Where is NSW Labor likely to trial primaries?

Earlier this week, the NSW Electoral Commission released its draft redistribution with boundaries to be finalised later this year. Antony Green has done an initial examination of the redistribution and what the notional margins would be. If the boundaries do not change significantly, it gives a sense of which seats Labor are likely to win back at the 2015 state election.

State Primaries in 2015

In 2011, Labor amended its rules to allow community preselection in up to five “winnable” seats at the next state election. While Labor has not made substantial gains, recent polls seems to indicate an increase of about 3-4% in its vote since the 2011 election. Seats within a margin of 5% are likely to be candidates for a community preselection in 2015.

The push for community preselection is gaining momentum in NSW. There has been a growing chorus advocating its use over the past few months. Most notably, Mark Latham advocated the use of primaries in his recent Quarterly Essay earlier this year as has Tim Soutphommasane in a recent column. The NSW Young Labor submission to the Labor’s internal review on party leader selection even suggested a primary to elect the state leader. This all indicates that the pro-reform elements of the NSW Right have embraced primaries. It is not a far stretch to suggest that the push for primaries is likely to strengthen even more if Labor loses heartland Western Sydney seats in September.

Which seats?

Unless Carmel Tebbutt is the candidate, the most likely community preselection will be for the new seat of Newtown. There would be two purposes, firstly to build up candidate profiles in a politically aware electorate and secondly conduct voter identification in a notionally Greens seat.

The other seats that are likely to fall into the “winnable” category with a less than 5% margin are:

  • East Hills
  • Granville
  • Newcastle
  • Monaro
  • Prospect
  • Rockdale
  • Oatley
  • Swansea
  • Wyong
  • Balmain
  • Londonderry
  • Wyong

It is difficult to know how many seats and which seats will be chosen but I would be surprised if the trials take place in other seats.

One thing is clear, the NSW Right is moving towards embracing primaries and it will be happening. The question is not when but where.

UPDATE 30/06/13: It looks like I was correct about Newtown and Balmain being seats where primaries will be trialled, however, it seems there is a push to expand the number of primaries beyond five.

UPDATE 22/09/13: The seats where primaries will be trialled were revealed to be Strathfield, Londonderry, Campbelltown, Balmain and Newtown.

UPDATE 21/09/14: NSW Labor also held a community preselection in the seat of Ballina with 2,300 votes cast.


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