NSW State Election 2011: Penrith
Margin: Labor 9.2%*
Region: Outer Western Sydney
Click here for NSW Electoral Commission map
* Liberal 16.5% at by-election on 19 June 2010
JOAQUIM DE LIMA
Electorate analysis: The city of Penrith itself is located 50 kilometres due west of Sydney, and forms the epicentre of the famously marginal federal seat of Lindsay. From there the state electorate extends into the surrounding suburbs of Glenbrook, Lapstone and Kingswood. The north-to-south Nepean River marks a sharp divide in the electorate’s voting patterns, with Labor’s vote to its east about 10 per cent higher than in the Blue Mountains foothills to its west. It had only once been held by the Liberals from its creation in 1973 until the by-election of June 19, 2010, at which Labor suffered what may have been the worst by-election result for a major party in Australian history. A titanic 25.7 per cent swing blasted away the relatively slight Labor margin, delivering a 16.5 per cent victory to Australian College of Physical Education business development manager Stuart Ayres.
The only Liberal member for the seat to that point had been Guy Matheson, who unseated Unsworth government Health Minister Peter Anderson in 1988. The Labor candidate who recovered the seat in 1991 was Penrith mayor Faye Lo Po’, who survived a small swing in 1995 before consolidating her hold with a 12.4 per cent boost in 1999. After serving as a minister in the Carr government, Lo Po’ retired in 2003 and was succeeded by Penrith councillor Karyn Paluzzano. In May 2010 Paluzzano was compelled to resign from parliament after admitting she had lied to the Independent Commission Against Corruption with regard to falsified employee pay forms. Labor’s nominee to succeed her was Penrith mayor John Thain, who in accepting the nomination set himself up as a punching bag for an electorate itching to apply the baseball bat to the Keneally government. The Liberals had already held its preselection with a view to the coming election, choosing Ayres over Penrith councillor Ben Goldfinch. John Thain will again take the field for Labor.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.