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Division of Paterson

Australian House of Representatives Division
Division of Paterson in New South Wales, as of the 2016 federal election
Dates current1949–84, 1992–present
MPMeryl Swanson
NamesakeBanjo Paterson
Electors132,123 (2022)
Area1,123 km2 (433.6 sq mi)
Coordinates32°24′25″S 151°55′5″E / 32.40694°S 151.91806°E / -32.40694; 151.91806

The Division of Paterson is an Australian electoral division in the state of New South Wales. It is located just north of Newcastle, on the coast of the Tasman Sea. The division is named after federation-era poet and author Banjo Paterson and was originally created in 1949 and abolished in 1984. It was recreated after a redistribution in 1992.

The division is centred on the lower Hunter Valley and the outer suburbs of Greater Newcastle. It includes the city of Maitland and the towns of Kurri Kurri, Nelson Bay, Raymond Terrace and Salamander Bay. It covers most of the Port Stephens, and Maitland local government areas along with a small outer part of the City of Newcastle and parts of the northern end of the City of Cessnock.


Since 1984, federal electoral division boundaries in Australia have been determined at redistributions by a redistribution committee appointed by the Australian Electoral Commission. Redistributions occur for the boundaries of divisions in a particular state, and they occur every seven years, or sooner if a state's representation entitlement changes or when divisions of a state are malapportioned.[1]


Banjo Paterson, the division's namesake

Paterson was first created at the redistribution of 11 May 1949. It was named after Banjo Paterson although there is conjecture that it was originally named after Colonel William Paterson who also gave his name to the Paterson River and the town of Paterson, both of which were situated within the electorate.[2] It was first contested at the 1949 election. At the time it included the towns of Singleton, Maitland and Muswellbrook. Redistributions eventually moved the electorate north until it included Gunnedah and Mudgee. This incarnation was held by the conservative parties—Liberal and National—for its entire existence, and for most of that time was safely conservative. The original electorate was abolished at the 11 October 1984 redistribution.

At the redistribution of 31 January 1992 the electorate was recreated, covering a similar area to the original electorate. It extended from the lower Hunter Valley in the south to the Manning River in the north, and the Great Dividing Range in the west. It included the towns of Forster, Nelson Bay, Raymond Terrace and Paterson.

It was first contested at the 1993 federal election and was narrowly won by Bob Horne (Labor). After 1993 the seat was continuously exchanged between Horne and Liberal Bob Baldwin; the seat changed hands in 1996, in 1998 and again in 2001. During this period both Bobs became so well known that name recognition in the division was often in excess of 90% in private party polling.[citation needed]

Horne did not contest the seat at the 2004 election at which Baldwin comfortably defeated a new Labor candidate, former Port Stephens councillor Giovanna Kozary, to retain the seat for the first time. At the 2007 election, Baldwin narrowly defeated new Labor candidate Jim Arneman, a Health Services Union organiser.[3] Baldwin faced Arneman again in 2010 election and was reelected on a swing of four percent, garnering enough votes to win on the first count. At the 2013 election, Baldwin further consolidated his hold on the seat, again winning enough votes to win on the first count. His nearest competitor was Bay Marshall (Labor).[4][5]

2015 redistribution

Division of Paterson (green) within New South Wales, prior to the 2015 redistribution

In 2015 the Australian Electoral Commission announced plans to abolish the federation seat of Hunter. Electors in the north of Hunter would have joined the safe National seat of New England. The roughly 40 percent remainder would have become part of Paterson, where the Liberal margin was to be notionally reduced from 9.8 percent to 0.5 percent as a result.[6][7][8]

However, the new map saw Paterson radically reconfigured into a more compact coastal-based seat in the lower Hunter, covering only 1,123 km2 (434 sq mi) – only one-sixth of its previous territory. It also absorbed some territory previously in the Labor strongholds of Hunter and Newcastle. The new map completely erased the Liberal majority; on its new boundaries, it had a paper-thin notional Labor majority of 0.3 percent.[9] Baldwin opted not to contest the 2016 election.[10] ABC election analyst Antony Green wrote that even with the knife-edge notional Labor majority, the Liberals would have found it extremely difficult to hold the reconfigured Paterson. Not only had the Liberals lost Baldwin's personal vote, but the Liberals had been late in finding a replacement.[11] The seat was won by the Labor candidate, Meryl Swanson, on a swing of over 10 percent, turning it into a safe Labor seat for the first time in its current incarnation.[12]


First incarnation (19491984)
Image Member Party Term Notes
  Allen Fairhall
Liberal 10 December 1949
29 September 1969
Served as minister under Menzies, Holt, McEwen and Gorton. Retired
  Frank O'Keefe
Country 25 October 1969
2 May 1975
Previously held the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of Upper Hunter. Retired after Paterson was abolished in 1984
  National Country 2 May 1975 –
16 October 1982
  Nationals 16 October 1982 –
26 October 1984
Second incarnation (1993–present)
Image Member Party Term Notes
  Bob Horne
Labor 13 March 1993
2 March 1996
Lost seat
  Bob Baldwin
Liberal 2 March 1996
3 October 1998
Lost seat
  Bob Horne
Labor 3 October 1998
10 November 2001
Lost seat
  Bob Baldwin
Liberal 10 November 2001
9 May 2016
  Meryl Swanson
Labor 2 July 2016

Election results

2022 Australian federal election: Paterson[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labor Meryl Swanson 46,725 40.67 −0.41
Liberal Brooke Vitnell 42,142 36.68 +4.16
One Nation Neil Turner 9,363 8.15 −6.01
Greens Louise Ihlein 8,677 7.55 +0.65
United Australia Jason Olbourne 4,474 3.89 +0.28
Informed Medical Options Angela Ketas 1,883 1.64 +1.64
Liberal Democrats Sonia Bailey 1,621 1.41 +1.41
Total formal votes 114,885 94.93 +0.78
Informal votes 6,142 5.07 −0.78
Turnout 121,027 91.66 −1.58
Two-party-preferred result
Labor Meryl Swanson 61,247 53.31 −1.73
Liberal Brooke Vitnell 53,638 46.69 +1.73
Labor hold Swing −1.73
Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on
Primary vote results in Paterson (Second incarnation) (Parties that did not get 5% of the vote are omitted)
  One Nation
  Palmer United/United Australia Party
Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on
Two-candidate-preferred results in Paterson (Second incarnation)


  1. ^ Muller, Damon (14 November 2017). "The process of federal redistributions: a quick guide". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Divisional Profiles: Paterson". Australian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 26 January 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  3. ^ Smee, Ben (22 February 2010). "Bob Baldwin labels challenger Jim Arneman 'union hack'". The Newcastle Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  4. ^ "NSW Division – Paterson, NSW". Virtual Tally Room, Election 2013. Australian Electoral Commission. 24 September 2013. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  5. ^ Davis, Belinda-Jane (9 April 2013). "Labor selects Marshall in federal battle for Paterson". Maitland Mercury. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  6. ^ "Australian Electoral Commission to abolish Federal NSW seat of Hunter - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 16 October 2015. Archived from the original on 10 October 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  7. ^ "Draft federal redistribution of New South Wales - The Poll Bludger". 16 October 2015. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Antony Green's Election Blog: 2016 Federal Election Pendulum (Update)". 13 March 2016. Archived from the original on 29 July 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Pendulum - Australia Votes | Federal Election 2016 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 2 July 2016. Archived from the original on 18 July 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Paterson – Australia Votes". 13 April 2016. Archived from the original on 10 May 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  11. ^ "New South Wales – Australia Votes". 13 April 2016. Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  12. ^ McGowan, Michael (2 July 2016). "Paterson Australian federal election results 2016: Labor's Swanson secures clean sweep". Newcastle Herald. Fairfax Regional Media. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  13. ^ Paterson, NSW, 2022 Tally Room, Australian Electoral Commission.
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Division of Paterson
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