North Shore by-election, 2017

Cause of by-election
Jillian Skinner was dropped from the ministry in January 2017, and announced her intention to resign from the seat of North Shore shortly afterwards.

Margin LIB 21.2% vs GRN

Lower North Shore of Sydney. The seat of North Shore covers a majority of the City of North Sydney and all of Mosman Council. Suburbs include North Sydney, Wollstonecraft, McMahons Point, Kirribilli, Cremorne and Mosman.


The district of North Shore has existed since 1981. A previous incarnation was a five-member district from 1920 to 1927. The current seat of North Shore was held by independents from 1981 to 1991, and by the Liberal Party since 1991.

When North Shore was created in 1981, it covered a smaller area than the current seat, mainly covering the City of North Sydney. It replaced the previous seat named Kirribilli, which had been won by the Liberal Party at every election since it was created in 1962. The seat of Mosman covered the Mosman part of the current seat, as well as covering western parts of Manly.

Bruce McDonald had held the seat of Kirribilli since 1976, when he had defeated the sitting Liberal MP John Waddy for preselection, and then defeated him at the election, when Waddy attempted to win as an independent. McDonald became deputy leader of the Liberal Party in 1978, and became Leader of the Opposition four months before the 1981 election.

At the 1981 election, McDonald contested the renamed seat of North Shore, as well as leading the conservative Coalition into the election. He was challenged by the independent Mayor of North Sydney, Ted Mack, and lost the seat. McDonald polled over 41% of the primary vote, while Mack only outpolled the ALP by 127 votes on primary votes. After outpolling the ALP, Mack overtook McDonald on Labor preferences. McDonald also lost the statewide election in a landslide.

Mack was re-elected to North Shore in 1984 and 1988. He retired later in 1988, only two days before he would qualify for a parliamentary pension as a statement against the excesses of modern politics. Mack returned to politics in 1990, winning the federal seat of North Sydney off the Liberal Party. He held it for two terms before again retiring before qualifying for a pension.

The 1988 by-election was won by independent North Sydney councillor Robyn Read.

Prior to the 1991 election, the neighbouring seat of Mosman was abolished, with the Mosman area largely absorbed by North Shore. Mosman had always been dominated by the Liberal Party and its predecessors, except for two terms in the 1940s when it was won by an independent.

Phillip Smiles had served as Member for Mosman since 1984. He challenged Read in the seat of North Shore in 1991, and won the seat. He served as Assistant Treasurer from 1991 to 1992. He was convicted of tax evasion in 1993, and was forced to resign from Parliament.

The 1994 by-election was won by Liberal candidate Jillian Skinner. She was challenged by Robyn Read, but won with a larger margin than Smiles had in 1991.

Skinner won re-election with relative ease at the 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections. The ALP came second in 1995, 1999 and 2003, but in 2007 the Greens overtook Labor. Skinner still held a margin of almost 16%.

Skinner was elected deputy leader of the Liberal Party following the 2007 election. She has served as Minister for Health since the 2011 election. Skinner resigned as Liberal deputy leader in April 2014, following the resignation of Barry O’Farrell as Premier and party leader.

Skinner was re-elected at the 2015 election. She was dropped from the ministry in January 2017 and resigned from parliament soon after.


North Shore is a very safe Liberal seat, and is likely to stay that way. The Greens have come second at the last two elections, but they are a very long way away from threatening the Liberal Party. There is a history of independent MPs holding North Shore, and a strong independent could be a threat, but it is not clear if one of the independents could pose such a threat.

Independent candidate Stephen Ruff polled 10% in North Shore at the 2015 election, and came second at the federal by-election in the same area later in 2015, but he was a long way away from defeating the Liberal candidate.

2015 result

Jillian Skinner Liberal 26,85358.1-9.3
Arthur Chesterfield-Evans Greens 6,75514.6-5.6
James Wheeldon Labor 6,37813.8+3.0
Stephen RuffIndependent4,65510.1+10.1
Pip ViceCyclist Party8381.8+1.8
Moya KerteszNo Land Tax3900.8+0.8
Giuseppe RotirotiChristian Democratic Party3860.8-0.9

2015 two-candidate-preferred result

Jillian Skinner Liberal 28,61371.2-2.1
Arthur Chesterfield-Evans Greens 11,57928.8+2.1

2015 two-party-preferred result

Jillian Skinner Liberal 28,87471.9-8.5
James Wheeldon Labor 11,27828.1+8.5

Booth breakdown

Booths in Manly have been split into three parts: central, east and west. The ‘east’ area aligns with the Mosman council area.

The Liberal primary vote ranged from 51% in the west to 64% in the east.

The Greens came second, and outpolled Labor in two out of three areas, with a vote ranging from 11.7% in the east to 16.4% in the west.

Labor’s vote ranged from 10% in the east to 16.8% in the west.

Voter groupALP %GRN %LIB %Total votes% of votes
Other votes15.116.358.412,48227.0

Election results in North Shore at the 2015 NSW state election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between primary votes for the Liberal Party, the Greens and Labor.

About the Author

Ben Raue is the founder and author of the Tally Room.If you like this post, please consider donating to support the Tally Room.