‘Yes’. ‘Yes’. ‘Yes’. The message from voters in the Illawarra’s three federal electorates was clear – it’s time for change.
In voting behaviour that mimicked the nationwide trend, more than 60 per cent of respondents in each area supported a law change so same-sex couples can marry.
Sharon Bird’s Labor-held seat of Cunningham (which covers the coastal area from Helensburgh to Warrawong) was the most supportive electorate, with 65.7 per cent of voters saying ‘yes’.
In Whitlam, held by Labor’s Stephen Jones, 62.3 per cent of returned surveys were in favour.
The newly-named seat, formerly Throsby, takes in much of the Southern Highlands and the area from Unanderra to Dunmore.
Further south in the marginal division of Gilmore, where sitting Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis refused to reveal her stance before the survey result was revealed, the ‘yes’ response was 62 per cent.
“The Gilmore people have indicated that they want a yes vote; l will support a yes vote in the House of Representatives,” Ms Sudmalis said.
The Illawarra’s three federal seats were among 67 nationwide that had a ‘yes’ vote of between 60 and 70 per cent.
The overall NSW ‘yes’ vote was 57.8 per cent.
An analysis of the survey data, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, showed the participation rate of Illawarra voters generally increased in line with respondents’ ages.
Bucking that trend were new voters, aged 18-19, and 20-24 year olds.
Those aged 70-74 were the most involved in the survey across all three areas, with a participation rate of more than 90 per cent in each.
The lowest number of Illawarra responses came from men aged 25-29 years in Gilmore, with a participation rate of 63.9 per cent.
The 25-29 age group, for both genders, was the least involved in the survey across all three electorates.
The overall participation rates for each Illawarra seat were all above the NSW figure of 79.5 per cent.
When it came to unreturned surveys, Whitlam residents topped the list with 23,064 non-responses (19.9 per cent of the total eligible participants).
There were very few unclear responses.