Hughes – Australia 2019

LIB 9.3%

Incumbent MP
Craig Kelly, since 2010.

Hughes covers southern parts of Sydney. Most of the seat lies in the Sutherland Shire, including Menai, Bangor, Sutherland, Como, Jannali, Illawong, Barden Ridge, Engadine, Heathcote, Waterfall and Bundeena. The remainder of the seat lies at the southeastern end of the City of Liverpool, including Moorebank and Wattle Grove.

Hughes was first created in 1955 and has been held by the ALP for much of its history despite generally covering relatively affluent areas that would usually be thought of as more favourable to the Liberals. Its first MP was Les Johnson, who held the seat for Labor until he was defeated in the 1966 landslide by the Liberal Party’s Don Dobie. Dobie transferred to the newly created seat of Cook in 1969, and Johnson regained Hughes for the ALP, going on to serve as a minister in the Whitlam government.

Johnson resigned in December 1983, and was succeeded at a by-election by Robert Tickner, who went on to serve a high-profile tenure as Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs from 1990 until losing his seat when the Keating government lost office in 1996.

Danna Vale won the seat for the Liberals in 1996 and held the seat for the next five terms.

Vale retired in 2010 and Liberal candidate Craig Kelly won the seat, increasing the Liberal margin to 5.2%. Kelly was re-elected in 2013 and 2016.


  • Craig Kelly (Liberal)
  • Mitchell Shakespeare (Greens)
  • Gae Constable (Animal Justice)
  • Terrance Keep (United Australia)
  • Diedree Steinwall (Labor)
  • Matt Bryan (Independent)
  • Leo-Ning Liu (Christian Democratic Party)
  • Assessment
    Hughes has long been a marginal seat but has been trending towards the Liberal Party and is reasonably safe now.

    2016 result

    Craig Kelly Liberal 48,73452.0-3.6
    Diedree Steinwall Labor 29,89531.9+2.2
    Phil Smith Greens 6,9127.4+1.5
    Michael CaudreChristian Democratic Party4,4904.8+2.0
    Ellie RobertsonAnimal Justice3,7454.0+4.0

    2016 two-party-preferred result

    Craig Kelly Liberal 55,63359.3-2.5
    Diedree Steinwall Labor 38,14340.7+2.5

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into four parts. The majority of the population is in the urban parts of Sutherland Shire, and these booths have been split into “east” (including Como, Jannali and Sutherland) and “central” (including Menai).

    The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all four areas, ranging from 55.8% in the south to 66.5% in the centre.

    Voter groupLIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Other votes59.111,36912.1

    Two-party-preferred votes in Hughes at the 2016 federal election

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    1. Hughes has moved a lot in re distributions. It probably will again in the next one. Keeping Cunningham out of the Shire is probably untenable. If the AEC take Throsby out of the Southern Highlands (as they should), then the flow on effects will be massive.

      Interestingly Bundeena is the strongest Labor booth in Hughes. It used to be 50/ 50 when in Cook. It really is remarkable that only 20+ years ago Hughes was a solidly Labor seat, & a marginal one even less than 10 years ago.

      I see a lot of Craig Kelly on Sky. His normality is impressive. It is noticeable that he does not talk over other panellists, even when he obviously disagrees with them.

      It is hard to think of another govt backbench MP , who would have a higher profile. Kelly has an impressive focus in his opposition to intermittent, & unreliable energy.

    2. Craig Kelly’s climate change denial and general idiocy may make a few “small l”s reevaluate their vote, but many will just be happy that they’ve heard of their local MP. There was a recent poll that showed he wasn’t in any danger at all of losing his seat.

    3. Interesting exactly of demographic changes….it appears from maps that libs won every booth……..Menai is becoming more liberal and the remainder such as Engadine and Jannalli are also liberal inclined except in pro labor elections

    4. John
      Ah yes, climate change denial. I guess it is a question of whether one believes that minor changes, to less than 1/2 % of the world’s atmosphere, can change the whole world’s climate. At the exclusion of all other possible factors.

      Personally i believe that it is the height of human egocentricity, & self importance, to think we can effect the world climate. A bit like an ant climbing an elephants leg, with the intention of rape !

      We are at this time expending Trillions of $ persecuting said ant.

    5. Wine Diamond, a small Ebola virus or dose of Polonium could kill a person despite being tiny relative to the size of a body. Or, to use an analogy fitting this site, about 3000 voters in 4 marginal seats could change the direction of this country of 24 million

    6. Not a Q&A viewer, so I can’t comment on Craig Kelly’s performances there.

      But it was pretty disturbing a few weeks back to read about his praise for the Azerbaijani electoral system.

    7. John
      Your comparison is very clever however you won’t convince me.Your voting comparison is quite apt, & amusing.

      My understanding is, all plant life dies if there is less than 280 parts of carbon per million, & we currently have 400 parts per million. What is the level that becomes dangerous ? AT other times in history it has been thousands of parts per million

      In any case the carbon debate is irrelevant because the link to global climate remains unproven. There are many other influences that are far more powerful, & convincing.

    8. All of our personal political beliefs aside, Kelly is clearly outside the mainstream thinking on some pretty big issues, and outside it in a pretty aggressive way (with respect, the man’s not charming). Which makes it pretty extraordinary that’s he’s had swings toward him.

    9. PJ
      Sorry you find Kelly offensive. I’d suggest that Kelly’s popularity is based on effectively advocating the prevailing views of his constituents. IOW he represents them effectively. He’d be very out of place in an inner city electorate.
      As for mainstream thinking, we are only just starting to see the impact of wildly escalating power bills. This will certainly influence mainstream thinking greatly.

    10. @PJ true, but that hardly matters because the only question worth answering is whether Kelly reflect the views of his electorate. As a local, I can tell you he most definitely does.

      I’ve had numerous people tell me that while they’re natural ALP voters, they like Kelly because of his strong family-oriented views. Kelly works hard at local events and is always seen in the Shire part of the community; can’t speak about the Holsworthy area though.

      We also need to remember how much this area has changed. When my parents moved here in the early 80s, it was still a very much new development, first-home buyer kind of area. Nowadays, it has become quite wealthy which is a trend that is continuing.

      With all that, it’s easy to explain the good results for Kelly here.

    11. Wreathy
      It is interesting what you say. It will be borne out in his personal vote. Unfortunately we don’t have Peter Brent’s graph comparison to refer to anymore.

      Apart from Holsworthy, is there much new development in Hughes ?

    12. What’s quite surprising for me is how strongly those Liverpool booths have been for the Liberals. Even the Chipping Norton area that was transferred to Fowler voted Liberal in 2016, completely out of character with the rest of Liverpool.

    13. Winediamond,

      In terms of new housing estates? Not much anymore apart from maybe some down at Barden Ridge, though I can’t speak at the Liverpool area. However, a lot of older homes are being knocked down and rebuilt, particularly along the waterside suburbs.

      There has been a big push for low/medium-rise apartments in certain areas around Sutherland, Jannali and Kirrawee. In fact, there’s this huge monstrosity being built along the Princes Highway; it’s over 800 units!

    14. Mark Mulcair
      It would seem that the people living in those riverside suburbs, are quite different. They just happen to be placed in Liverpool council.

      I expect Chipping Norton will be returned to Hughes at the next redistribution. That will mess up one of the AECs straight line boundaries ! Maybe Casula too, as you have previously suggested !

    15. There certainly has been a shift towards the Coalition in the riverside suburbs on the north side of the Georges River in the Bankstown/St George area, I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar is going on in Liverpool and Sutherland (and Canada Bay too).

    16. Wreathy
      Interesting that development is patchy. It will be noticeable if there is fundamental change like the Princes Highway project you mentioned.

    17. Rumblings of a preselection challenge to Kelly from the former SS Mayor, Kent Johns. Talk of it being sewn up already which wouldn’t surprise me considering the local branches are stacked with moderates.

      Regardless, it certainly won’t affect the outcome of the seat, but I’d wager a larger swing than would otherwise have occurred.

    18. Dont rule out this falling in future, Especially if Labor does well nationwide, Watch this seat when Kelly retires

    19. Daniel
      No way on these boundaries. The seat would need to move heaps to the west/ Liverpool, & away from the shire.

    20. I used to think that there were no MPs that would be saved by Scott Morrison becoming MP, but I think Craig Kelly may be thankful for parochialism in the Shire come election day.

    21. starting point Kelly rolled in a preselection then more likely a change later on with a good alp candida5e

    22. Safe or not, This electorate is a Small L Liberal, This electorate is very Pro-Turnbull, being conservative will hurt Kelly, and will face a tough battle for re-election. This is a Liberal electorate not Conservative, Replacing kelly would actually help them hold this seat

    23. Not on Labor’s targets but the Coalition is on $1.40 to Labor $2.95, My prediction is Liberal’s hold with a 5-6 point swing against them

    24. Things just got a little harder for Craig Kelly

      there is a new grassroots group in the Electorate….HUGHES DESERVES BETTER

      Alex Turnbull likes their twitter group
      It must be increasingly difficult for extreme right wing,climate change deniers to get young supporters for the upcoming campaign..
      suggested Kelly campaign slogans

    25. The liberal party are planning to announce a former liberal party member candidate next week to run against kelly

    26. Kelly must be very worried about the latest Newspoll result
      Labor ahead 57/43……

      Kelly,the Climate change denier is in for a very hard contest at the upcoming May election

    27. This seat will not fall under the current 2PP polling from Newspoll, assuming uniformity, as this seat falls outside of the bounds of 53-47, and that is only a 4ish point swing. It would only move this seat from fairly safe to marginal.

    28. Craig Kelly getting very excited about the plans to develop new coal fired power stations in the
      Hunter Valley

    29. Use all the names and Green Labor alliance ‘slogans’ you like, critical thinking is what is required with environmental issues. Not closure, shutdown, demonising mentality. Whats the end game here? Really its just a political party trying to get elected. Nothing has changed. Calling people names is not going to improve our environment. Almost none of you climate change warriors actually drive an electric car. You will create economic tension and inflation for goods and services and improve zero in the environment.
      Meanwhile, China builds new coal fired power stations right throughout Asia…

    30. Maurice
      Nothing i disagree with. I’ll add this
      There is indeed an existential threat to Mankind , & it is not climate change, nor virus, nor war.
      It is celestial Impact

      There is an irresistible irony in this . The human race will spend decades, untold trillions of $ in futile attempt to change the world’s temperature 1, or 2 degrees. Then the universe will smack us with something big, & hard !!. To wake us up from our self indulgence, self importance, self absorption !!.
      Then the global warming will happen !! A couple of HUNDRED DEGREES. But it’s not all bad, the worlds population will go back to under a Billion, & that will be SUSTAINABLE !!.

      Won’t happen ?. That is the future tens of millions of mystic have foreseen for decades. Myself included.

    31. While this seat has developed a ‘Small-l’ liberal community, Craig Kelly does have a very strong local following. Yes, he appears a lot on Sky News and has conservative values but he has been very active on the ground there. Has to be remembered that he has grown up and represented the area, having played 1st Grade Rugby for Southern Districts in the Shute Shield.

      He will lose some of his margin but not enough to lose the seat. Liberal Retain.

    32. This is much safer than either Heathcote or Holsworthy (though I’m not sure I’d even bother to include the latter since it contains so little of the Shire these days). It has some of the strongest booths from Heathcote along Bangor and Menai while also keeping a good smattering of waterside suburbs that tend to vote Liberal. Thus, I’d be surprised to see a margin below 5% here after the election.

      I’m not so sure of a small-l Liberal philosophy developing in these parts. Though the area around Sutherland is one of the least wealthy parts of the Shire which may help Labor, it is still fundamentally conservative in nature. Much more blue-collared and filled with Howard-battler types than other parts of the Shire. This is probably why the Libs picked it up in 1996 and haven’t lost it since.

      In short, Labor have no chance here. If they didn’t pick this up in 2007 with 54% of the statewide 2PP, there’s no reason to think that they’re in with a chance now, particularly since the underlying demographics haven’t moved the needle to the left. If anything, the trend has been the other way.

    33. Wreathy – I totally agree. The Doctors wives of the shire tend to be focussed around the Cronulla end of Cook – well represented at state level by moderate MP and Attorney- General Mark Speakman. I think this seat is emblematic of tradies etc moving away from the ALP and becoming small business people, completing a BAS statement, and generally as a starting point , being more conservative. National polls now have NSW at 50/50 so Kelly holds this comfortably.

    34. Well, there we have it (the “ Golden Shire…… Sydney’s best kept lifestyle secret ! ) We all Need to factor this win into the next Election Day Multi Bet ……. e.g. TAB Bet, Multi……. say with the Autumn Sun (Sydney Racehorse) for an easy win $ 1.40 x ? = easy money. As sure as Scott Morrison attending church over Easter. ………… Can we retire that rude staffer Frank Zumba ? Why treat people with that much discontent ? Try smiling Frank !

    35. It’s bizarre that a man who openly continues to support a convicted pedophile remains so popular.

      I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Nobody seemed to care when he tried to tell people that solar panels kill people, or that Donald Trump banning Muslims was a good idea, or when he made vague threats against his own party members for wanting marriage equality, or when he made explicit threats to sabotage his party if they didn’t support him despite being a liability, or when he had a massive, foul-mouthed dummy spit at Mayor Pesce in front of a bunch of children who were there to get awards, or when he said that calling Tony Abbott a climate change denier was the same as calling him a holocaust denier.

      Somehow I thought that trying to convince people that a child molester is a good person would be beyond the pale. The good people of Hughes never cease to amaze.

    36. I believe in climate change. Yes, I honestly do. I still think that the science is far from conclusive, therefore I refer to it as a “belief”. Ostensibly, a good belief to have. Although it’s only a belief, for the sake of my children and their children’s children, and because I don’t want to leave the place in an inhabitable state for them, I’d like something positive to be done about it, if possible. But, I seriously (seriously!) don’t see how making radical changes in this small corner of the globe (even if we shut down all industry tomorrow) would make any difference to the globe whilst nations like America, China, India, Russia etc. continue to emit at an alarming rate with only increases in sight. So, if the mission statement is truly and honestly about “slowing/stopping/reversing climate change” and not just vacuous rhetoric, we’re completely wasting our time and making life increasingly more difficult in this country for absolutely no gain whatsoever. The climate is a global system, not something you can tweak for yourself in your particular corner of the globe. We need another approach. Although proceeding the way we have may make us feel better about ourselves for doing something rather than nothing, surely what we do should also be proven as effective and not just a token, wasteful, feel-good, gesture that’s creating a great deal of grief for nothing. If we are to pay higher costs and make sacrifices now for future generations, let it be for good reason. That’s not being a climate denier or skeptic, that’s just common sense.

    37. You are 100% demonstrably incorrect about climate change still being a maybe. We are quite literally on the brink of full scale global destruction and every expert in the world with their degree is screaming to be heard.
      But on top of that, your attitude to climate change is identical to those of the people who think voting is a waste of time. Everyone needs to take responsibility and do their part. Every vote counts. Every country’s public pledge to care about the survival of the human race over capitalism counts.

    38. Christo, 100% support for your comments.
      I was born and bread in the shire from European parents and unfortunately there are very few of us left in the shire. We have been invaded by these rich liberal supporters who have bought into this beautiful area that we labor supporters have created. Just look at how the shire has been degraded since the liberals have taken over! The RNP has lost most of it’s employees that maintain this heavily used park. The Hacking River has silted up from coal dust washed into it from the Helensburgh coal mine. The bus and train service into RNP has been taken away. Buildings and infrastructure in the park is decaying through lack of maintenance. Ferry services up to Audley have been ceased and wharves removed.
      Shark net and footbridge at Audley has been removed (where my school conducted lifesaving instruction). The reason Bundeena is a labor stronghold is because it has residents that don’t want the development that a liberal government would bring into the area. Another example of inappropriate development is the new subdivision at Barden Ridge which is inside the 2km exclusion zone from the ANSTO reactor and the new high rise development in the Kirrawee brick pit, that looks nothing like the original proposal submitted to council; where is the parkland that was supposed to be included for the tenants of this structure? I will be voting labor till the day I die because my life was made good by labor, including free education.


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