Seat of the week: Kingsford Smith

Peter Garrett’s Maroubra-area seat has been held by Labor since it was created in 1949, but a creeping demographic tide together with Labor’s electoral woes in NSW has encouraged the Liberals to give the seat a closer look.

Kingsford Smith was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1949 around Clovelly, Coogee and Randwick in Sydney’s inner south-east. Originally held by Labor with narrow margins, their positioned was strengthened when the Maroubra area at the northern entrance to Botany Bay was first added in 1955. The only time their hold has been threatened since was with the 1966 landslide, when the margin was reduced to 1.5%, but there appears to have been a steady trend towards the Liberals in evidence over the past two decades. The seat was held by Hawke government deputy prime minister Lionel Bowen from 1969 to 1990, and then by senior Wran-Unsworth state government minister Laurie Brereton, who served on the front bench from 1993 until his surprise retirement announcement shortly before the 2004 election. The then leader Mark Latham took the opportunity to secure the endorsement for Peter Garrett, nationally famous since the 1980s as the lead singer for Midnight Oil and more recently the president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Garrett was promoted to the front bench as Shadow Environment Minister when Kevin Rudd came to the leadership in December 2006, and he maintained the portfolio in his government. However, his status was been diminished on two occasions during the first term. After the election win Rudd created a separate climate change portfolio, which was entrusted to Penny Wong. This followed a difficult election campaign in which Garrett was pilloried over a “jocular” comment in a casual conversation with talk radio host Steve Price to the effect that Labor would change all its policies when in government. The second occasion resulted from the problematic insulation batts program, for which Greg Combet assumed responsibility in February 2010 through his new position of Minister Assisting the Climate Change Minister.

In common with other Labor members throughout Sydney, the 2010 election took a large bite out of Garrett’s electoral margin, which was reduced from 13.3% to 5.2%. After the election he was reassigned to the school education, early childhood and youth portfolio, defying expectations he would be dropped from cabinet. The portfolio had originally been entitled simply schools, early childhood and youth, but this was changed when it was pointed out the word “education” had not appeared on the cabinet list, its responsibilities having been divided between Garrett and Chris Evans as Jobs, Skills and Workplace Relations Minister. A report that the Prime Minister intended to drop Garrett in the reshuffle conducted in December 2011, but was dissuaded by a threat from Garrett to quit parliament and bring on a by-election in his eminently loseable seat, was firmly denied by all concerned. Having been similarly unable to relegate Robert McClelland due to resistance from the New South Wales Right, the size of cabinet was contentiously increased two places to 22 so the Prime Minister could accommodate her desired promotions.

Early in 2012 the Liberals preselected Michael Feneley, cardiology professor and director of the heart lung program at St Vincent’s Hospital. Feneley was also the candidate in 2010, and ran for Maroubra at the March 2011 state election. There were earlier suggestions that former Parramatta MP Ross Cameron might be interested in seeking a comeback in the seat. In July this year, the ALP determined to pursue a fast-track preselection process that would secure endorsement for Garrett, among others. There had been speculation that local resident Bob Carr might like to use the seat which encompasses his old state electorate of Maroubra to transfer from Senate to House, and there have also been suggestions the seat is of interest to Ben Keneally, husband of the former Premier and mayor of Botany as of the local government elections of September 2012.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

3,069 comments on “Seat of the week: Kingsford Smith”

  1. womble@3037,
    In saying that, can people please not support what Belinda Neal said – it was an absolute disgrace

    You may like to know that it was because of those comments, by Belinda to Sophie Mirabella, among a litany of other infractions and actions, that I spearheaded the movement in the Robertson electorate with a friend of mine, to blast Ms Neal out of the seat of Robertson and replace her with the thoroughly decent human being that is Deborah O’Neill. 🙂

  2. Well done Tone. You’ve played a blinder today.

    Sure did obviously hiding behind Peta somewhere

    It’s a lot easier for him to do now that Peta is pregnant. 🙂

  3. The excuse by Woolies that their Community Relations Manager Berger was at a Private Function is frankly just not good enough. Doesn’t his job involve some sort of liaison with Govt departments at the very least. Yet here he was totally involved in the whole night and all of the rubbish which occurred.What happens outside of work effects many peoples’ employment.It would be unacceptable for most people in this sort of job to be involved in this unacceptable behavior and I can only assume that Woolies as a company supports it if Berger retains his position. At the very least he should go for appalling lack of judgement and being a total FW.
    I would be terribly disappointed if the PM accepts an apology from Jones. Sometimes behavior is just unacceptable and this is one of those times. I would not accept an apology and no reasonable person should expect our PM to. This was not a one off slip of the tongue.

  4. Violence and sexism from the COALition.
    An incomplete list

    – “Mr Abbott observed: “Gillard won’t lie down and die ….”
    – Tony Abbott” Julia Gillard has a “target on her forehead”.
    – Mr Abbott : “Are you suggesting to me that when it comes from Julia, ‘No’ doesn’t mean ‘No’?”
    -Joe Hockey “Wayne Swan is to surpluses what Paris Hilton is to celibacy”.
    -Bill Heffernan [re the PM] “I mean anyone who chooses to remain deliberately barren …”
    – Penny Wong has reacted angrily after Coalition Senator David Bushby ”meowed” at her in a committee hearing today…[from the ABC website]

    I think the ALP politicians, women in particular, are entitled to point the finger of blame for the demeaning degradation of political debate firmly at the primary culprits.

  5. Great news re newspoll. This will fly for a bit longer and anything the tories and their lackies do will not work. Its time, go for the kill

  6. Just Me @ 3048

    How quickly did Ackerman let himself go.

    After all those years playing for the successful Brisbane Lions and now he is bloated beyond recognition.

    Bet you he can’t even do a handstand now.

  7. One thing that makes the Jones episode so damaging to the extreme right wing nutters is its proximity to the real tragedy which unfolded in Melbourne. Those 30,000 marchers represent the silent majority – a majority that is rarely moved to mobilise as they’ve done on this occasion. And while of course we should take no comfort or satisfaction from any political spinoff from that terrible event in Melbourne, we can at least reflect that it foregrounds the very small hole that a horrid toad unwittingly tore in the fabric of political misogyny.

  8. Newman is just as bad as Abbott blaming that horrible crash on labor.
    There is nothing wrong with that stretch of road but that is not the point. The police are doing the investigations but a bit of info is that they think the driver may have had a heart attack.
    Scoring political points of peoples deaths seems to be the new lib tactic

  9. How pathetic. Mr Nice Guy Abbott got himself filmed on the fire truck today.

    Nice try Peta. But you’re not fooling anyone.

  10. Murdoch dill Creighton pretending not to know “die of shame” is an idiom – takes “die” literally and goes all pompous like a grammar nazi. Meanwhile the faux leftie on the left side of the panel analyses the “apology” from thirty different bullshit dimensions to show how objective and non-partisan he is. Meanwhile Jessica Irvine shows her lack of basic general knowledge by admitting she had to google “chaff bag” and wtf is this “eat crows” term? What a godawful illiterate panel.

  11. [ SNIP: See article 3 of comment moderation guidelines – The Management. ]

    Somehow, that seems to have not been observed last night. I wonder why? Maybe it depends who you are?

  12. [Is anyone else getting the feeling that Aussies have absolutely had enough of the fear and loathing perpetrated by the media and they are once again trying to bring about gentler days and less divisiveness in out society.]

    Absolutely. There were those of us who expressed such views when Rudd and his spear carriers were arking up in the msm, yet were cut down by folk like you for daring to criticise them at the time.

    What’s changed?

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