Labor vs Greens on the North Shore


I’m currently rushing to prepare my guide to the NSW state election prior to Christmas. In the last ten days I’ve made booth maps for 55 out of 93 seats, which covers most of the Sydney basin and all of the Illawarra. I’m hoping to get those maps finished soon and then begin posting profiles.

Yesterday I was working on maps for the northern seats in Sydney. Every seat in that area is held by the Liberal Party, who regained two seats from independents in 2007 and then won Ryde off the ALP at a 2008 by-election. The area is particularly weak for the ALP. The only seats in the area that are at all close to being marginal are Epping (8% margin) and Ryde (13% after a by-election).

In four of these seats, the ALP did not come in the top two. In Pittwater and Manly sitting independent MPs were defeated by the Liberal Party but still came in the top two. Independent Mayor Pat Reilly was the runner-up in Willoughby, while the Greens came second in North Shore. The Greens also came second in Vaucluse, the only Liberal seat on the southern shore of the Harbour and a seat with a lot of commonality with the north shore. In Pittwater, the ALP were relegated to fourth place with only 7%, behind the Liberal, the sitting independent and the Green.

When I have been making the booth maps for these seats I noticed a number of seats where the ALP and Greens are neck-and-neck, and it was worth examining in which booths the Greens managed to outpolled the ALP. After doing this for a number of seats I thought it would be worthwhile to make one for the whole region, stretching as far west as Hornsby, Epping and Ryde.

Polling booths on the North Shore, coloured to show which party out of the Greens and the Labor Party polled more votes. Nearly all booths were won by Liberals or independents, with the exception of Ryde, which was won by the ALP in 2007. Click to enlarge.

The Greens have surged in the north shore, and there is potential for the Greens to become the primary organised opposition to the Liberals following the 2011 state election. The Greens have already overtaken the ALP in North Shore and Pittwater. In Manly, the Greens were outpolled by Labor by only 50 votes. If strong independents do not emerge again in Manly and Pittwater, they will likely become Liberal-Green contests.

In Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell’s seat of Ku-ring-gai, the Greens only fell 24 votes short of overtaking the ALP at the key point in the distribution of preferences. The Greens are only behind Labor by 3% in Davidson and 4% in Willoughby.

The Greens are a long way from challenging the Liberal Party’s hold on any of these seats, but there is certainly potential for the Greens to substantially increase their vote in the area at the expense of Labor. The ALP is weak on the ground in the north shore, with no state or federal members of Parliament and few councillors. Without any infrastructure it will be hard for the party to maintain its presence, particularly when marginal seat campaigning means that the region is pretty much ignored by the party’s head office. The Greens in contrast have a lot to benefit by increasing their upper house vote substantially by poaching the roughly 10% of north shore voters who remain with the ALP.

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  1. Interesting – certainly does place the development of support for the Greens in a new light after all the focus on competion with the Alp IN inner city Melbourne.

    Just noting that the final count including prepolls in Victoria has tended to favour the Greens – final count for the lower house pushing up to 11.1%.

  2. Indeed, the area the Greens should have been (and they have been) pushing to target for a while now. There are two demographic characteristics that correlate strongly with voting Green: people of no religion and tertiary (bachelor and higher) educated. Apart from the inner city, the North Shore is characterised by these demographics. This is the first half of the donut effect.

    Kerry Nettle did quite a bit of work on the North Shore back in the 2007 Federal and State elections and it paid off. There are also some very strong local groups who are well organised and committed in that region. All credit to them.

    These aren’t seats the Greens will win anytime soon. However, there needs to be a continuation of our strong campaigning efforts there, particularly for the upper house.

  3. The sort of people who would have joined the ALP on the north shore are perhaps more likely to join the Greens. Back in the 1980s there were some remarkable women in the ALP on the north shore who had all been nurses and secteraries before going to uni as mature age students. But none of them ever made it into parliament.

  4. I suspect the trend towards Greens is due to their support of NSW Education and training. The worrying trend of NSW Labour to fail to offer support to state wide education makes the Greens the only viable option for a solution to the NSW skills shortage.
    The skills shortages across key industries have resounding impacts on many businesses, not to mention provision of health and education.

    The following is an excerpt from a letter by Greg Robinson that highlights some of the issues faced by NSW teachers. The cuts to teachers hours show NSW Labour’s intention to reduce spending in education and training at a time when we need it most.

    NSW Labor has forced TAFE Teachers into an award that utilises the concept of “Annualised Hours”. The concept of “Annualised Hours” is an industrial melanoma which is completely unacceptable to any worker and is designed to turn full time workers into effectively casual labour. It does this by abolishing the 40 hour week that workers fought hard for many years to achieve.

    The only way to fix the problem is to get rid of ‘Annualised Hours’ and I believe it can be done in a way that makes Kristina Keneally look like she is upholding the values of the Labor party and the rights of workers but time is running out.”‘

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