Part of the Hume electorate. Photo by Nick Crawford and Dean Austin.
The Hume electorate is one of the oldest electorates in Australia and was formed upon Federation in 1901. It is a rural provincial electorate that has been held by the Liberal-National Coalition since 1974.
Hume was created in 1901, making it one of the original seventy-five electoral divisions of Federation. It was named after Hamilton Hume, an early explorer famous for taking the first route from Sydney to Geelong. A mostly rural electorate, Hume’s two major industries are agriculture and mining. At last count, in 2013, there were 102,291 electors enrolled within Hume. In early 2016, the electorate's boundaries were redistributed, gaining the outskirts of metropolitan Sydney but losing a large number of townships in the electorate's western section. The effect has been to increase the sitting Liberal Party member’s margin by 2.1%.
Considered a conservative seat, the electorate has been held by Liberal and National Party members since 1974, with Frank Olley the last Labor candidate to have won the seat. The incumbent MP is Angus Taylor, who took over from long-serving Liberal Party MP Alby Schultz in 2013. At that year’s election, Taylor won 53.97% of the first preference vote.
In February 2016, amid rumours that a neighouring MP for Macarthur, Russell Matheson, wanted to change seats, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull intervened to ensure Taylor’s preselection. Taylor will now contest this year’s election against Labor candidate Aoife Champion, who was pre-selected in March.
Industries within Hume are split depending on the townships. Larger cities, such as Goulburn, act as retail and healthcare hubs, while rural areas, such as Boorowa Shire, are sustained through agriculture. A stronger focus on retail trade may eventuate with the addition of Camden and Liverpool councils in the recent redistribution.
In that redistribution, Hume lost the township of Yass to the seat of Eden-Monaro, and it lost Cootamundra, Cowra and Young to the electorate of Riverina. It gained Exeter from the seat of Throsby, and suburban Camden and Narellan from the seat of Macarthur. Camden and Narellan are not regional areas but their largely Liberal Party-voting populace have ensured that the Liberal Party margin has increased by a forecast 2.1%. The redistribution changes result in the total area of Hume shrinking from 33, 637sq km to 17,240sq km.
The added population of Camden and Narellan have altered the electorate's demographics. In the 2013 election, Hume was classified as a rural electorate. By exchanging Cowra, Weddin, Young, Harden, Cootamundra and Yass for the outer reaches of Sydney’s south-west, the electorate is now classified as provincial, with the majority of its enrolment in regional cities.
Goulburn was previously the largest population centre in the electorate, with approximately 29,000 residents. However, the addition of Camden and Narellan has brought another 35,000 residents into the seat, and with the further development at Wilton Junction, Hume’s population base will continue to shift eastward to Sydney’s outer suburbs.
This change in population distribution creates a focus on development projects located around Sydney, such as the new Sydney airport located at Badgerys Creek, which is directly adjacent to the eastern border of the Hume electorate. As such, the focus on Canberra—which acted as a centre to the previous rural areas included in the electorate—is likely to lessen.
Consequently, the overall voting preferences of the Division of Hume have not changed markedly. However, the needs of its voters have shifted dramatically and will continue to do so as the population growth in outer Sydney continues.