2003 New South Wales state election

Elections to the 53rd Parliament of New South Wales were held on Saturday 22 March 2003. All seats in the Legislative Assembly and half the seats in the Legislative Council were up for election. The Labor Party led by Bob Carr won a third four-year term against the Liberal-National Coalition led by John Brogden.

2003 New South Wales state election

← 1999 22 March 2003 (2003-03-22) 2007 →

All 93 seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
and 21 (of the 42) seats in the New South Wales Legislative Council
47 Assembly seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Bob Carr.jpg John Brogden office Sydney.jpg
Leader Bob Carr John Brogden
Party Labor Liberal/National coalition
Leader since 6 April 1988 28 March 2002
Leader's seat Maroubra Pittwater
Last election 55 seats 33 seats
Seats won 55 seats 32 seats
Seat change Steady0 Decrease1
Percentage 42.68% 34.35%
Swing Increase0.47 Increase0.66

New South Wales Legislative Assembly 2003.svg
Legislative Assembly after the election

Premier before election

Bob Carr

Elected Premier

Bob Carr

Future New South Wales premiers, Gladys Berejiklian and Kristina Keneally, entered parliament at this election.[1]


In the 18 months following the 1999 election politics was swamped by the Olympics. The only problem in this period was an administrative disaster in organising the ballot to purchase tickets. Games organisers were trying to hold back tickets originally promised at a lower price to the public in an attempt to deal with the financial viability of the Olympics. Chikarovski remained as Liberal leader after the 1999 election, partly because no-one wanted the job before the Olympics, but also because there was no clear alternative. A challenge finally occurred in March 2002, and Pittwater MP John Brogden, after six years in Parliament, was elected to the leadership on his 33rd birthday.

After the Olympics, the Government faced two major problems. The first was the police. The Government had appointed an outsider, Englishman Peter Ryan, as new Commissioner to implement the reforms proposed by the Police Royal Commission. By 2001, police issues had moved on from corruption and returned to law and order, with the Government in particular under pressure over so-called "ethnic" crime in Western Sydney. Both Police Minister Paul Whelan and Commissioner Ryan were pushed into retiring, and new Minister Michael Costa was brought in to control the issue in the run-up to the 2003 election.

The second problem was the rail system. In a bid to create efficiencies, the Government had split the rail system into distinct organisations covering track, rolling stock, freight and passengers. Following a spate of accidents, including fatalities at Springwood in December 1999, a commission of inquiry was appointed. Its findings were that the accidents stemmed from confusion in the new structure of the rail system, and also a failure by the railway organisation to view safety as an operational goal. Another accident at Waterfall a month before the official start of the election campaign looked set to make rail safety a critical election issue, but the cause turned out to be the demise of the driver at the controls. Events after the election were to reveal major problems in the rail system, but they were not to become major issues in the campaign.

The 2003 election was almost a repeat of the 1999 result. The Liberal Party regained South Coast but lost the outer Sydney seat of Camden. The National Party regained Clarence with the retirement of Harry Woods, but lost Monaro to the Labor Party. Worse for the National Party, both Tamworth and Port Macquarie were lost to Independents: Tamworth after having been regained at a 2001 by-election, Port Macquarie after the decision of the National MP to leave the Party.

On the surface the result looked a repeat of 1999, but on closer analysis, Labor had increased its hold on Government. Despite a statewide two-party swing of just 0.2% to Labor, the party increased its margins in key seats. The seats clustered around the bottom of the electoral pendulum ahead of the 1999 election were now all safe seats for the Government. With another redistribution due before the next election in 2007 election, Labor appeared to have entrenched itself in power.

The election was the second to be fought by Carr as the incumbent Premier and became the first incumbent Premier to fight back to back elections since Neville Wran. To date Carr is also the last Premier to fight a second consecutive election.

In his concession speech Brogden promised that he will be back for the 2007 election but it was a promise that was not kept as he resigned as Liberal leader and then from Parliament in 2005.

Electoral systemEdit

The New South Wales Legislative Assembly consists of 93 members, elected in single-member electorates by optional preferential voting.

The New South Wales Legislative Council consists of 42 members, elected at large by optional preferential single transferable voting, with 21 elected at each election to serve two Legislative Assembly terms.

Terms are fixed at four years, with elections being held in late March.


Legislative AssemblyEdit

New South Wales state election, 22 March 2003 [2]
Legislative Assembly
<< 19992007 >>

Enrolled voters 4,272,104
Votes cast 3,924,676 Turnout 91.87% -1.25%
Informal votes 102,872 Informal 2.62% +0.11%
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 1,631,018 42.68 +0.47 55 0
  Liberal 944,888 24.72 –0.10 20 0
  National 368,004 9.63 +0.76 12 –1
  Greens 315,370 8.25 +4.37 0 0
  Independent 313,106 8.19 +3.09 6 +1
  Christian Democrats 65,937 1.73 +0.23 0 0
  Unity 49,597 1.30 +0.24 0 0
  One Nation 48,846 1.28 -6.25 0 0
  Democrats 35,477 0.93 -2.40 0 0
  Other 49,561 1.30 -0.41 0 0
Total 3,821,804     93  
  Labor 1,867,386 56.18% +0.22%
  Liberal/National 1,456,640 43.82% –0.22%
Popular vote
Christian Democrats
One Nation
Two-party-preferred vote
Parliamentary seats

Legislative CouncilEdit

New South Wales state election, 22 March 2003
Legislative Council[3][4]
<< 19992007 >>

Enrolled voters 4,272,104
Votes cast 3,931,308 Turnout 92.02 –1.11
Informal votes 209,851 Informal 5.34 –1.83
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes % Swing Seats
  Labor 1,620,190 43.54 +6.27 10 18
  Liberal/National Coalition 1,239,107 33.30 +5.91 7 13
  Greens 320,010 8.60 +5.69 2 3
  Christian Democrats 112,865 3.03 –0.14 1 2
  Shooters 76,133 2.05 +0.38 1 1
  Hanson Group 71,368 1.92 +1.92 0 0
  Democrats 58,494 1.57 –2.44 0 1
  One Nation 55,396 1.49 –4.85 0 1
  Unity 52,979 1.42 +0.44 0 1
  FP/HRP/4WD 39,315 1.06 +0.85 0 0
  Against Further Immigration 33,409 0.90 +0.59 0 0
  Save Our Suburbs 18,033 0.48 +0.48 0 0
  Legal System Reform 9,644 0.26 –0.74 0 1
  No Privatisation Peoples Party 6,652 0.18 +0.12 0 0
  Socialist Alliance 5,428 0.15 +0.15 0 0
  Independent 2,434 0.07 +0.05 0 0
  Outdoor Recreation 0 1
Total 3,721,457     21  


In the New South Wales Legislative Assembly:

Elections were held for half the seats in the New South Wales Legislative Council:

Seats changing handsEdit

Seat Pre-2003 Swing Post-2003
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Camden   Liberal Liz Kernohan 3.5 -8.9 5.4 Geoff Corrigan Labor  
Clarence   Labor Harry Woods 0.2 -1.8 1.6 Steve Cansdell National  
Monaro   National Peter Webb 0.2 -3.5 3.3 Steve Whan Labor  
South Coast   Labor Wayne Smith 0.5 -3.3 2.8 Shelley Hancock Liberal  
Tamworth§   National John Cull 8.7 -11.2 2.5 Peter Draper Independent  

§ Tamworth was won by the Nationals in a 2001 by-election and the shown swing is based on it. At the 1999 election it was won by independent Tony Windsor.

  • Members' names shown in italics did not recontest their seats.

Post-election pendulumEdit

Labor seats (55)
Monaro Steve Whan ALP 3.3%
Tweed Neville Newell ALP 3.8%
Camden Geoff Corrigan ALP 5.4%
Fairly safe
Penrith Karyn Paluzzano ALP 6.1%
Murray-Darling Peter Black ALP 6.7%
Port Jackson Sandra Nori ALP 7.3% v GRN
Drummoyne Angela D'Amore ALP 8.7%
Heathcote Paul McLeay ALP 8.7%
Maitland John Price ALP 8.9%
Miranda Barry Collier ALP 9.1%
Port Stephens John Bartlett ALP 9.3%
Menai Alison Megarrity ALP 9.5%
The Entrance Grant McBride ALP 9.6%
Peats Marie Andrews ALP 9.7%
Marrickville Andrew Refshauge ALP 10.7% v GRN
Wyong Paul Crittenden ALP 11.1%
Coogee Paul Pearce ALP 12.6%
Parramatta Tanya Gadiel ALP 13.4%
Georges River Kevin Greene ALP 13.7%
Bathurst Gerard Martin ALP 14.1%
Lake Macquarie Jeff Hunter ALP 14.5%
Charlestown Matthew Morris ALP 14.7%
Blue Mountains Bob Debus ALP 14.8%
Newcastle Bryce Gaudry ALP 14.8%
Wentworthville Pam Allan ALP 14.8%
Londonderry Allan Shearan ALP 15.3% v IND
Cessnock Kerry Hickey ALP 15.5%
Ryde John Watkins ALP 15.5%
Strathfield Virginia Judge ALP 15.8%
Rockdale Frank Sartor ALP 15.9%
Riverstone John Aquilina ALP 16.1%
Kiama Matt Brown ALP 16.9%
Wollongong Noreen Hay ALP 17.3% v IND
Mulgoa Diane Beamer ALP 17.9%
East Hills Alan Ashton ALP 18.5%
Kogarah Cherie Burton ALP 19.2%
Granville Kim Yeadon ALP 19.5%
Campbelltown Graham West ALP 19.6%
Wallsend John Mills ALP 20.7%
Macquarie Fields Craig Knowles ALP 22.5%
Keira David Campbell ALP 22.5% v GRN
Maroubra Bob Carr ALP 23.5%
Heffron Kristina Keneally ALP 23.9%
Blacktown Paul Gibson ALP 24.5%
Illawarra Marianne Saliba ALP 24.8%
Mount Druitt Richard Amery ALP 26.8%
Fairfield Joe Tripodi ALP 27.0%
Auburn Barbara Perry ALP 27.3%
Lakemba Morris Iemma ALP 27.4%
Canterbury Linda Burney ALP 27.6%
Smithfield Carl Scully ALP 27.8%
Bankstown Tony Stewart ALP 28.6%
Liverpool Paul Lynch ALP 30.7%
Cabramatta Reba Meagher ALP 31.7%
Liberal/National seats (32)
Willoughby Gladys Berejiklian LIB 0.2% v IND
Gosford Chris Hartcher LIB 0.3%
Clarence Steve Cansdell NAT 1.6%
South Coast Shelley Hancock LIB 2.8%
Hornsby Judy Hopwood LIB 3.1%
Lane Cove Anthony Roberts LIB 3.2%
Bega Andrew Constance LIB 3.9%
Burrinjuck Katrina Hodgkinson NAT 4.1%
Baulkham Hills Wayne Merton LIB 5.9%
Fairly safe
Epping Andrew Tink LIB 6.9%
Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser NAT 6.9% v IND
Orange Russell Turner NAT 7.1%
Southern Highlands Peta Seaton LIB 7.6%
Ballina Don Page NAT 9.0%
Cronulla Malcolm Kerr LIB 9.3%
Oxley Andrew Stoner NAT 10.0%
Vaucluse Peter Debnam LIB 10.3%
Albury Greg Aplin LIB 11.5% v IND
The Hills Michael Richardson LIB 11.6%
North Shore Jillian Skinner LIB 12.3%
Wakehurst Brad Hazzard LIB 12.7%
Upper Hunter George Souris NAT 12.7%
Lismore Thomas George NAT 12.8%
Wagga Wagga Daryl Maguire LIB 13.7%
Hawkesbury Steven Pringle LIB 14.1%
Myall Lakes John Turner NAT 15.4%
Barwon Ian Slack-Smith NAT 16.2%
Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli NAT 17.8%
Davidson Andrew Humpherson LIB 19.7%
Pittwater John Brogden LIB 20.1%
Lachlan Ian Armstrong NAT 21.2%
Ku-ring-gai Barry O'Farrell LIB 21.6%
Crossbench seats (6)
Manly David Barr IND 1.3% v LIB
Tamworth Peter Draper IND 2.5% v NAT
Dubbo Tony McGrane IND 5.0% v NAT
Bligh Clover Moore IND 14.7% v ALP
Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay IND 32.4% v NAT
Port Macquarie Rob Oakeshott IND 32.8% v NAT

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Incoming Premier Gladys Berejiklian vows to work for all NSW residents". Nine News. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  2. ^ Green, Antony. "2003 election totals". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Legislative Council first count quota" (PDF). NSW Electoral Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 April 2011.
  4. ^ Green, Antony (October 2003). "New South Wales Legislative Council Elections 2003" (PDF). Background Paper No. 08/2003. Retrieved 29 May 2020.