationals leader Ian Armstrong in Lachlan, but instead entered federal politics as the member for Hume in October 1998. Burrinjuck remained vacant from then until the state election of 27 March 1999, when a three-cornered contest played out between Alby Schultz’s wife Gloria, Nationals candidate Katrina Hodgkinson and Labor’s Michael McManus. Hodgkinson outpolled Schultz 29.2 per cent to 16.6 per cent and prevailed over McManus by 1.2 per cent after distribution of preferences. The Nationals picked up a 2.9 per cent two-party swing when the Liberals vacated the field in 2003.
Katrina Hodgkinson was promoted to the front bench after the 2003 election with the small business and fair trading portfolios, before moving to tourism and rural affairs in April 2005. Rural affairs was exchanged for major events in March 2006. The abolition of Lachlan, combined with ongoing hostility between Alby Schultz and the Nationals, led to reports that Hodgkinson would challenge Schultz in Hume at the 2007 federal election and leave Burrinjuck vacant for Ian Armstrong. The second part of the bargain failed to eventuate, with Armstrong instead choosing to retire, and both Schultz and Hodgkinson stayed put. After the 2007 state election Hodgkinson was promoted to the community services, families and child safety portfolios, before switching to newly created natural resource management in the December 2008 reshuffle.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.