Mackellar – Australia 2019

LIB 15.7%

Incumbent MP
Jason Falinski, since 2016.

Northern beaches of Sydney. Mackellar covers Pittwater council area and a majority of the Warringah council area. Major suburbs include Dee Why, Collaroy, Narrabeen, Mona Vale, Avalon and Frenchs Forest.

Mackellar was created in 1949 as part of the expansion of the House of Representatives. It has always been won by the Liberal Party with substantial margins.

The seat was first won in 1949 by William Wentworth, grandson of colonial political figure William Charles Wentworth. Wentworth had previously polled 20% of the vote in the seat of Wentworth (named after his grandfather) as an independent in 1943.

Wentworth was a leading red-baiter in Parliament during the 1950s, although he remained in Parliament for almost two decades after winning Mackellar. He was close to John Gorton, and when Gorton became Prime Minister in early 1968 he appointed Wentworth to cabinet as the first ever federal minister with responsibility for Aboriginal affairs. Wentworth remained on the frontbench under Billy McMahon and served in the ministry until McMahon’s defeat in 1972.

Wentworth announced his retirement in 1977, but didn’t wait for the election to resign from the Liberal Party, after returning to the role of outspoken backbench rebel during the first term of the Fraser government. He ran as an independent for the Senate in 1977 and polled 2%.

Wentworth was succeeded in Mackellar by Liberal candidate Jim Carlton, who had served as the state party’s General Secretary during the 1970s. Carlton served as a minister in the final year of the Fraser government, and was a frontbencher in the Liberal opposition from the Hawke government’s election in 1983 until the 1990 election. Carlton retired from Parliament in 1994.

The ensuing by-election was won by sitting Senator and Liberal frontbencher Bronwyn Bishop. Bishop had been a  Senator for New South Wales since 1987, and had been a prominent Opposition frontbencher, and had been discussed as a possible leadership contender. She played a prominent role in the opposition frontbench after winning the by-election, but her colleagues did not share her assessment of her leadership potential, and she was passed over in favour of first Alexander Downer and then John Howard.

Bishop was re-elected to seven full terms from 1996 to 2013. Bishop was appointed to a junior ministerial role after the election of the Howard government in 1996. She was dropped from the ministry after the 2001 election after a controversial tenure as Minister for Ageing. She was elected Speaker after the 2013 election, but was forced to step down in August 2015 after criticisms over extravagant travel expenses.

Bishop lost Liberal preselection to Jason Falinski in 2016.


Mackellar is a safe Liberal seat.

2016 result

Jason Falinski Liberal 48,10351.2-11.3
Rhonda Funnell Labor 16,28617.3+0.1
Mike Hall Greens 13,20414.0-0.1
Jim BallIndependent6,7977.2+7.2
Julie HegartyIndependent4,5424.8+4.8
Liam GavinIndependent2,6692.8+2.8
Annie WrightChristian Democratic Party2,4112.6+0.6

2016 two-party-preferred result

Jason Falinski Liberal 61,80065.7-3.1
Rhonda Funnell Labor 32,21234.3+3.1

Booth breakdown

Mackellar covers all of the former Pittwater council area and a majority of the former Warringah council area, all now contained in the new Northern Beaches council. All of the polling places in the Pittwater area have been grouped together as “north”. Those in Warringah have been split between “south-east” on the coast and “west” further inland.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 63.1% in the south-east to 69.6% in the west.

The Greens came third, with a primary vote ranging from 11.2% in the west to 16.6% in the north.

Voter groupGRN prim %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes14.666.512,44713.2

Election results in Mackellar at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and Greens primary votes.

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  1. What happened to the Scotland Island booth ? I always got a kick out seeing the one Labor Green number on the map !!
    Ive always disliked the boundaries of this seat intensely. Warringah Road, cuts all the forrestville suburbs in half.

    Jason Fallinski is like a cockroach – he survives everything !! Nomination challenges, citizenship questions & Probably a nuclear holocaust !!. This useless waste of space will still be scuttling round long after i’m gone !

  2. Falinksi features prominently in John Hyde Page’s “The Education of a Young Liberal”, which is basically the Liberal version of the Latham Diaries (ex-party hack tips a huge bucket over all his former colleagues).

    He was the one who opened his branch in Wentworth to allow Malcolm Turnbull to ‘recruit’ so many new members and blast Peter King out.

    According to Page, Falinski believed Turnbull would get sick of Parliament after a term or two, and resign. And in thanks for all the help Falinski gave him, Turnbull would engineer to gift the seat to him.

    Bit of a miscalculation there……

  3. Mark Mulcair
    Thanks, i must have a read. If it is half as entertaining as the Latham diaries, it will be riveting.

  4. Surprised the Greens didn’t do better here. Extremely safe Liberal of course, but I thought the Greens would be able to overtake Labor the way they did in the state election and Warringah. The Greens should have a serious crack here and other blue ribbon seats if the Liberal leader at the next election isn’t Malcolm Turnbull (which looks far less likely than it did this time a year ago)

  5. Correction to the article Ben: Bronwyn Bishop lost the Pre-Selection to Jason Falinski.

    Winediamond – Couldn’t be more correct about Falinksi. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to read the Education of a Young Liberal because David Clarke managed to successfully sue John Hyde Page for defamation and got the book taken off the shelves. One of my old bosses has a copy. Reason? John Hyde Page dedicates the book to him.

  6. Ahhh my seat at last. I love the minuscule GRN primary vote at the Veterans Homes on the Plateau. Haven’t seen much of Faliniski, and no doubt this will be forever a LIB safe seat until maybe a popular independent or Green candidate. I don’t think he has the star power of Bronwyn Bishop to protect him.

    I agree with windiamond, the split along Warringah Road is wrong in terms of a boundary.

  7. Ahh yes my seat. No doubt a safe LIB seat until kingdom come, although Faliniski doesn’t have as much star power as his predecessor did. Maybe a super popular Green or independent candidate could challange, but there are much better seats to take. Also I love the tiny 4 GRN primary at the veterans home.

    I agree with winediamond about the electoral boundary, does not reflect the community at all

  8. More news, Very high profile Millionaire, Founder of the retail store, Dick smith is said to likely run here, Hes considering it, If he does he would win this. He has allot of money in his pocket. Obviously for him not to breach section 44 he would need to hand over the company to someone else while he serves, It would be close but i think he would win as long as he contests as an Independent (Which is expected)

  9. I have no doubt that Dick Smith will do well if he runs but I can’t see him winning (though i’d love to be proved wrong), I feel as if he’d be a better fit in Warringah.

  10. How on eartg are people on Scotland island supposed to vote if there isn’t a single polling booth there, Federally?

  11. Daniel
    Mackellar is 233 square kilometers.
    Residents of Scotland Island could swim to mainland in less time than residents of Kennedy could drive to polling booth. Kennedy 568 Thousand square kilometers.
    Many isolated voters have no choice but to cast postal votes.
    With respect to low vote numbers for Green at a booth I remember a relative telling me they had to vote for me in case no one else did (DLP Moreton 1972 I got 6% so Mum need not have worried)
    However I thought votes with this type of numbers were aggregated to preserve Secret Ballot. Most small booths have been abolished. I can remember booths with a few hundred votes in City Divisions and I think there was a booth in Kennedy with 23 voters.
    Andrew Jackson

  12. Andrew, there used to be another such island booth in suburban Sydney (in the Fed seat of Berowra/state seat of Hornsby that has only been abolished in recent elections. It was the Dangar Island booth in the Hawkesbury River (further upriver from Pittwater) and it was another GRN “fortress”; albeit a rather small fort given its population of only 300 people. Granted, its no major hardship for its residents to vote anyway as there is a ferry service to the nearby township of Brooklyn which they take every day to commute to work etc.

  13. Daniel, I live in the electorate and I can tell you that there is a regular ferry service to Bayview and just about everyone on Scotland Island has a boat. Even Kristina Kenneally…

    Liberal Retain

  14. why? why do they continue to vote Liberal in state and federal. both politicians condone the council merger, continuing 0ver development and the loss of 2 public hospitals. Its mind boggling to say the least. a friend of mine once said “you can’t put brains in statues”, just about wraps it up.

  15. I don’t know where you came from Mal Cliff but given your comments here, I get the feeling that you don’t have a clue about the Northern Beaches:

    *The only opposition to council amalgamation were from the old Pittwater Council, while the majority of people preferred 1 council. On top of that, it is a state issue, not a federal issue
    *Only Manly Hospital has been shut down completely and, to be honest, it needed to be because its old, poorly positioned and would have cost more to renovate and update the hospital. Again, state issue, not federal issue
    *Development is a Council issue and not relevant to a Federal Election.


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