Kingsford Smith – Australia 2019

ALP 8.6%

Incumbent MP
Matt Thistlethwaite, since 2013. Previously Senator for New South Wales 2011-2013.

South-eastern Sydney. Kingsford Smith covers southern parts of the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, including all of the former Botany Council and most of Randwick Council. Kingsford Smith includes the suburbs of Coogee, Randwick, Maroubra, Mascot, Malabar and Kensington.

Kingsford Smith was first created for the 1949 election after the House of Representatives was expanded. The seat has always been held by the ALP, originally being a marginal seat in its early years before gradually becoming safer, and it has been solidly safe since at least the 1960s.

Gordon Anderson (ALP) won the seat in 1949 with a bare 50.9% margin over the Liberal Party, and only won a 50.5% margin upon reelection in 1951. Anderson won with 54.2% in 1954, before retiring in 1955.

The seat was won in 1955 by Daniel Curtin (ALP), who had previously held the seat of Watson since 1949. Curtin won in 1955 with 55% of the vote, and the seat’s has only dipped below 5% once since 1955, in the 1966 landslide.

Curtin held the seat until 1969, and in that time solidified the ALP’s hold on the seat, but was almost defeated at his last election in 1966.

Curtin retired in 1969 and was succeeded by the state member for Randwick, Lionel Bowen, who won the seat with a margin over 10% for the first time. Bowen was a minister in the Whitlam government and became a senior member of the ALP in opposition in the late 1970s.

Bowen served as Deputy Prime Minister for the first three terms of the Hawke government, from 1983 until his retirement at the 1990 election.

He was succeeded in 1990 by Laurie Brereton. Brereton had briefly succeeded Bowen as member for Randwick from 1970 until the seat was abolished in 1971, when he moved to the seat of Heffron. Brereton served as a minister in the Wran and Unsworth governments before switching to the federal arena in 1990, after the Liberals won a landslide victory in New South Wales.

Brereton served as a federal minister in the final term of the Keating government and served as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1996 until 2001, when he moved to the backbench.

In 2004 Brereton retired and was succeeded by Peter Garrett, former lead singer of Midnight Oil and President of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Garrett had also previously run for the Nuclear Disarmament Party in the Senate at the 1984 election, losing due to the Labor and Liberal parties preferencing each other over the NDP.

Garrett joined the ALP frontbench upon the election of Kevin Rudd as Labor leader in late 2006. Garrett served as Environment Minister in the first term of the Labor government, and as Minister for School Education from 2010 to 2013.

Peter Garrett retired in 2013, and he was replaced in Kingsford Smith by Matt Thistlethwaite, who had served as a Labor senator since 2011. Thistlethwaite was re-elected in 2016.


  • James Cruz (Greens)
  • James Jansson (Science)
  • Matt Thistlethwaite (Labor)
  • Adam Watson (United Australia)
  • Assessment
    Kingsford Smith is a reasonably safe Labor seat.

    2016 result

    Matt Thistlethwaite Labor 43,64247.4+5.4
    Michael Feneley Liberal 34,59137.5-6.0
    James Macdonald Greens 9,69810.5+0.7
    Andrew WeatherstoneChristian Democratic Party2,1442.3+0.7
    Andrea LeongScience Party2,0592.2+1.4

    2016 two-party-preferred result

    Matt Thistlethwaite Labor 53,96258.6+5.8
    Michael Feneley Liberal 38,17241.4-5.8

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into three areas. Booths in the former City of Botany Bay have been grouped together. Booths in the City of Randwick have been split between Coogee in the north and Maroubra in the south.

    Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 56.1% in Coogee to 65% in Botany.

    Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Other votes13.655.710,60011.5

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

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    1. I lived here some time ago (early Garrett era).

      It’s a bit of a hard area to explain. The median house price here would be well over $1m and new residents are not of the same demographic as that moved to Botany and Hillsdale 20 years ago. But Labor is hanging on. In Mascot you’ve got huge high-rise development of mostly small units. In Coogee the housing market is becoming pretty boutique and not as overdeveloped as one may think – but the left vote is holding up. I suspect Coogee may become something of a rich lefty destination area, not dissimilar to Balmain or, say, St Kilda.

      Matt T is a good fit for this seat. He’s super local – I believe was the captain of the Maroubra Lifesaving Club, and seems to cross the divide of bread and butter issues in the poorer areas with progressive identity or environmental issues of the wealthier areas. The Libs had a good candidate the last two times in heart surgeon Michael Feneley, but he seems to have given up the game, so their candidate will likely be weaker this time around.

      Though the Libs came close in 2013, I suspect that the Labor strongholds in Botany Bay (Bayside) and around Malabar will keep this safe enough Labor for at least another decade and probably beyond. Even with the rampant gentrification one would expect in a bayside Sydney seat, the boundaries are pretty good for Labor – not unlike the state seat of Heffron – where there is a pretty solid Labor vote throughout and the Lib and Green challengers would only likely have strong booths in different pockets of the seat, but not enough to mount a challenge over a seat of 100,000+ people.

      Anyway, safe Thistlethwaite hold.

    2. This seat has always been a strange microcosm of Sydney. The northern areas are full of small l liberals, professionals, doctors, journalists, barristers and university professors. The southern areas more closely resemble the western suburbs with its large populations of Italians, Greeks, public housing tenants, Catholics, migrants from East Asia and even an Aboriginal community in La Perouse.

      It has always been Labor heartland, especially around the Maroubra area. The liberals have thought they could win it for decades because they only see things in terms of property values, but the area has always been progressive in its values.

      Matt thistlethwaite is a highly visible local member and should extend his majority even further.

    3. This is a seat where a high gentrified leftie vote seems to exist, with rich progressives continuing to vote Labor and keep the seats out of Liberal hands. Matt is a great local member and always appears to be very visible out in the community, doing his best to represent the interest of a diverse electorate.


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