Division of Hunter

The Division of Hunter is an Australian electoral division in the state of New South Wales. The division was proclaimed in 1900, and was one of the original 65 divisions to be contested at the first federal election. The division was named after Captain John Hunter, the second Governor of New South Wales. It covers rural, regional and suburban areas centred on the Hunter Region, including the towns of Singleton, Muswellbrook and Cessnock. It also extends into parts of Greater Newcastle, covering suburbs such as Cameron Park, Edgeworth, Toronto and Morisset.

Australian House of Representatives Division
Division of Hunter in New South Wales, as of the 2016 federal election.
MPJoel Fitzgibbon
NamesakeJohn Hunter
Electors121,560 (2019)
Area10,640 km2 (4,108.1 sq mi)

The current member since the 1996 federal election, is Joel Fitzgibbon, a member of the Australian Labor Party.


The seat has been in Labor hands since 1910, and for most of that time has been reasonably safe for that party. The Hunter Region has been one of the few areas outside of capital cities where Labor has consistently done well. Among its notable members have been first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, former Labor Leaders Matthew Charlton and Dr H.V. Evatt, and Joel Fitzgibbon, who was a minister in the first and second Rudd governments.

The seat has been held by two father-son combinations. Rowley James held the seat from 1928 to 1958 before giving it up for Evatt, who was in danger of losing his Sydney-area seat of Barton and wanted a friendlier seat in which to run. Evatt was succeeded after one term by Rowley James' son, Bert, who held it until 1980. Eric Fitzgibbon won the seat in 1984, handing it to his son and current member, Joel, in 1996.

Two-party vote count

Hunter had become somewhat marginal in the 1980s when much of its territory was shifted to the newly created Charlton. Since 1990, Labor has never tallied less than 53 percent of the two-party-preferred vote. Labor's worst two-party-preferred vote was 2.4% in 1984 and best result when challenged by an opposing center-right candidate was 80.6% in 1961.

First-preference vote count

Labor's worst first-preference vote was in 2019, when the current member won only 37.5% of the primary vote; the previous 100-year worst being 44.5% in 2013, again by the incumbent member. Labor's best primary vote was a thumping 76.9% in 1946. As of 2019, the Division of Hunter is considered a marginal seat.

2015 proposed abolition

In 2015 the Australian Electoral Commission announced plans to abolish the federation seat of Hunter. Due to changing populations, overall, New South Wales was to lose a seat while Western Australia was to gain an extra seat. Electors in the north of Hunter were to join New England. The roughly 40 percent remainder were to become part of Paterson, with the Liberal margin calculated to be notionally reduced from 9.8 percent to just 0.5 percent as a result. Since the Commission's guidelines require it to preserve the names of original electorates where possible, the commission proposed renaming Charlton to Hunter.[1][2][3]

The final plan, however, saw Charlton abolished, with Hunter pushed slightly eastward to absorb much of Charlton's former territory.[4] While most of the new Hunter's voters come from the old Charlton, as previously mentioned, Commission guidelines required the name of Hunter to be retained.[5] The Labor incumbent for Charlton, Pat Conroy, brokered a factional deal to contest neighbouring Shortland in order to allow Fitzgibbon to continue to represent Hunter.


Image Member Party Term Notes
  (Sir) Edmund Barton
Protectionist 30 March 1901
30 September 1903
Previously held the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of Hastings and Macleay. Served as Prime Minister from 1901 to 1903. Resigned in order to become a Justice of the High Court
  Frank Liddell
Free Trade 16 December 1903
Lost seat
  Anti-Socialist 1906 –
26 May 1909
  Commonwealth Liberal 26 May 1909 –
13 April 1910
  Matthew Charlton
Labor 13 April 1910
9 October 1928
Previously held the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of Northumberland. Served as Opposition Leader from 1922 to 1928. Retired
  Rowley James
Labor 9 October 1928
27 March 1931
Retired. Son was Bert James
  Labor (NSW) 27 March 1931
February 1936
  Labor February 1936 –
14 October 1958
  Dr. H.V. Evatt
Labor 22 November 1958
10 February 1960
Previously held the Division of Barton. Served as Opposition Leader from 1951 to 1960. Resigned in order to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales
  Bert James
Labor 9 April 1960
19 September 1980
Retired. Father was Rowley James
  Bob Brown
Labor 18 October 1980
1 December 1984
Previously held the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of Cessnock. Transferred to the Division of Charlton
  Eric Fitzgibbon
Labor 1 December 1984
29 January 1996
Retired. Son is Joel Fitzgibbon
  Joel Fitzgibbon
Labor 2 March 1996
Served as minister under Rudd. Served as Chief Government Whip in the House under Gillard. Incumbent. Father was Eric Fitzgibbon

Election results

2019 Australian federal election: Hunter[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labor Joel Fitzgibbon 38,331 37.57 −14.22
National Josh Angus 23,942 23.47 −2.87
One Nation Stuart Bonds 22,029 21.59 +21.59
Greens Janet Murray 7,007 6.87 −0.22
United Australia Paul Davies 4,407 4.32 +4.32
Animal Justice James Murphy 3,267 3.20 +3.20
Christian Democrats Richard Stretton 2,356 2.31 −1.07
Socialist Equality Max Boddy 687 0.67 +0.67
Total formal votes 102,026 91.03 −1.09
Informal votes 10,049 8.97 +1.09
Turnout 112,075 92.29 −0.04
Two-party-preferred result
Labor Joel Fitzgibbon 54,050 52.98 −9.48
National Josh Angus 47,976 47.02 +9.48
Labor hold Swing −9.48


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