John Alexander, since 2010.
Bennelong straddles the north shore and western suburbs of Sydney. The seat covers the entirety of Ryde local government area, as well as Epping, Carlingford and Ermington, from Hornsby and Parramatta council areas. Main suburbs in the seat are Ryde, Epping, Ermington, Eastwood and Gladesville.
Bennelong was created in 1949, and was held by only two MPs between then and the 2007 federal election. Bennelong originally covered Ryde, Hunters Hill and Lane Cove, but not areas such as Eastwood and Epping that are now contained within the seat.
Bennelong was first won by John Cramer (LIB) in 1949. Cramer served as Minister for the Army under Robert Menzies from 1956 to 1963. During his time holding Bennelong the seat was never a very safe seat, and in 1961 Cramer only held on by 1832 votes. His largest margin was 15.4% in 1966.
Cramer retired at the 1974 election and was succeeded by John Howard (LIB). Howard went on to serve as a minister under Malcolm Fraser, including as Treasurer from 1977 to 1983. He then served in a variety of roles on the opposition frontbench after 1983, including as two stints as Opposition Leader (1985-1989, 1995-1996). He was elected as Prime Minister in 1996 and served until 2007.
The seat of Bennelong had gradually shifted to the north-west over the decades, taking in Epping. The 1992 redistribution saw the last parts of Lane Cove removed from the seat, and Howard’s margin was cut in 1993. After recovering in 1996 to a margin over 10% it gradually declined to a 4.3% margin in 2004, when the Greens ran high-profile former intelligence officer Andrew Wilkie against Howard.
The 2006 redistribution saw Howard’s margin cut slightly and the ALP decided to target the seat, running former journalist Maxine McKew. McKew won the seat with 51.4% of the two-party vote.
In 2010, McKew was defeated by former tennis champion John Alexander.
Sitting Liberal MP John Alexander will presumably be running for re-election. The Labor Party is running Ryde councillor Jeff Salvestro-Martin. The Greens are running Lindsay Peters. The Democratic Labor Party is running Lachlan McCaffrey.
Bennelong is a marginal seat and certainly could change hands, but the seat has a long Liberal history and took a massive effort for Labor to win in 2007. The absence of McKew’s personal vote and Alexander’s new personal vote will also favour the Liberal Party.
2010 two-candidate-preferred result
Booths have been divided into five parts around the main suburbs of Bennelong: Eastwood, Epping, Gladesville, Ryde and West Ryde.
The Liberal Party won a majority in all five areas, varying from 50.3% in West Ryde to 56.4% in Gladesville.
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