Miranda by-election: October 19

Labor will be hoping Sydney voters provide them with at least some sunlight in tomorrow’s state by-election for the Sutherland Shire seat of Miranda.

Cook results from 2013 federal election.
Miranda results from 2011 state election.
Miranda results from 2007 state election.

October 18. This was originally posted a month ago, but I’m bumping it back up to the top of the page on account of tomorrow being the big day. The by-election has attracted six candidates, including Labor’s former member Barry Collier, on whom more below, and Liberal candidate Brett Thomas, a Bonnet Bay criminal lawyer and former Sutherland Shire councillor who ran unsuccessfully in Menai in the Liberals’ lean years of 1999 and 2003. Also in the field are Murray Scott of the Greens and George Capsis of the Christian Democrats together with two independents, Lisa Walters and John Brett.

The maps to the right show booth results for the electorate for the last two state elections as well as the recent federal election. The electorate covers most of the western half of Scott Morrison’s seat of Cook, and while it’s slightly the Labor-friendlier of Cook’s two halves (the state seat of Cronulla accounting for the other), the remarkable fact is that Labor was able to hold such a seat for the eight years of Barry Collier’s tenure. Reports of Liberal internal polling showing Labor 54-46 ahead are thus hard to credit, but it’s telling that the Liberals are playing the expectations game so hard. Those who believe the Liberal figures can take advantage of the $3.50 Sportsbet are offering on a Labor win, against $1.25 for the Liberals.

September 20. A genuinely interesting state by-election looms in New South Wales for the Sutherland Shire seat of Miranda, with both parties to field candidates in a seat the Liberals gained from Labor at the 2011 election. It was announced yesterday that the date for the by-election would be October 19, with nominations to close on October 3. Labor will be keeping its expectations in check, given that it was their most marginal seat going into the election (0.8%) and had a Liberal margin of 21.0% coming out of it. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see the extent, if any, to which the appetite of Sydney voters for bashing Labor has slackened in the wake of the federal election.

Miranda extends from Como and Oyster Bay south through Sutherland and Miranda to Gymea Bay, being bounded by Georges River in the north and Hacking River in the south. The Liberals are strongest at Sutherland and harbourside Sylvania, while Miranda and Gymea in the electorate’s east and south have traditionally leaned to Labor. The seat has changed hands four times since its creation at the 1971 election, at which it was won by the Liberals: in 1978, when Bill Robb won it for Labor as part of that year’s “Wranslide”; in 1984, when it fell to Liberal candidate Ron Phillips; when Barry Collier won it for Labor at the 1999 election; and with the Liberals’ thumping win at the 2011 election, at which the landslide swing evident throughout the state was compounded by Collier’s retirement.

For Labor, the by-election offers the auspicious circumstance of a Liberal member drawing fatigued voters back to the polls just six weeks after a federal election for the sake of a career change. That member is Sports and Recreation Minister Graham Annesley, who was chief operating officer of the NRL before entering parliament and now seeks to return to NRL administration as chief executive of the Gold Coast Titans. Annesley tearfully told parliament last month that while he regretted causing a by-election, he had found there were “many aspects of politics that I don’t really care for”.

It was reported that the Liberal preselection would be available for Sutherland Shire mayor Kent Johns if he failed in his bid for Werriwa at the federal election, but he announced on Wednesday that he would not put himself forward. This followed soon after reports that Michael Photios, a member of the party’s state executive whose lobbying activities have been a source of controversy recently, had been working to smooth Johns’s path. Johns conceded this had “ brought the matter to a head”, but said he was equally concerned about “unclear” state laws prohibiting councillors serving as parliamentarians. Murray Trembath of the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader reports that contenders for the Liberal preselection are now likely to include “former councillors Kelly Knowles and Brett Thomas, as well as Meredith Laverty, who ran as an Independent in the last council election”.

An immediate contender for the Labor preselection was Barry Collier, who is seeking to make a comeback at the age of 63. Collier was a lawyer and former school teacher before entering parliament, and while he never rose from the back bench, he established his local popularity when the government backed down on a plan to build the Southern Freeway through the electorate, partly because it feared the prospect of Collier running as an independent. Also contesting the preselection will be Antania Monkley, a 28-year-old organiser with the Community and Public Sector Union. A ballot of branch members will be held on September 28.

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.

8 comments on “Miranda by-election: October 19”

  1. [he had found there were “many aspects of politics that I don’t really care for”.]

    Might have though of that before you ran dickhead.

  2. Can Labor not find one local candidate with a normal jon and not close to retirement age? The talent pool is narrower than Tony Abbott’s mind.

    Winning here for Labor is unrealistic. O’Farrell has been getting on with things. When I last was in Sydney there were several projects moving and the local economy was starting to improve.

  3. Am voting in this by-election tomorrow. It’s naturally a fairly conservative electorate with a strong tendency to localism (identity centres on ‘the Shire’).

    *Libs: running fairly heavily on Labors past failures, the benefits of having a member that is in the government and controversial comments by Barry Collier in 2007 in which he (basically) said the electorate didn’t appreciate him.
    *Labor: running on an over-development platform, issues with Libs on the local council, the our former MLA taking the electorate for granted and “Bring Back Barry”.

    Have been bombarded by campaign letters and leaflets for a month now, but the intensity has increased in this last week particularly from Labor. Haven’t seen either of the two main candidates in person during the campaign, though maybe I haven’t been looking hard enough!

    I think there will definitely be a significant swing (15% or so), but not enough for Barry Collier to re-enter parliament. Guess it depends on how many ‘soft’ Lib votes there were in 2011 and whether or not angst about over-development is strong enough for Mr Collier to recapture some of his previous popularity (which is what he was known for campaigning against prior to entering parliament in 1999).

  4. I would have thought even 10% would be seen as pretty mediocre.

    Anyone who thought Robertson was going to restore Labor’s standing must be an idiot, since he was one of the principal architects of bringing down Iemma, from which Labor has never recovered. I don’t know who the alternative is or whether anyone else actually wants the leadership at present.

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