Balmain – NSW 2019

GRN 4.7% vs ALP

Incumbent MP
Jamie Parker, since 2011.

Inner Sydney. Balmain covers the entirety of Leichhardt local government area, including Balmain, Leichhardt, Lilyfield, Annandale and Rozelle, as well as Glebe and part of Ultimo in the City of Sydney.

Balmain has existed as an electoral district in various forms since 1880. In that time it has covered a variety of different areas all around the Balmain peninsula. The original seat was created as a single-member district in 1880.

Back in the 19th century, districts would gain extra MPs if the population in the area grew, instead of experiencing regular redistributions. Balmain quickly gained extra MLAs, gaining a second in 1882, a third in 1885 and a fourth in 1889. Ironically the four-seat district of 1889 bore a close resemblance to the modern seat’s boundaries.

In 1894, Balmain was abolished and replaced by the single-member districts of South Balmain, North Balmain, Leichhardt and Annandale.

In 1904, Balmain was re-created when Balmain Southand Balmain Northwere merged. It elected a Liberal MP in 1904, but in 1907 it was won by the ALP’s John Storey in 1907. He had previously held Balmain Northfrom 1901 to 1904.

The NSW Labor Party split in 1916 over conscription, with most of the Holman government, including William Holman itself, expelled. Storey became leader of the remnants of the ALP in 1917.

In the lead-up to the 1920 election the seat of Balmain was expanded to cover parts of the neighbouring seats of Annandale, Camperdown, Darling Harbour, Glebe and Rozelle, and became a five-member district elected by proportional representation.

At the 1920 election, the expanded Balmain elected four Labor members and one Nationalist. The ALP won a slim majority, and Storey became Premier. He served until his death in 1921.

Balmain elected three Labor and two Nationalist MPs in 1922, and again elected four Labor members in 1925.

The 1927 election saw a return to single-member districts, and Balmain reduced to a smaller single-member district. At that year’s election, the official Labor candidate, Harry Doran, was challenged by sitting Labor MLA HV Evatt, who had been elected as a member for the multi-member Balmain district in 1925. Evatt won re-election as an independent Labor candidate.

In 1930, Evatt was appointed to the High Court and didn’t contest Balmain. John Quirk, whose neighbouring seat of Rozelle had been abolished in the redistribution, was elected in Balmain for the ALP. Evatt later went on to serve as a federal MP, federal minister, and leader of the federal ALP from 1951 to 1960.

Quirk died in 1938, and the 1939 Balmain by-election was won by his wife Mary. She held the seat until 1950, when she ran as an independent after losing Labor preselection. She lost to official Labor candidate John McMahon.

McMahon served as a minister in the Labor government from 1959 until the government lost power in 1965, and he retired in 1968.

Roger Degen held Balmain for the ALP from 1968 until his retirement in 1984. That year the seat was won by Peter Crawford.

In 1988, Crawford lost Balmain to former Olympic swimmer Dawn Fraser, running as an independent and ending over 80 years of Labor domination in Balmain.

Fraser held the seat for one term. In 1991, Balmain was abolished, and Fraser was defeated in an attempt to win the new seat of Port Jackson.

Port Jackson was won in 1991 by Sandra Nori of the ALP. Nori held the seat until 2007. In 2003, Port Jackson was the main target for the Greens, with Jamie Parker reducing Nori’s margin to 7.3%.

In 2007, Port Jackson was again renamed Balmain, and shifted west to lose Ultimo, Pyrmont and Sydney CBD and gained Haberfield. Nori retired, and the ALP preselected City of Sydney councillor Verity Firth. Greens councillor Rochelle Porteous reduced the ALP margin to 3.8%.

In 2011, Firth lost Balmain to Greens candidate Jamie Parker. The Liberal candidate came first on primary votes, with Parker narrowly outpolling Firth and winning the seat on her preferences. Parker was re-elected in 2015.


Balmain is a marginal seat and could certainly be in play. A lot may depend on who Labor runs in the election, as more high-profile Labor candidates have tended to do better against the Greens. Jamie Parker is well established now, and will still be the favourite if he runs again.

2015 result

Jamie Parker Greens 17,55637.4+6.3
Verity Firth Labor 14,93031.8+1.9
Lyndon Gannon Liberal 11,68224.9-5.8
Patrick FogartyCyclists9512.0+2.0
Michelle NielsenAnimal Justice9131.9+1.9
Gordon BrownNo Land Tax5271.1+1.1
Rhonda AvasaluChristian Democrats3930.8-0.1

2015 two-candidate-preferred result

Jamie Parker Greens 20,01954.7
Verity Firth Labor 16,55745.3

2015 two-party-preferred result

Verity Firth Labor 25,84065.8+11.1
Lyndon Gannon Liberal 13,45634.2-11.1

Booth breakdown

Booths in Balmain have been split into three areas, named after the key suburbs of Balmain, Leichhardt and Glebe. Lilyfield and Annandale have been grouped with Leichhardt, Birchgrove and Rozelle have been grouped with Balmain, and Forest Lodge and Ultimo have been grouped with Glebe.

The Greens won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 52.7% in Glebe to 57.4% in Balmain.

The Liberal Party came third, with a vote ranging from 20.1% in Glebe to 28.7% in Balmain.

Voter groupLIB prim %GRN 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes27.255.611,75125.0

Election results in Balmain at the 2015 NSW state election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Greens vs Labor) and Liberal primary votes.

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  1. Libs gave an open preference ticket in these ALP vs GRN seats last time didn’t they? Very high exhaustion rate here and in Newtown and Summer Hill.

    OPV definitely seems like a leg up to the Greens in these kind of seats, I reckon they need ~5% less primary vote to win than they do in similar seats in other states or federally.

    I wouldn’t recommend the Greens continue OPV though if given the choice. Overall “the left” (ALP + GRN) is better off with CPV, they trip over each-others feet in seats like Lismore and Coogee in OPV.


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