New South Wales election 2015


Margin: Liberal 19.0%
Region: Sutherland Shire/Northern Illawarra
Federal: Hughes (63%)/Cunningham (25%)/Cook (12%)

Candidates in ballot paper order



No Land Tax

Christian Democratic Party


Labor (bottom)

Liberal (top)





Two-party preferred booth results from 2011 state election showing Liberal majority in blue and Labor in red. New boundaries in thicker blue lines, old ones in thinner red lines. Boundary data courtesy of Ben Raue of The Tally Room.

Covering the northern part of the Illawarra and the southern edge of Sydney at Port Hacking, Heathcote gave the Liberals a double-digit margin in the 2011 landslide in a seat it had hitherto won on only occasion in a history that effectively went back to 1930, albeit that the electorate has at various times has had the name of Bulli. The latest redistribution has put the Liberals on a still firmer footing by all but removing the electorate from the Illawarra region, with over 10,000 voters from Bulli north through Thirroul and Austinmer to Coledale transferred to its southern neighbour, Keira. This is counterbalanced by gains at the Sydney end, including nearly 14,000 voters from an area of the old Menai electorate that includes Menai itself, hence the change of that electorate’s name to Holsworthy. There are also smaller gains from Miranda further to the east, mostly in Kirrawee, accounting for a further 2000 voters. The changes collectively boost the Liberal margin from 12.9% to 19.0%.

Bulli and then Heathcote, as it was renamed in 1971, were held for Labor from 1955 to 1986 by Rex Jackson, whose lengthy political career came to an end when an inquiry recommended he be charged for soliciting bribes for the early release of prisoners during his tenure as Corrective Services Minister, which ultimately led to his imprisonment. Ian McManus retained the seat for Labor at the ensuing by-election, holding out against the Liberal candidate by 2.8% margin after an 18.2% drop in the Labor primary vote – partly accounted for by Jackson unusually deciding to run as an independent in the seat he had just vacated, and polling 6.4% of the vote. The Liberals’ first ever win came with the defeat of the Unsworth government at the 1988 election, at which McManus moved to the short-lived new seat of Burragorang.

The redistribution that followed the cut in parliamentary numbers at the 1991 election changed the name of the electorate back to Bulli, marking a return to a northern Illawarra orientation that gave the seat a notional Labor margin of 6.3%. Andrews unsuccessfully sought refuge in the Sydney seat of Coogee and Bulli was successfully contested for Labor by Ian McManus, Burragorang having been abolished. With the next cut in parliamentary numbers in 1999, the name changed back to Heathcote. McManus remained as member until the 2003 election, when it became apparent he had lost control of local branches. This was reportedly down to the party recruitment activities of Right faction member Gerry Ambroisine, whose anticipated challenge to McManus failed to eventuate. However, Ambroisine was said to be close to McManus’s ultimate successor, Paul McLeay, a Public Service Association official and son of former federal MP Leo McLeay. McLeay was nonetheless able to win preselection ahead of Left faction candidate Maryanne Stuart only after head office ruled in his favour on a complaint from the Stuart camp concerning two disputed ballots.

McLeay won promotion to the ministry in November 2009, but the following September he joined the seemingly endless list of Labor members who lost their jobs in embarrassing circumstances, in this case the use of a parliamentary computer to visit pornography and gambling sites. He was then turfed out at the March 2011 election by a savage swing of 21.7%, the worst of a particularly bad set of results for Labor throughout the Illawarra region. Succeeding on his third attempt was Liberal candidate Lee Evans, part-owner of a gourmet foods distribution business.

Labor’s candidate for the coming election will be Maryanne Stuart, who as noted had been narrowly unsuccessful against Paul McLeay in the preselection for the 2003 election. Stuart was an official with the Australian Services Union at that time, but has more recently been with the Rail Tram and Bus Union.

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