Factbox: Snapshot of key marginal seats (2010)

A handful of seats across the country are likely to decide the outcome of the federal election.

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Find out what they by clicking on a state below.

NSW and ACT, Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania.

New South Wales

Bennelong in NSW is held by former journalist Maxine McKew (ALP by 1.4 per cent). It was lost to the Liberal Party in 2007 after a 5.5 per cent swing.

Bennelong is easily the most culturally diverse marginal seat in Australia, with 37.5 per cent of residents born overseas, compared to the national average of just over 22 per cent.

There are a high proportion of residents with Chinese backgrounds (over 10 per cent).

The rural seat of Eden-Monaro is held by Mike Kelly (ALP by 2.3 per cent) and was gained from Liberal Party after 6.7 per cent swing in the last federal election.

Eden-Monaro includes the large towns of Bega, Eden, Jindabyne, Merimbula and Queanbeyan.

There are a sizable number of retirees living in the area.

The largest areas of employment are in government and livestock farming.

Greenway is held by the Liberal Party; however, in the 2007 election there was a 6.9 per cent swing towards the ALP. The Liberal Party currently holds the seat with a 5.7 per cent margin.

It was held by Labor for 20 years from its creation in 1984. Liberal candidate Louise Markus won the seat in 2004.

Hughes encompasses the local government areas of Bankstown, Liverpool and Sutherland in Sydney’s south and south-west.

It is currently held by the Liberal Party’s Danna Vale by a 0.5 per cent margin after a 6.4 per cent swing towards the ALP in 2007.

Despite an affluent demographic profile, Hughes was held by the Labor Party for almost three decades until being won by the Liberal Party in 1996 after a huge swing.

Cowper is currently held by Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker. He has held the seat since 2001, but currently only holds it by a 1.2 per cent margin. It is the most marginal Nationals seat in the country.

Cowper covers an area of approximately 7,861 sq km from Kempsey in the south to Maclean in the north.

Traditionally a rural electorate, it is increasingly dominated by tourism and retirement service industries in the growing coastal communities.

According to the 2006 Census, Cowper has the nation’s lowest median family income.

After a seven per cent swing to the ALP, Belinda Neal gained the seat of Robertson in the 2007 federal election.

She holds the seat by a tiny 0.1 per cent margin.

Ms Neal was unsuccessful in her preselection bid in this year’s election, which may affect the ALP’s chances of regaining the seat.

The seat includes the areas of Gosford, Terrigal, Woy Woy and Erina.

North Sydney is the third largest business centre in Australia.

It contains communications, property and business services, as well as wholesale and retail industries.

Liberal heavyweight Joe Hockey has been the member of the electorate since 1996.

However, in the latest election, the Liberal member lost ground with a 4.7 per cent swing to the ALP.

Victoria

Deakin is held by the ALP’s Mike Symon, after a 6.4% swing away from the Liberals in the last election. Symon holds the seat by a margin of 1.4 per cent.

The seat is one suburban Melbourne’s only marginal electorates, and is also one the most culturally diverse in the state.

Situated in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, it includes the suburbs of Blackburn, Nunawading, Mitcham, Ringwood and Croydon South.

Deakin has been a mainly a Liberal seat since its inception in 1937. It was one by Labor in the late 1980s, and then again in the 2007 election.

A sizable population of people in the electorate are born in China or India.

The federal seat of McEwen is currently held by former Howard minister, Fran Bailey. After a 6.4 per cent swing towards Labor in the last election, she holds the seat with a margin of only 0.2 per cent.

McEwen stretches from the fringe northern and eastern suburbs of Melbourne into the central highlands.

Government reports show McEwen is now one of the fastest growing regions due to migration, which could potentially change the voting demographic of the seat.

Queensland

The federal electorate of Forde, was regained by the ALP after the 2007 federal election with the largest swing in a country – 14.4 per cent.

The seat is situated in South-east Queensland and is held by ALP member Brett Raguse by a 3.4 per cent margin.

The electorate is named after Frank Forde, Prime Minister for 8 days in 1945 between the death of John Curtin and election of Ben Chifley as Labor leader.

Brisbane’s seat of Bonner went from the Liberals to the ALP in the last election.

It is currently held by Kerry Rea (4.5 per cent margin) after gaining a five per cent swing.

The seat was proclaimed in 2004 following redistribution.

Bowman, in Brisbane’s south, is the most marginal seat in the country is currently held by Andrew Laming by less than 0.01 per cent.

It was regained by the Liberal Party after 8.9 per cent swing away from the ALP in the 2007 election.

The seat covers the whole of the Redlands Shire to the east of Brisbane, along with North Stradbroke Island and a small part of Logan City around Carbrook.

Dawson is held by the ALP by 2.6 per cent and was gained from the National Party after a 13.2 per cent swing.

The large central Queensland electorate stretches from Mackay to Chelona in the south. It also includes the Whitsunday and Lindeman group of islands.

Its second largest industry employer is coal mining.

Held by the Liberal Party since 1996, Herbert in Queensland is noted for its copper, nickel and zinc refineries.

It is one of the most marginal seats in the country held by Labor with only a 0.03 per cent margin.

Northern Territory

Solomon, in the Northern Territory, takes into account Darwin Airport and surrounding areas.

The seat’s current MP is Labor’s Damian Hale, who holds the seat by a margin of just 0.2 per cent. The seat has one of the highes proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voters.

South Australia

Kingston, in South Australia, is held by a margin of 4.4 per cent. In 2007, it was gained by the Labor Party’s Amanda Rishworth after 4.5 per cent swing.

Kingston covers an area of approximately 377 sq km from Hallett Cove and O’Halloran Hill in the north to Sellicks Beach in the south.

Main industries in the area include wineries, motor vehicle production, major retailing and various small industries.

Western Australia

The outer metropolitan seat of Hasluck in Western Australia is currently held by the ALP by only the slightest margin of 0.9 per cent – after a 3.1 per cent swing in the last election.

The seat was first proclaimed in 2001.

Stirling – named after Sir James Stirling, the first Governor-General of Western Australia.

In the 2007 election, a 0.8 per cent swing against Labor gave the seat to the Liberal Party with a narrow 1.3 per cent margin.

Tasmania

Bass covers an area of approximately 7,378 sq km from Launceston in the south to Flinders Island in the north.

As a result of a 3.6 per cent swing, Jodie Campbell (ALP) claimed Bass in 2007 – with a one per cent margin. Campbell will not recontest the seat at the 2010 election.

Bass is known for its manufacturing, mining and tourism industries.

Other key seats of note:

Wentworth, the seat currently held by former Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull.

Melbourne, the seat vacated by Labor heavyweight Lindsay Tanner.