Electorate: Castle Hill
Margin: Liberal 19.1%
Region: North-Western Sydney
Outgoing member: Michael Richardson (Liberal)
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Electorate analysis: Castle Hill is a narrow south-to-north electorate located 25 kilometres north-west of the Sydney city centre, extending from Carlingford north to Castle Hill itself. It is the successor to the electorate of The Hills which was abolished at the redistribution before the 2007 election. The Hills was created at the 1962 election when it was won by Max Ruddock, father of Philip, who held the seat until 1976. Michael Richardson became member at a 1993 by-election after his predecessor Tony Packard was convicted of using surveillance devices on customers at his car yard. After surviving repeated preselection challenges over the years, most recently before the 2007 election by Australian Family Association spokesman Damien Tudehope (who more recently sought preselection in Baulkham Hills), Richardson announced he would not seek another term in mid-2010.
The ensuing preselection developed as yet another turf war between the David Clarke and Alex Hawke forces of the Right. The former favoured Dominic Perrottet, political staffer and factional operative, who was said to be organising for a move against Richardson before his retirement announcement. The Hawke camp’s candidate was Ashley Pittard, fund manager to Frank Lowy. The faction was reportedly deeply concerned at the prospect of having a Clarke man working turf covered by Hawke’s electorate of Mitchell, and sought a deal with the moderates in exchange for backing of their candidate Matthew Kean in Hornsby. Perrottet nonetheless prevailed and Pittard quit the party, which reportedly came as a blow in light of his fundraising record.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.