Margin: Nationals 11.6%
Region: Grafton and North Coast
Click here for NSW Electoral Commission map
Electorate analysis: Clarence covers the north coast from Corindi Beach north to Broadwater, taking its name from the river that runs through its centre. The main population centres are Grafton on the Clarence River and Casino in the far north, the latter of which was gained in the redistribution before the 2007 election. Clarence was a stronghold of the National/Country Party from the abolition of proportional representation in 1927 until 1981 (although a candidate for the New State Movement, which wished for New England to break away from New South Wales, polled 35.7 per cent in 1968), when it fell for a term to Labor’s Don Day. Ian Causley recovered it in 1984 and remained the member until 1996, when he successfully contested the Labor-held federal seat of Page at the election that brought the Howard government to power. The defeated Labor member, Harry Woods, then stood at the by-election to fill Causley’s vacancy in Clarence, and won with a resounding 14.0 per cent swing. This added a handy buffer to what had previously been the Carr government’s one-seat majority. In 1999 Woods came within 143 votes of losing the seat to Nationals candidate Steve Cansdell, a Grafton councillor and signwriting business operator who had earlier threatened to ignore party leader George Souris’s ban on directing preferences to One Nation. Few thought Labor likely to retain the seat when Woods took his personal vote into retirement in 2003, and Cansdell secured the seat on his second attempt with a small but decisive 1.7 per cent swing. He added a further 6.5 per cent to his margin at the 2007 election.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.