Seat of the week: Cook

To mark today’s Miranda state by-election, a tour of the corresponding federal electorate of Cook, held safely for the Liberals by Scott Morrison.

UPDATE (Morgan poll): The latest Morgan multi-mode poll, which will be reporting fortnightly for the rest of the year at least, is a better result for the Coalition than the last, having their primary vote up 1.5% to 43.5%, Labor’s down 2.5% to 34.5%, the Greens up a point to 10%, and the Palmer United Party steady on 4.5%. As was the case in the previous poll, there is an implausibly huge disparity between the respondent-allocated two-party result (51.5-48.5 to the Coalition) and that using 2013 election preferences (55-45), and as was the case last time, I can only conclude that something is going awry with the latter calculation. My own modelling of preference flows from the recent election produces a result of 51.5-48.5 from these results, exactly the same as the Morgan respondent-allocated preference figure.

Blue and red numbers (if any) respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for the Liberal and Labor parties. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Cook covers southern Sydney suburbs to the south of the Georges River, including Kurnell, Cronulla, Miranda and Sylvania. The electorate was created in 1969 to accommodate post-war suburban development, the area having previously been accommodated by Hughes from its creation in 1955 and Werriwa beforehand (an unrelated seat called Cook covered inner southern Sydney from 1906 to 1955). There has been little geographical change to the electorate since its creation, its boundaries being set by Botany Bay and Georges River in the north and Port Hacking in the south, but its character has transformed from marginal mortgage belt to affluent and safe Liberal. The seat’s inaugural member was Donald Dobie, who had won the hitherto Labor-held seat of Hughes for the Liberals with the 1966 landslide, but he was unseated in 1972 by Labor’s Ray Thornburn. Dobie again contested the seat in 1974 and 1975, suffering a second narrow defeat on the first occasion and winning easily on the second. Thornburn followed Dobie’s example in twice recontesting the seat in 1977 and 1980, but like all future Labor candidates he was unsuccessful. Dobie prevailed by 148 votes when the Fraser government was defeated in 1983, and the closest margin since has been 3.5% in 1993.

Dobie was succeeded upon his retirement at the 1996 election by Stephen Mutch, who had been a member of the state upper house since 1988. Mutch fell victim after one term to an exercise of power by the party’s moderate faction, which at first backed local barrister Mark Speakman, who had been best man at Mutch’s wedding nine years earlier. The resulting dispute ended with the installation of another noted moderate, Bruce Baird, who had been a senior minister through the Greiner-Fahey NSW government from 1988 to 1995. Mutch’s demise greatly displeased John Howard, who pointedly failed to promote Baird at any point in his nine years in Canberra. It also did not help that Baird was close to Peter Costello, and was spoken of as his potential deputy when fanciful leadership speculation emerged in early 2001. After reports that growing Right control of local branches was putting his preselection in jeopardy, the 65-year-old Baird announced he would bow out at the 2007 election.

Even before Baird’s retirement announcement there was talk of him being succeeded by Scott Morrison, former state party director and managing director of Tourism Australia. According to Steve Lewis in The Australian, Morrison boasted “glowing references from a who’s who of Liberal luminaries, including Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, former Liberal president Shane Stone, Howard’s long-time chief of staff Arthur Sinodinos, and Nick Minchin, the Finance Minister and another close ally of Howard”. However, it quickly became clear that such support would not avail him without the backing of the Right, which had been successfully courted by local numbers man Michael Towke. Imre Salusinsky of The Australian reported that Morrison was further starved of support when moderates resolved to resist Towke by digging in behind their own candidate, Optus executive Paul Fletcher, later to emerge as member for Bradfield.

The ensuing preselection ballot saw Towke defeat Fletcher in the final round by 82 votes to 70, with Morrison finishing well back in a field that included several other well-credentialled candidates. However, Towke’s preselection success met powerful resistance from elements of the party hierarchy, whom conservative Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Sheahan credited with a series of damaging reports in the Daily Telegraph. The reports accused Towke of branch-stacking and embellishing his CV, culminating in the headline, “party split as Liberal candidate faces jail” (a defamation action brought by Towke against the paper was eventually settled in his favour). It was further reported that Towke had been the victim of a whispering campaign relating to how his Lebanese heritage would play in the electorate that played host to the 2005 Cronulla riots (Towke’s surname being a recently adopted Anglicisiation of Taouk). The party’s state executive narrowly passed a resolution to remove Towke as candidate, and a new preselection involving representatives of local branches and the state executive duly delivered victory to Scott Morrison.

Morrison was quickly established as a senior figure in a Liberal Party newly consigned to opposition, winning promotion to the front bench as Shadow Housing and Local Government Minister when Malcolm Turnbull became leader in September 2008 and securing the high-profile immigration and citizenship portfolio when Turnbull was deposed by Tony Abbott in December 2009. He further gained productivity and population after the 2010 election, before having his political role sharpened with the title of Immigration and Border Protection Minister following the 2013 election victory.

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.

2,307 comments on “Seat of the week: Cook”

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  1. Thanks Dave think I also speak for badcat when I say this stint as the “apprentice” makes me all the more appreciatve and in awe at what BK does

  2. Fred, I love your comment on the previous thread about Abbott and the small stuff. A PM sitting in the cabin of a fire truck all day is mind-boggling. Can you imagine what his secrurity blokes were thinking?
    Despite all the boasts about being the best- prepared new government ever, I can’t help but get the feeling that Abbott doesn’t quite know what to do with the prize now he’s finally won it. He has to keep doing stunts because that’s all he knows. He’s got to get out of the office because if he stays there someone might actually expect him to read some of that policy stuff that he’s avoided so successfully for the past 4 years.

  3. Helen Sykes 11

    an excellent post
    Now away for a walk and then coffee with my mainly Tory friends, what else do you expect when Pruneface is our local member.BUT they are lovely people despite that shortcoming

  4. Davidwh (and others) … The MP for Melbourne is Adam Bandt rather than Brandt.

    Now that he is in his second term, I believe we should begin correctly spelling his name.

  5. Good Morning

    @WestWingReport: Hope you’ll follow WWR’s @JFKElmStreet: coverage – 50 years to the day – of events leading to the Kennedy assassination

  6. The new political correctness: must not talk about embarrassing things.

    Don’t talk about boats.
    Don’t talk about climate change.
    Don’t talk about ripping off the taxpayer.
    Don’t talk about the resources O’Farrell ripped out of fire fighting.

  7. One of the reasons I entered politics was because I saw it as a way of achieving the greater good.

    The example I always use is this one: I hear that there is a family in trouble in my neighbourhood, so I take them a bag of groceries.

    That’s great, I’ve helped that family. But I haven’t really done anything to solve their greater problems, and it’s quite likely there’s thirty other families in the area (let alone the country) in exactly the same situation who I haven’t helped.

    If, however, I look at how the family got in the situation they’re in the first place, and can change a law or implement a policy that prevents other families getting into the same situation (or provides them with real assistance when they do), I’ve helped the thirty families I don’t know about, and innumerable families into the future.

    Abbott’s fire fighting stunt is an example of the first way of thinking. A Prime Minister should be working at the next level.

  8. Morning all.

    The lengths Republicans will go to in order to stop the US having reasonable health care.

    [Laura Tingle ‏@latingle 1m
    Targeted strikes?“@johnboehner: Aggressive oversight, targeted strikes will be key as we continue working to stop #ObamaCare train wreck”]

  9. Look forward to the new reality, where we don’t discuss issues when they’re current because that would be ‘insensitive’.

    Shame to all of those people who discussed parole guidelines after Jill Meagher’s death!

    Shame to all of those people who demanded that something be done to save the lives of asylum seekers when that boat capsized!

    And, of course, shame to all of those who are discussing politicians rorts when politicians have been caught out rorting. They’re human beings, guys. They’re suffering. Let’s not talk about it now, but leave it for a few months when they’ve had time to recover from the shame.

  10. Morning all

    Here are some if the links as posted on orevious thread by badcat

    Taking those vital big steps in childcare
    Lyn Connolly is a childcare veteran. She’s been involved in the sector since the 1970s and heard every side of the debate about cost and quality but believes there is one salient fact often overlooked by the public and policy makers.

    Read more:

    Coalition correct with election budget forecast, but clouds looming
    The Coalition has received a clean bill of health on its election costings, with the Parliamentary Budget Office finding that if anything it understated the boost they will give to the budget.

    Read more:

    Shorten’s challenge is to ‘do a Whitlam’ and recast Labor
    The leadership ballot within Labor Party ranks has recently dominated the party, and so it should. As a long-time party member, I am sure members like the notion of being part of the process of choosing a leader. They are interested and alive to the history-making initiative.

    Read more:

    Will those safety vests on stations save Napthine?
    The fluoro vest and politics have become inextricably entwined. The be-seen, be-safe item of workplace wear has become de rigueur apparel for the politician on the shop floor/big project hustings. But will it also be an unexpected vote winner for the Napthine government?

    Read more:

    Cat poo prankster on bond thanks to high-flying job
    A MANAGER who sent cat poo to then federal attorney general Nicola Roxon in a drunken prank has avoided a conviction thanks to his high-flying job.

    Should the Prime Minister risk his life fighting fires?
    TONY Abbott did today what any responsible, caring prime minister would do, visiting one of the communities devastated by bushfires raging out of control across NSW.

  11. BW

    [For the cognoscenti, ‘Brandt’ is a pun on the dutch word for ‘fire’ I believe.]

    Indeed. I hadn’t missed that. Adam of course means “man” and if one goes back a step further in the chain of lexical provenance formed from the Earth.* So we kind of have fire from earth or perhaps (following the German) “burnt Earth”.

    * interestingly, human also has the same lexical root to “earth” — hence “humus”.

  12. Shorten’s challenge is to ‘do a Whitlam’ and recast Labor

    Interesting. The IPA have said that rAbbott should use Whitlam as a role model for the Government

  13. [Helen Sykes

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Fred, I love your comment on the previous thread about Abbott and the small stuff. A PM sitting in the cabin of a fire truck all day is mind-boggling. Can you imagine what his secrurity blokes were thinking?
    Despite all the boasts about being the best- prepared new government ever, I can’t help but get the feeling that Abbott doesn’t quite know what to do with the prize now he’s finally won it. He has to keep doing stunts because that’s all he knows. He’s got to get out of the office because if he stays there someone might actually expect him to read some of that policy stuff that he’s avoided so successfully for the past 4 years.]

    I think Peta probably finds it easier to run the country when she get Tony out of the office.

  14. In my inbox

    [Hello, everyone —

    Late Wednesday night, after a 16-day shutdown, the President signed a bill to reopen the government and pay our country’s bills. Today, a government shutdown over delaying or defunding the health care law can no longer hurt our economy. We are no longer facing the threat of default.

    While this bipartisan compromise is the right thing to do for the country, there are no winners when Washington keeps hijacking our economy month after month.

    Nobody wins when hundreds of thousands of people don’t know when their next paycheck will come. Nobody wins when millions of veterans and seniors risk losing benefits that they’ve paid for, earned, and rely on. Nobody wins when businesses stop hiring and our economy grows slower than it could.

    Ultimately, the reason this shutdown ended was simple: Democrats and responsible Republicans got together, recognized that holding the American economy hostage should have no place in our politics, and got the job done. They did what the American people elected them to do.

    Today, every American should have a clear sense of where we stand, and where we’re going. Watch the President’s statement yesterday about the end of the shutdown, and then pass it along so that other folks see it, too.

    In his remarks, the President asked Congress to focus on finishing three specific policy priorities in the weeks to come.

    First, that means passing a budget that invests in the things that will create a better bargain for the middle class — like educating our children, and improving our infrastructure — while continuing to cut our deficit in a balanced way.

    Second, it means fixing our broken immigration system so everyone plays by the same rules. The Senate has already passed a bill that would continue to strengthen our borders and grow our economy by bringing millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and give them the chance to earn their citizenship by paying a fine and taxes, passing a background check, and going to the back of the line.

    And third, it means passing a farm bill that ranching and farming families can rely on: one that protects working families and gives rural communities opportunities to grow.

    We’ll be back in touch soon with more specific ways that every one of us can support this work. But for now, we should all have the facts on exactly what ending this shutdown means for all of us — today, and in the weeks to come.

    Take a look at the President’s remarks from yesterday, and pass them along to the folks you think need to see them:

    Thanks, and stay tuned.


    David Simas
    Deputy Senior Advisor
    The White House

    P.S. — It’s been a while since we’ve talked about immigration reform, and how it would help make our economy a lot better. Let’s change that. Take a look at this whiteboard video our team put together. Then share it.]

  15. Last night our government brought back TVPs. It was done by regulation so it didn’t have to go to parliament. It could be reversed by parliament, but Labor just doesn’t have the numbers to get it through the reps.

    In a cruel and obviously deliberate twist That Bastard Morrison chose to do his dirty work on the day before the anniversary of the SIEV X where 146 children drowned because of TPVs. The full story won’t break until today – the anniversary.

    Why are TVPs so evil? I’ll let Julian Burnside explain –

    “First proposed by Pauline Hanson” – that tells you everytihng in one little sentence. For a very detailed discussion from 2003 on the problems involved with Howard’s TVPs, the system Morrison has brought back, go here –

  16. More links from previous thread

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:20 am | PERMALINK
    Tony Abbott confuses himself with myself, says Bill Shorten

    New Labor leader Bill Shorten has moved to dash Tony Abbott’s hopes of obtaining swift progress on his carbon tax repeal bills, declaring the Prime Minister is confusing his own wishes with those of others and coming to flawed conclusions.

    Read more:

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:21 am | PERMALINK
    Couple tried to fight crooked union boss

    While disgraced former Labor Party president Michael Williamson looks set to be jailed for stealing $1 million from his former union, a Fairfax Media investigation has uncovered a pattern of extraordinary criminality going back more than a decade.

    Read more:

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:22 am | PERMALINK
    Fixing Australian Labor Party doesn’t start with shouting from the rooftops

    Graciously accepting his election as Labor leader last Sunday, former trade union boss Bill Shorten looked radiant in a tailored charcoal suit, crisp white shirt and a carefully knotted necktie of crushed mulberry.

    Read more:

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:23 am | PERMALINK
    Pedal power: motorists’ poll guru changes gear

    Having garnered national attention helping the Motoring Enthusiast Party snag a Senate spot, the man dubbed the ”preference whisperer”, Glenn Druery, is turning his focus to NSW politics

    Read more:

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:24 am | PERMALINK
    Hockey looks to Asia as the US stutters

    Treasurer Joe Hockey has expressed doubts the world has seen the last of the US debt impasse as he urged the United States to get its house in order and signalled a renewed focus on opening more markets in Asia as a response to ongoing instability.

    Read more:

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:25 am | PERMALINK
    Slipper seeks end to ‘sham of justice’

    Former speaker Peter Slipper has called on authorities to consider charging Liberal MP Don Randall, arguing the latest expenses scandal was the starkest example yet of unfair treatment

    Read more:

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:26 am | PERMALINK
    Labor’s carbon tax bind: surrender or die fighting

    She’s offered it only within the confines of the government, but word is Peta Credlin has some world-weary advice for rookie Labor leader Bill Shorten: if you’re serious about making Labor competitive again in 2016, you best swallow hard, take a deep breath, and turn your back on carbon pricing. And you best do it now.

    Read more:

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:28 am | PERMALINK
    Puzzler in shadow appointments

    Bill Shorten has declined to explain why his new shadow minister for the 2015 ANZAC centenary, is a senator who will be out of Parliament nearly a year before the centenary.

    Read more:

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:28 am | PERMALINK
    Defence all at sea on new submarines

    Submarines are the stealthy killers in maritime warfare. They are the queens on the chessboard, the strategic game-changers. Any country has to think long and hard about messing with another country that has an advanced submarine fleet. You can’t be sure there isn’t one sitting quietly off your own coast or waiting in hiding to sink your ships.

    Read more:

    Thanks badcat and mari. Excellent effort. 🙂

  17. So much for the ALP claims of a $70 billion Coalition black hole – there’s actually $10 billion more than they conservatively promised.

    A very good start.

  18.”Where to live when climate change takes hold?” was the topic on Waleed Aly’s ABC Radio National Drive show this week. His guest was Professor Jean Palutik, director of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility at Griffith University. When pressed by the host about where she’d decamp to escape the effects of climate change, Professor Palutik said: ”I would probably find myself sitting somewhere in Tasmania.” She also nominated a region in Scandinavia or maybe Canada, where ”not to generalise or be flippant, a little bit of warming might help”.

    Read more:

    I seem to remember boeward ppoo hhoooing when I mentioned tas being the bread basket of aust,

  19. Guytaur – that’d be the ALP that lost $30 billion in ten weeks after their budget ?

    How did the ALP intend to fund Gonski and NDIS? All the promised big spending was out past the forward estimates and the ALP had no
    Plan how to pay except raise taxes or debt.

  20. This comes under the broad heading of ‘surprises’, as
    [When Senator Brandis was in opposition, The Weekend Australian repeatedly tried to ascertain his views on FOI, without success. Yesterday’s statement came only after eight requests for comment over the course of the past 10 days and the statement did not answer a question about Senator Brandis’s position on open government.]

    [A NEW era of government secrecy has been ushered in, with senior bureaucrats in Canberra refusing to release the departmental briefing notes for Joe Hockey.

    Following the Coalition’s election victory, The Weekend Australian applied for the incoming government brief, or “blue book”, under Freedom of Information laws, but was informed yesterday the documents were wholly exempt. That is a significant and alarming departure from tradition — Treasury briefs were released under Labor.

    That rejection was later followed by a similar one from the department of Attorney-General George Brandis, who now has responsibility for FOI laws.]

  21. Compact Crank

    Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    So much for the ALP claims of a $70 billion Coalition black hole – there’s actually $10 billion more than they conservatively promised.

    A very good start.

    The thousands of men women and children who will die of starvation and disease due to the reduction in foreign aid may have a different view.

    Of the $7.15 billion, $4.5 billion is from foreign aid.

    I would not have thought that would be something to crow about


    Tony Abbott has wisely left Australia’s fiscal settings exactly as they were under Labor, putting the lie to his hysterical pre-election economic rhetoric, writes Stephen Koukoulas.

    Almost two months after a thumping election victory, there is not one hint of any economic policy change from the Abbott Government that will deal with the budget bottom line. Yet until the day before the election, this was painted by the Coalition as an “emergency” or “crisis”.

    The reason is obvious. The budget is in triple-A shape and in the complete opposite of an emergency.

    TALL has just simply kept doing what Labor were doing and now we have fools saying how great he’s doing. When all he is doing is what Labor were doing

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