What's in a name? The seat of Throsby has become Whitlam/Image courtesy Wikimedia
In February this year, the boundaries of the Throsby electorate were changed and with it the electorate acquired a new name - "Whitlam", after former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. The area covers parts of the Illawarra and Southern Highlands regions to the south of Sydney.
A safe Labor seat since 1984, the current MP is the ALP's Stephen Jones. 2016 marks six years in the seat for Jones, who was elected last time with a margin of 6.9 per cent.
His Liberal opponent at this election, Dr Carolyn Currie, withdrew from the contest in late May, only 13 days after her candidature was announced. Currie cited "lack of support" as the main reason for opting out. In a recent interview with the ABC, Currie said she felt “like a general with no troops”,and that lack of party support was to blame.
"I was informed by a number of [Liberal] people...that they did not want a candidate at all," she told the ABC.
"At the moment there are no Liberal Party branches in the Illawarra and there are only three in the Highlands. So therefore I am like a general with no troops and it is very difficult for me to mount any sort of reasonable campaign with no troops, as any general would know.” She suggested a Greens candidate would do well in the area.
A new Liberal candidate, Marcus Hewitt has now stepped into the contest.
The National Party is also fielding a candidate, Jan Mandelson, who was born and raised in the Southern Highlands, and now lives in the electorate's coastal region. Mandelson is hoping to loosen Labor's hold on the seat.
“I know that traditionally it’s been a Labor-held seat but things are changing; the boundaries have changed, people are not as traditional voters as they have been,” Mandelson said.
In addition to being the current MP for the electorate, Stephen Jones is the Shadow Minister for Regional Communications and Shadow Assistant Minister for Health. He's an Illawarra local and attended school and university in Wollongong. He still lives in the region with his wife and two daughters.
In recent comments made to the ABC, Jones implied that Currie, who lives in Sydney but owns a property in the electorate, never stood much of a chance in a close knit electorate like Whitlam: "If you have lived in this area long enough you know half the people in your electorate, you might be related to a third of them," he said.
Jones has spent a great deal of time campaigning with the promise that the Labor Party will fully support Medicare if Bill Shorten is elected in July, and will end the Medicare rebate freeze instituted by the current Turnbull Government.