Monday, May 15, 2006

Harmer in Wakehurst


Media excitement about the prospect of Wendy Harmer, stand-up comedian and former radio personality, running as an independent in the Sydney north shore electorate of Wakehurst at the next NSW state election. Manly to the south has been happy hunting ground for independents who have held the seat since 1991. I doubt her prospects however, Wakehurst, along with Manly was won by Labor in the 1978 'Wranslide' and was only narrowly lost in 1984, even in 1988 (a landslide Labor defeat) Labor managed over 40% in the seat. But for reasons I don't know but presumably reflect population shifts it has moved firmly into the Liberal camp since then with a 2PP vote of 61% in 2003, despite a state-wide Labor 2PP vote of 57.5% comparable to 1981 when Labor had about 58% in Wakehurst. I think that the 1984 Liberal victor lost preselection for 1991 but even this made no difference. I suspect it is a case of the disappearance of the Labor voting low income pockets that there used many of in more remote parts of the north shore. Perhaps symbolically the former 1978-84 Labor MP is now a local land valuer. The boundaries have also been pushed inland into the true blue Liberal leafy heights. In what is now a heartland Liberal seat Harmer would need to capitalise on local issues, but what are these, and what is to prevent the Liberals taking up these issues? Presumably Labor are encouraging her to run wouldn’t she be better employed as a Labor candidate elsewhere? These are the 2003 figures with the comparison from 1999 (from Psephos):

Rita Lee                  Unity          506  01.5

Peter Forrest Grn 3,220 09.8 (+03.2)

Tony Howells AD 417 01.3 (-05.2)

Vincent de Luca 3,942 12.0

Anthony Mavin 483 01.5

Brad Hazzard * Lib 15,398 46.8 (-01.6)

Mike Hubbard CDP 1,036 03.1

Chris Sharpe ALP 7,903 24.0 (-04.8)

Even if she finished ahead of Labor, probably not that difficult, a tight preference flow and a Liberal vote well under 50% would be required. Vincent de Luca was a former Liberal who campaigned against alleged corruption on the Liberal-dominated Warringah council, but the Council was subsequently dismissed so that issue is past. Note that even in a good year for Labor he seems to have taken much of his vote from Labor.

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