Margin: Labor 10.3%
Region: Sydney St George District
Outgoing member: Frank Sartor (Labor)
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Electorate analysis: Rockdale covers the western shore of Botany Bay, from Wolli Creek and the mouth of Cooks River through Arncliffe, Rockdale, and Ramsgate to Sans Souci. Labor has held the seat since it was created in 1941, though it came within 54 votes of what would have been a spectacular defeat at a by-election in 1986. This was held when sitting member Brian Bannon agreed to vacate the seat so Barrie Unsworth could descend from the upper house and assume the premiership after Neville Wran retired. Labor suffered a 17.1 per cent slump on the primary vote and an estimated 14.5 per cent two-party swing, although the seat returned to business as usual at the 1988 election. Unsworth served out his term and was replaced in 1991 by George Thompson, who in 2003 was persuaded by the Right to make way for its star recruit, Sydney lord mayor Frank Sartor.
Sartor’s path to preselection was smoothed by the Right-controlled head office, and he was immediately elevated to the ministry. He nonetheless faced a stern challenge for his preselection before the 2007 election from Rockdale mayor and Lebanese community leader Shaoquett Moselmane, and he was again installed through an N40 ballot at the direction of head office. His role as Planning Minister entangled him with many of the government’s most severe political difficulties, and he was dumped from the ministry when Nathan Rees became Premier in September 2008. When the Right withdrew its support from Rees in late 2009, Sartor very nearly prevailed over Kristina Keneally as the faction’s candidate for the leadership. He at least returned to cabinet as Environment Minister, but in December 2010 he announced he would join the exodus at the coming election. With little fanfare the party has chosen as his successor Steve Kamper, a local accountant. The Liberals have endorsed John Flowers, a local councillor and former mayor.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.