Margin: vacant,LIB 9.9 per cent v ALP
Luke Arms (Independent) Marc Sky (Independent)
Jane Oakley (Greens)
Suellen Wrightson (Palmer United-backed Independent)
Jodie Harrison (Labor)
Luke Cubis (Independent)
Arjay Martin (Independent)
Reverend Brian Tucker (Christian Democrats)
Veronica Hope (Independent)
Electorate profile: Adamstown, Adamstown Heights, Belmont North, Bennetts Green, Cardiff, Cardiff South, Charlestown, Dudley, Eleebana, Floraville, Garden Suburb, Gateshead, Highfields, Hillsborough, Jewells, Kahibah, Kotara, Kotara South, Mount Hutton, Redhead, Tingira Heights, Warners Bay, Whitebridge, Windale
THE ALP had always held Charlestown until one of the biggest swings to the Liberal Party in the state occurred at the 2011 poll.
Although it has campaigned ever since to regain its other losses of Newcastle, Swansea and Maitland, Charlestown appeared long gone for Labor due to the changing demographics of many suburbs and the popularity of Andrew Cornwell, both of which had transformed the electorate into effectively safe Liberal territory.
But now it is a real prospect again, far sooner than Labor could have dreamed, following the Liberal MP’s dramatic fall from grace at the ICAC and his former party’s decision not to contest the byelection.
The seat was created in 1971. Labor’s Richard Face, the former gaming and racing minister in the Carr government, held it for three decades from 1972 until his retirement in 2003.
Matthew Morris, the son of former federal Labor MP Peter Morris, then took over, before he was spectacularly beaten by Cardiff vet Cornwell. It has since emerged Cornwell accepted money from developers Hilton Grugeon and Jeff McCloy that was spent on his campaign.
Once earmarked a future minister, the government whip moved to the cross bench, then resigned from parliament on the same day as Newcastle’s Time Owen.
The seat covers those suburbs where Lake Macquarie and Newcastle meet.
Cornwell had major wins at booths in Eleebana Public, Garden Suburb Public and Kotara High.
With no major contentious issue similar to Newcastle’s rail line, the campaign is dominated by bread and butter issues such as health funding and jobs, although a mooted merger between Lake Macquarie and Newcastle councils and the quest to build the Glendale interchange project have arisen.
Labor’s candidate is the best known. Jodie Harrison was preselected prior to Cornwell’s resignation, and is the popularly-elected mayor of Lake Macquarie.
She has served on the council since 2008.
Small business owner and Greens candidate Jane Oakley contested the last federal election in the seat of Shortland for her party.
Suellen Wrightson is backed by billionaire Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party, but will appear on the ballot as an independent because the party isn’t registered for NSW elections.
Brian Tucker is contesting Charlestown for the Christian Democrats Party.
Several independents are standing; Veronica Hope, Luke Arms, Marc Sky, Luke Cubis and Arjay Martin.