Bayside council election, 2017

Bayside Council covers suburbs immediately to the south-west of the Sydney city centre. The council is bounded by Botany Bay to the east, the Georges River to the south and the Cooks River to the north. The council covers the suburbs of Arncliffe, Banksmeadow, Bexley, Botany, Eastgardens, Mascot, Pagewood, Rockdale and Sans Souci. The new council had a population of about 153,000 as of 2014.

Council amalgamations
Bayside Council replaced the former Botany Bay and Rockdale councils. These two former councils were separated by the Cooks River and Sydney Airport.

Rockdale Council covered the western half of the new council, to the west of the Cooks River. Rockdale Council had a population of 108,000 as of 2014.

Botany Bay Council covers the eastern half of the new council, to the east of the Cooks River, covering suburbs on the northern shore of Botany Bay, including Port Botany. Botany Bay Council had a population of 45,000 as of 2014.

Bayside is divided into five wards, with each ward electing three councillors.

Bexley ward covers western parts of the council, including parts of Bexley, Kogarah and Carlton.

Botany Bay ward covers those suburbs along the western shoreline of Botany Bay, including Sans Souci and Brighton-le-Sands.

Mascot ward straddles the centre of the council, covering Arncliffe, Mascot and Sydney Airport.

Port Botany ward covers the eastern edge of the council, including Botany, Banksmeadow, Pagewood and Eastmeadows.

Rockdale ward covers the north-western corner of the council, including Bexley North, Bardwell Park and parts of Bexley and Rockdale.

History – Botany Bay
Botany Bay Council has been historically dominated by Labor. As a small council, Botany Bay remained under total Labor domination long after Greens, independents and Liberals began to chip away at Labor’s power in other inner-city councils.

Ron Hoenig served as the Labor mayor of Botany Bay for over thirty years from 1981 until 2012, when he stepped down to run successfully for the state seat of Heffron. Hoenig was unopposed in his last few mayoral election campaigns. The data is not available to know if he faced opposition in earlier campaigns.

Prior to 2012, Botany Bay council was elected to represent three wards, with each ward electing two councillors. The election law of the time required a special voting system to be used for two-member wards. Rather than proportional representation, the voting system used preferences to reallocate the votes of the winning candidate to remaining candidates at full value to decide who would fill the second seat. In practice this meant both seats would go to candidates on the same ticket.

In 2004, Labor won all six seats on the council, as well as the mayoralty. The mayoral election, and one of the ward elections, were unopposed.

There was no opposition to Labor in 2008, and they won all seven seats.

An election law change prior to the 2012 election mandated that two-member wards would be elected using proportional representation – which would have meant a party polling one-third of the total would have won half the seats in a ward, significantly disadvantaging the majority Labor faction. The council changed the system so that the council consisted of six one-member wards, and thus ensuring that majority vote would decide every seat. This was the last remaining council in Sydney elected using single-member wards.

There was more opposition to Labor in 2012 – they faced a contested ballot for four of six wards, as well as the mayoralty, but they won every seat easily. The mayoralty went to Ben Keneally, husband of former NSW premier Kristina Keneally. This council continued until the council was abolished in 2016.

History – Rockdale
Like many suburban councils, Rockdale council has traditionally elected Labor mayors but without the sort of domination seen in Botany Bay council. Prior to the council’s abolition, it consisted of 15 councillors, elected to represent five three-member wards.

The 2004 election produced a result of 5 Liberal, 5 Labor, 4 independents and one Green. The mayoralty in the 2004-2008 term was shared between Labor’s Shaoquett Moselmane and Bill Saravinovski and the Liberal Party’s John Flowers.

The 2008 election produced a repeat result. Labor monopolised the mayoralty in that term, with Saravinovski serving three terms and Moselmane serving one.

The Liberal Party gained ground in 2012, winning a sixth seat in the Fifth Ward off an independent, while another independent replaced the Greens councillor in the Third Ward. Despite holding six seats, the Liberal Party was unable to take power. Three of the four independents sided with Labor, electing Labor’s Shane O’Brien as mayor with independent Liz Barlow as deputy.

O’Brien was re-elected in 2013 and 2014, with Bill Saravinovski elected as the final mayor of Rockdale in 2015.

Candidate summary
Jeremy Maspero will be running for the Mascot Matters party (it’s not clear if this party will be officially registered).

Even when you account for the lack of serious opposition in the Botany Bay council area, Labor is the dominant party in this new council, and are likely to lead the new council. Labor should win at least six seats with a good chance of second seats in some of the other wards. It will be interesting to see whether the Liberal Party is capable of winning seats in those areas where they have been completely absent in the past – the voting system and federal results suggest the Liberal Party could win a seat even in Port Botany, but that is a different question.

2012 council result

Party Votes % % where contested
Labor 25,612 40.7 40.7
Liberal 18,098 28.8 36.8
Botany Bay independents 3,264 5.2 31.1
Liz Barlow 2,671 4.2 28.4
Greens 2,662 4.2 16.7
Michael Nagi 2,356 3.7 23.0
Mark Hanna 2,201 3.5 22.5
James Macdonald 2,018 3.2 20.9
Vesna Tenodi 1,205 1.9 11.8
Prem Singh 908 1.4 9.6
Rami Abdallah 844 1.3 8.4
Kerry Koliadis 735 1.2 7.8
George Saravinovski 331 0.5 3.3

Ward breakdown – federal
The former Botany Bay council never had properly competitive elections. The ALP was unopposed in two wards, and in the other four only faced opposition from Greens or independents. So the federal results can give a better sense of support across the new council when there is a full ticket of candidates.

Labor polled a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in four out of five areas, ranging from 52% in Bexley and Rockdale to almost 56% in Mascot and Port Botany. The Liberal Party won just over 55% in Botany Bay. Bear in mind that this is based on the 2013 federal election which was a particularly strong result for the Liberal Party, who won Barton with a swing of over 7%.

On a primary-vote basis, both parties polled easily enough to win one seat in each ward. Labor topped the poll in four out of five wards.

Ward ALP 2PP % ALP % LIB % GRN % OTH %
Bexley 52.6 43.7 39.4 5.4 11.5
Botany Bay 44.6 36.6 48.4 5.2 9.8
Mascot 55.7 44.8 35.1 7.1 13.0
Port Botany 55.7 47.2 40.8 7.1 4.9
Rockdale 52.4 42.7 39.1 5.9 12.3

Ward breakdown – 2012 council results
I have also broken down 2012 council election results by ward. As mentioned above, there was no voting in wards 1 and 5 of Botany Bay council. Ward 1 is now contained in the Port Botany ward, while Ward 5 is split between Mascot and Port Botany. In the remainder of Botany Bay council, Labor only faced opposition from independents or Greens, with no Liberal candidates.

Labor was the only party to run across the entire council area. The Greens contested two Botany Bay wards and one Rockdale ward, while the Liberal Party contested every ward in Rockdale but no wards in Botany Bay.

The vote for Labor varied widely from 30% in Bexley to over 67% in Port Botany (in places only opposed by a single independent). The Liberal vote peaked at 45.8% in Botany Bay.

Ward ALP % LIB % GRN % OTH %
Bexley 30.0 30.6 1.62 37.9
Botany Bay 31.9 45.8 5.32 17.0
Mascot 48.8 16.21 8.92 26.2
Port Botany 67.3 0.0 0.22 32.5
Rockdale 38.1 36.0 2.92 23.1

1 The Liberal Party did not stand for Botany Bay Council, and polled 31.2% in those parts of the new Mascot ward previously contained in Rockdale Council.
2 The Greens only stood candidates in three out of nine contested wards across the two councils. Counting only votes in parts of each ward which the Greens contested, they polled 12.4% in Bexley, 14.4% in Botany Bay, 18.5% in Mascot, 11.5% in (a tiny part of) Port Botany and 14.2% in Rockdale.

Election results in Bayside at the 2012 council election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between primary votes for the Labor and Liberal parties.

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.