Warringah – Australia 2019

LIB 11.6% vs GRN

Incumbent MP
Tony Abbott, since 1994.

Northern Sydney. Warringah covers parts of the Northern Beaches and Lower North Shore of Sydney, including Manly, Mosman and parts of Neutral Bay, Allambie Heights, Brookvale and Curl Curl. The seat covers the entirety of Manly and Mosman council areas, as well as parts of North Sydney and Warringah. The largest proportion of the population lives in Warringah.

Warringah was first created at the 1922 election, and has never elected a Labor candidate, electing a conservative candidate at every election, the one exception being 1937 when an independent was elected, who proceeded to join the United Australia Party shortly after his election and went on to serve as a minister in a number of conservative governments.

The seat was first won by Granville Ryrie in 1922. Ryrie had been Member for North Sydney since a 1911 by-election and was elected to Warringah unopposed. The ALP challenged him in 1925 but he managed over 80% of the vote.

Ryrie was appointed High Commissioner to London in 1927 and the by-election was won by Archdale Parkhill, in a race where the two Labor candidates polled barely 18% between them.

Parkhill had been the Lynton Crosby of early 20th Century Australian politics, coordinating many campaigns for the early Liberal Party and Nationalists over two decades. Parkhill served as a minister in the Lyons government from 1932 until 1937, serving as Minister for Defence during Lyons’ second term.

Parkhill was defeated at the 1937 election by conservative independent Percy Spender, who won the seat in a close race on preferences after falling 15% behind on primary votes. Spender went on to join the UAP shortly after his victory. Spender served in the wartime governments of Robert Menzies and Arthur Fadden and served as Minister for External Affairs until 1951, when he retired at the election before being appointed Ambassador to the United States. Spender went on to serve as Australia’s first representative on the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Spender was succeeded in 1951 by Francis Bland, who held the seat for ten years with massive majorities, polling over 70% on two occasions and being elected unopposed on a third. He retired without ever taking a ministerial role.

Bland was succeeded in 1961 by John Cockle, who held the seat until his death shortly before the 1966 election.

Cockle was succeeded by prominent Edward St John in 1966. St John caused controversy in 1969 attacking Prime Minister John Gorton, which led him to resign from the Liberal Party, and he was defeated at the 1969 election by Liberal candidate Michael MacKellar.

MacKellar served as a minister in the Fraser government until 1982, when a scandal involving the importation of a colour television saw him resign from the ministry.

MacKellar resigned from Parliament in 1994, and the ensuing by-election was won by Tony Abbott. Abbott went on to serve as a minister for the entirety of the Howard government from 1996 to 2007, becoming a senior member of Cabinet in the last two terms of the government.

Abbott had always held Warringah by large margins over the ALP, and the only serious threat to his hold on the seat came in 2001, when Peter Macdonald, former independent member for the state seat of Manly, challenged Abbott. Macdonald polled 27% of the primary vote and came within 6% of defeating Abbott.

Abbott served as Shadow Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs following the Howard government’s defeat in November 2007, serving in the role under leaders Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull.

Abbott resigned from the frontbench in November 2009 in protest at Malcolm Turnbull’s support for the Emissions Trading Scheme, which triggered the collapse of Turnbull’s leadership. Abbott won a slim majority in a party room ballot against Turnbull in December 2009 and was elected Leader of the Liberal Party.

Abbott led the Coalition into the 2010 election. The Labor government lost its majority, but managed to piece together a majority with the support of crossbench MPs. Abbott led the Coalition through the next term, before winning the 2013 election. Tony Abbott served as Prime Minister until he was defeated for the Liberal leadership in September 2015.


  • Tony Abbott (Liberal)
  • Kristyn Glanville (Greens)
  • Assessment
    Warringah is a reasonably safe Liberal seat, in the absence of a strong independent challenge.

    2016 result

    Tony Abbott Liberal 44,75951.6-9.2
    Andrew Woodward Labor 12,82014.8-4.5
    Clara Williams Roldan Greens 10,56512.2-3.3
    James MathisonIndependent9,88711.4+11.4
    Marie RowlandNick Xenophon Team5,5066.4+6.4
    June ScifoChristian Democratic Party1,0391.2+0.5
    Marc GiordanoScience Party8000.9+0.9
    Shea CapliceArts Party6690.8+0.8
    Tony BackhouseIndependent3680.4+0.4
    David BarrowIndependent2530.3+0.3

    2016 two-candidate-preferred result

    Tony Abbott Liberal 53,34661.6
    Clara Williams Roldan Greens 33,32038.4

    2016 two-party-preferred result

    Tony Abbott Liberal 52,94861.1-4.2
    Andrew Woodward Labor 33,71838.9+4.2

    Booth breakdown

    Warringah has been split into three areas: Manly, Mosman and Warringah. Polling places in the Mosman and North Sydney council areas have been grouped as “Mosman” while those booths in the Northern Beaches council area have been split between the two former council areas of Manly and Warringah.

    The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote (against the Greens) in all three areas, with just under 60% in Warringah and Manly and over 64% in Mosman.

    Labor came second on primary votes, but fell into third behind the Greens on preferences, with a primary vote ranging from 13.6% in Manly to 16.3% in Warringah.

    The primary vote for independent candidate James Mathison ranged from 9.1% in Mosman to 14% in Warringah.

    Voter groupALP prim %IND prim %LIB 2CP %Total votes% of votes
    Other votes15.010.262.712,65514.6

    Election results in Warringah at the 2016 federal election
    Toggle between two-party-preferred votes, Labor primary votes and primary votes for independent James Mathison.

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    1. Legend in the booth breakdown seems to be wrong (Mosman and Warringah reversed), while the text in that section seems to come from one of the WA seat guides.

    2. Despite a the sentiment against Abbott across the country, it doesn’t show here. I don’t even think he is that popular as a candidate, but he has no real contest except maybe a popular independent or Greens candidate.

    3. The Greens have boasted a lot about finishing 2nd here, but given the 2CP is actually tighter vs Labor, and the primary votes are so low I don’t think this is much to boast about. I doubt the Greens are ever going to win seats like this any more than Labor is. Independents are the real potential challengers, and given that it’s a seat which consistently ranks highly on socially progressive issues, including the 75% Yes vote in the marriage equality plebiscite, I don’t think it’s implausible that an independent or some other future party could mount a successful challenge here, but it’s not easy. Mathison was a theoretically potentially good candidate but clearly lacked the political or campaigning experience and know-how to make an effective challenge.

      It would be fascinating to see how effective a properly organised and targeted campaign that could exploit the socially progressive tilt of the electorate might be at breaking through what is still a largely class-based identification that drives Liberal votes in these kinds of seats, but it doesn’t seem like something that can come from Labor or the Greens.

    4. Nick C, In the Manly byelection they calculated a Liberal vs Green 2PP on the night before it turned out to be a Liberal vs Independent 2PP; they were both very similar in the end.

      There was apparently a poll that had Abbott losing the election a few weeks out from the 2016 election, and Turnbull sent out a letter to the whole electorate telling people to vote for Tony Abbott. The vote might not be rusted on as people think and he’s been consistently sniping for years, and I highly doubt he’s particularly active in the electorate.

      A well known Liberal like Mike Baird, Bruce Baird or even John Hewson running as an independent could really threaten Abbott here, but I wouldn’t rule out Greens or Labor taking it on preferences either.

    5. I feel like this seat has the possibility of moving against the Libs, especially while Abbott is playing games.
      That being said the only threat would be conceivably be a small l independent, if not I just see this remaining a Lib seat where the Greens come second.

    6. This seat clearly has a centrist and/or libertarian streak (depending on how economically dry the non-left voters are here), but if you ask me, Abbott will hold barring freak circumstances.

    7. Dean Harris has been pre-selected for the ALP here. Running a similar campaign to what James Mathieson ran. Interesting to note that they have pre-selected someone from the Mosman section, which is arguably the strongest area for Abbott.

    8. Trent – I read the Fairfax stories too. Abbott was the only candidate to nominate but about 30% of the 90 federal electorate council delegates voted against endorsing him. Also the election of the FEC leadership saw the an ally of Abbott defeated as chairman and replaced with a moderate. The outgoing chair then tried to get a vice chair position but was defeated by a young liberal moderate too. Abbott has been in parliament since 1994 and its time to retire. If we are lucky the constituents my retire Abbott.

      While Abbott and I are Constitutional Monarchists that is as far as the similarity goes. Abbott and Alan Jones are more an embarrassment to the ACM as is former MP Sophie Marbella after she entered parliament and later was defeated by an independent in Indi.

    9. i think there will be big shocks at the next election, and Warringah could be one of them.

      It only takes an independent with some profile and a seat like this could fall.

      It would be interesting to see the number of seats that fall with a 7.5 – 12% margin during a landslide or those seats that will never fall.

      Warringah could be one of them.

    10. the lib candidate needs to be endorsed by the local members……vote rumoured to be 46Abbott 38 against with 9 abstentions….. Tony disliked. is Dick Smith standing as an independent ?

    11. In the euphoria of the Liberals’s defeat in Wentworth tonight Jane Caro is saying she will run in Warringah as an independent.

      If she were capable of running a serious campaign and making it to the final runoff (even off as little as 20% primary) she probably stands a better chance of winning on preferences than the Greens or Labor. However the inevitable “left wing extremist pretending to be independent” scare campaign from the Liberals might stick better on Caro than it did on Kerryn Pehlps, Caro shared the stage with Richard Di Natale and Mehreen Faruqi at a Greens campaign function only a few weeks ago!

    12. Indi, Wagga Wagga, Mayo and now Wentworth show that the biggest threat to the Coalition in the lower house is not One Nation or the Conservatives or any other rag-tag far right party, but rather, popular local grassroots independents who run on platforms that the frustrated voters of these electorates are passionate about – climate change, asylum seekers, public schools, hospitals etc. – but can’t bring themselves to vote for a Labor or Green candidate. Given Caro’s media notoriety, and association with the left of politics, I don’t know if she could pull a similar upset in Warringah but it certainly seems possible.

    13. What really pissed me off about the ALP campaign to whip up hysteria against Tony Abbott; they kept saying that his Catholicism meant that he would try to ban abortions, which was (1) a con of an argument because it ignored the fact that it was a state issue, (2) was blatant anti-Catholic bigotry and (3) not something Abbott had ever said he would do. Abbott turned out to be fairly useless and a bit of a twat in office (and threw himself whole-heartedly into being a twat after leaving the premiership), but we don’t need to go down the American path of circulating lies and drumming up hysteria against political opponents.


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