The new-look federal seats of Hunter and Paterson will head to the polls for the first time this Saturday.
The electoral boundaries were redrawn in January, with the Cessnock local government area divided now over two electorates.
If you live from Neath towards Maitland, you now reside in the Paterson electorate.
Currently held by retiring Liberal Bob Baldwin, the seat is considered notionally Labor following the redistribution.
The rest of the Cessnock LGA remains in the seat of Hunter, along with the Singleton and Muswellbrook LGAs, and parts of Lake Macquarie.
Hunter was technically abolished under the redistribution, to make way for an extra seat in Western Australia.
The former seat of Charlton, which makes up about 60 per cent of the new Hunter electorate, was renamed Hunter out of respect for the Federation seat.
Joel Fitzgibbon will contest the seat of Hunter, and current Charlton MP Pat Conroy is running in Shortland, following the retirement of Jill Hall.
Hunter has been held by Labor since Federation, and by Mr Fitzgibbon since 1996.
And that trend looks likely to continue – according to poll analysts, Hunter has an estimated Labor margin of 5.7 per cent.
The Coalition announced a Nationals candidate for Hunter – Singleton councillor Ruth Rogers – the day before nominations closed.
Traditionally a swinging seat, Paterson looks more likely to be a close contest between Labor’s Meryl Swanson and the Liberals’ Karen Howard.
Both parties have pledged millions towards fixing flood-stricken Testers Hollow.
The main road between Cessnock and Maitland has been cut off by floodwaters four times in nine years, and has been plagued by flooding for at least 90 years.
Labor announced its $10 million promise on June 18, with the Coalition pledging to kick in $15 million 10 days later.
Whatever the result in Paterson, residents in the north-east corner of the Cessnock LGA are set to experience life in a marginal seat – some for the first time.
If that is what it takes to get some attention for Testers Hollow, then it can only be a good thing.
Besides the announcements about Testers Hollow, it has been a relatively quiet federal election campaign in the region – but who knows what the next three days will bring.
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