Margin: Independent 0.9% versus Nationals
Region: Rural Mid-West
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Electorate analysis: The city of Dubbo is located at the northern end of a 20,000 square kilometre electorate that extends south through the shires of Parkes and Forbes. The seat frequently changed hands between Labor and the Country Party from 1930 to 1959, but the decline of farm and railway labour made Labor less competitive over time. The Liberals held the seat from 1959 until 1981, when Gerry Peacocke gained it for the National Party upon the retirement of recently deposed Liberal leader John Mason. When Peacocke retired in 1999 the Nationals preselected local talkback radio host Richard Mutton, but long-serving Dubbo mayor Tony McGrane ran against him as an independent and won by 14 votes. McGrane had a less nervous time of it at the March 2003 election, when he outpolled the Nationals candidate 41.6 per cent to 38.2 per cent and prevailed by 5.5 per cent after preferences. McGrane succumbed to cancer in September 2004 and a by-election followed on November 20. The seat stayed in independent hands, Dawn Fardell achieving a similar margin to McGrane (5.2 per cent) over Nationals candidate Jan Cowley. Fardell only barely held on at the 2007 election, her primary vote falling from 50.6 per cent to 41.7 per cent the two-party margin narrowing to 0.9 per cent. There is a general expectation that the Nationals will go one better this time. Their candidate is police inspector Troy Grant, who won preselection ahead of fellow police officer Robert Dunn.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.