Electorate: Upper Hunter
Margin: Nationals 14.7%
Region: Hunter Valley
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Electorate analysis: Upper Hunter covers 30,287 square kilometres of territory north-west of Newcastle, including the Hunter Valley towns of Singleton and Muswellbrook. It extends from Stroud and Gloucester in the east to Goulburn River National Park in the west. The seat has been in conservative hands since it was recreated with the abolition of proportional representation in 1927, and in National/Country Party hands since 1931. Former accountant and Singleton Shire president George Souris became member in 1988, going on to hold portfolios including finance and land and water conservation in the Fahey government. He became leader of the Nationals in 1999 after deposing Ian Armstrong, a rare event in a party renowned for long leadership reigns and peaceful transitions. Souris stood aside as leader after the 2003 election, when he was succeeded by Oxley MP Andrew Stoner. He has held various shadow portfolios since, currently being Shadow Minister for Hospitality and Tourism, Racing and Major Events. There have been suggestions that Souris faces a strong challenge from Gunnedah Shire councillor Tim Duddy, who is running as an independent.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.