New South Wales state election, 2003

New South Wales state election, 2003
New South Wales state election, 2003
New South Wales
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
  First party Second party
Replace this image male.svg
Replace this image male.svg
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 increase0.21 increase0.66

Premier before election

Bob Carr

Elected Premier

Bob Carr

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 Australian Labor Party led by Bob Carr won a third four-year term against the Liberal-National Coalition led by John Brogden.



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.

Electoral System

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



In the New South Wales Legislative Assembly:

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

Changing hands

  • Camden. Liberal seat won by Labor with a swing of 8.9%
  • Clarence. Labor seat won by a National with a swing of 1.9%
  • Monaro. National seat won by Labor with a swing of 2.8%
  • South Coast. Labor seat won by a Liberal with a swing of 2.7%
  • Tamworth. National seat won by an independent with a swing of 9.3%

See also

  • Candidates of the New South Wales state election, 2003


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