Cumberland council election, 2017

Cumberland council covers suburbs in the centre of Western Sydney, immediately to the south of Parramatta. The council covers Auburn, Berala, Clyde, Girraween, Granville, Greystanes, Guildford, Holroyd, Lidcombe, Merrylands, Pemulwuy and Wentworthville. The new council has a population of about 219,000 as of 2014.

Council amalgamations
Cumberland council is an amalgamation of parts of three local councils. The new council covers most of Holroyd and Auburn councils, and the southern end of Parramatta council, mostly covering the Granville area.

Holroyd was almost entirely moved into the new Cumberland council, with the exception of a small area north of the M4 in the north-eastern corner of the former council, which was moved into the City of Parramatta.

Those parts of the former Auburn council south of the M4 (which covers most of the council’s population) have also been added to Cumberland. The remaining area, which contained about 16% of the council’s population as of 2014, including Sydney Olympic Park and the new waterfront developments around Newington and Wentworth Point, have been moved into the City of Parramatta.

The former Holroyd and Auburn councils did not share a boundary, so to bring them together Cumberland council has also gained the former Woodville ward of Parramatta council. This ward covered those parts of the City of Parramatta south of Granville railway station. This area covers all of Guildford and South Granville, and most of Granville.

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

Granville ward covers the centre of the new council, and includes the suburbs of Granville, Holroyd, Merrylands and parts of Guildford.

Greystanes ward covers the south-west of the new council, including the suburbs of Greystanes, Pemulwuy, Woodpark and parts of Guildford West.

Regents Park ward covers the eastern end of the new council, including the suburbs of Lidcombe, Berala, and those parts of Auburn north of the railway line.

South Granville ward covers south-eastern parts of the new council, including South Granville and parts of Auburn and Guildford.

Wentworthville ward covers the north-western corner of the new council, including Girraween, Pendle Hill, Wentworthville and South Wentworthville.

History – Auburn
Both Labor and Liberal have held seats on Auburn for a long time, but the council in recent years has always elected a large number of independents and minor party members, with no single party holding control.

The 2004 election saw Labor win four seats. The Liberal Party won two, alongside two members of the Unity Party, two members of local party Residents Action Group for Auburn (RAGAA), one independent and one Greens member.

Labor’s Curtin won the mayoralty in 2005. In 2006, Unity councillor Le Lam was elected mayor on a 10-2 vote, with only RAGAA opposing his election. In 2007 the mayoral vote was tied 6-6. The Labor and Liberal councillors sided with Liberal councillor Ronney Oueik, while Unity, RAGAA and the Greens supported Lam, and Lam’s name was drawn out of the hat.

The 2008 election saw the council shrink from twelve seats to ten seats. Labor lost their fourth seat, and RAGAA lost one of their two seats.

The first two years of the 2008-2012 term saw unopposed mayoral elections: RAGAA’s Irene Simms in 2008 and Labor’s Hicham Zraika in 2009.

This peace broke down in 2010, when Ronney Oueik was elected mayor on a 6-4 vote. He was re-elected in 2011 on a 6-3 vote. In both years the Labor councillors split their votes, with two of the three Labor councillors opposing Oueik.

The 2012 election saw the Liberal Party win a third seat, while Labor was reduced to only two. RAGAA regained its second seat, while Unity and the Greens were both knocked off the council. Three independents were also elected, including former Unity member Le Lam.

The final term of Auburn council saw a more consistently divided council, with each faction commanding half of the council.

In all four mayoral elections, the two RAGAA councillors, the two Labor councillors, and independent councillor Tony Oldfield voted together, while the three Liberal councillors and independents Salim Mehajer and Le Lam voted together. In all four years the mayoralty was decided by drawing a name out of a hat.

In 2012, Liberal councillor Ned Attie won, followed in 2013 by Labor’s Hachim Zraika. Liberal councillor Ronney Oueik won in 2014, and in 2015 the mayoralty went to independent Le Lam, with the support of the Liberal councillors and Salim Mehajer. Lam served as mayor until the council was suspended in early 2016. The council was then abolished when Cumberland council was created later in 2016.

History – Holroyd
Holroyd council was dominated by three blocs over the last three council terms: Labor, Liberal and the Holroyd Independents. Only one councillor has been elected outside of these blocs since 2004.

Labor’s Malcolm Tulloch served as mayor from 2002 until the 2004 council election. At the 2004 election, the council was split between Labor and the Holroyd Independents. HI won six seats, while Labor won five. The final seat was won by independent councillor Eddy Sarkis.

HI had effective control of the council for the next four years. HI councillor John Brodie served as mayor from 2004 to 2005, and again from 2006 to 2008, with fellow HI councillor Allan Ezzy serving from 2005 to 2006. Ezzy had served as mayor for ten years between 1985 and 2002.

The Liberal Party emerged on Holroyd council for the first time in 2008. The four wards of Holroyd each elected one Labor councillor, one Holroyd Independent and one Liberal, producing a 4-4-4 council.

Labor and HI formed an alliance, splitting the mayoralty. Labor’s Greg Cummings was mayor from 2008 until 2009, then HI’s John Perry, then Labor’s Peter Monaghan, and finally HI’s Muriel Whitfield serving as mayor from 2011 until the 2012 election.

The 2012 election saw the Liberal Party emerge as the largest bloc, holding five seats. Labor maintained their four seats, while Holroyd Independents dropped to two seats. Former councillor Eddy Sarkis was re-elected as an independent.

Labor and Liberal formed an alliance to share the mayoralty, with first Ross Grove then Nasr Kafrouni serving as Liberal mayors from 2012 until 2014.

Labor’s Greg Cummings was elected as mayor in 2014 with the Liberal councillors splitting between Cummings and HI’s John Brodie. Cummings was re-elected in 2015, and served as mayor until the council was abolished in 2016.

History – Granville
The Woodville ward of Parramatta council was in an unusual position, sticking out from the rest of the council and surrounded by Holroyd and Auburn councils. The ward covered most of Granville and all of South Granville and Guildford, and conveniently for our analysis the entire ward was transferred into the new Cumberland council intact.

In 2004, Labor won a majority on Parramatta council, and this included winning two out of three seats in Woodville. The third went to the Liberal Party.

Labor lost its second seat in Woodville, and its majority on the council, in 2008. Alongside one Labor councillor and one Liberal, councillor Paul Garrard, who had been elected in 2004, was returned as an independent. Woodville Liberal councillor Tony Issa become lord mayor in 2008, followed by Garrard in 2009.

This result was repeated in 2012, with one Liberal and one Labor councillor joined by Garrard. Garrard was elected to his sixth term as lord mayor of Parramatta in 2015, and served in that role until the council was sacked in 2016.

Candidate summary
The Labor lead candidates for each ward are:

  • Greystanes – Greg Cummings
  • Granville – Steve Christou
  • Regents Park – George Campbell
  • South Granville – Glenn Elmore
  • Wentworthville – Lisa Lake

All of these candidates except for Steve Christou were sitting councillors on Auburn, Parramatta or Holroyd council.

The Our Local Community party, founded by former Parramatta mayor Paul Garrard, is running:

  • Granville – Rima Balech
  • South Granville – Paul Garrard
  • Wentworthville – Mark Pigram

Both Labor and Liberal have consistently won seats on Holroyd, Auburn and Parramatta councils in recent years, and while all of these areas have traditionally favoured Labor, we saw the Liberal Party outpoll Labor across the area at the 2012 election.

It is very likely that Labor and Liberal will each win one seat in each ward, with the final seat up for grabs. The performance of the major parties will significantly depend on which independents stand. There are strong independent groupings which were represented on Auburn and Holroyd councils, along with Paul Garrard from Parramatta. Garrard announced the formation of the ‘Our Local Community’ party to contest Parramatta council’s elections in 2013: it’s not clear whether this party will contest either or both of the two councils which have replaced the former Parramatta.

The strength of their campaigns could have a big impact on the Labor vote, for one. Labor dominated the Auburn area at the 2013 federal election, but these areas were the worst for Labor at the 2012 council election.

2012 council result

Party Votes % % where contested
Liberal 27,782 31.4 31.4
Labor 24,462 27.7 27.7
Holroyd Independents 8,567 9.7 23.3
Residents Action Group for Auburn (RAGAA) 4,262 4.8 15.9
Paul Garrard 4,118 4.7 26.4
Unity 2,550 2.9 7.1
Eddy Kassem 2,311 2.6 14.8
Eddy Sarkis 2,141 2.4 23.0
Le Lam 1,965 2.2 13.6
Salim Mehajer 1,917 2.2 7.2
Tony Oldfield 1,355 1.5 11.0
Gillian Kirby 1,178 1.3 9.9
Mark Pigram 1,042 1.2 8.7
Greens 968 1.1 7.9
Others 3,780 4.3 7.0

Ward breakdown – federal
Since there are different factors in each local council election, I’ve included the results of the 2013 federal election to give a sense of underlying support.

The Labor Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in four out of five areas in 2013, polling around 53-54% in Granville and Wentworthville and 61-62% in Regents Park and South Granville. The Liberal Party barely won a majority in Greystanes.

On the primary vote there’s a clear trend: Labor did much better in Regents Park and Granville wards, while winning more narrowly in Granville and Wentworthville. The Labor vote in Greystanes was close to that in two of the other wards, but the Liberal Party vote was higher thanks to a particularly low Greens and independent vote.

Ward ALP 2PP % ALP % LIB % GRN % OTH %
Granville 53.4 45.0 41.0 4.2 9.8
Greystanes 49.9 44.5 45.5 3.0 6.9
Regents Park 61.2 54.3 34.4 4.3 7.0
South Granville 61.9 55.9 33.0 3.1 8.0
Wentworthville 53.8 45.8 41.2 4.3 8.7

Ward breakdown – 2012 council results
I have also broken down 2012 council election results by ward.

The Liberal vote ranged from 23% in Regents Park to almost 42% in Greystanes. Labor’s vote ranged from 23% in South Granville to 35% in Wentworthville.

The Holroyd Independents polled 24% in Greystanes and almost 30% in those parts of Granville ward where they had stood, along with 19.5% in Wentworthville. The Residents Action Group for Auburn (RAGAA) polled 15% in Regents Park and 18% in the parts of South Granville previously contained in Auburn council.

Granville 26.6 35.1 29.6 1.92 25.0
Greystanes 29.7 41.9 23.7 0.0 4.7
Regents Park 23.7 23.4 15.0 12.3 25.6
South Granville 23.0 25.1 17.8 2.52 40.3
Wentworthville 34.7 30.9 19.5 4.62 18.0

1 The Holroyd Independents and Residents Action Group for Auburn each stood for their respective councils. Since no ward contains both parts of Holroyd and Auburn (thanks to the inclusion of Granville) they have been included in the one column. Holroyd Independents ran in three out of four wards in Holroyd, while RAGAA ran in both Auburn wards. Holroyd Independents stood across the entirety of Greystanes ward and parts of Granville and Wentworthville wards, while RAGAA stood across the entirety of Regents Park ward and part of South Granville ward.
2 The Unity Party stood in both wards of Auburn council and one ward of Holroyd council. Excluding those areas where Unity did not stand, they polled 12.6% in Granville, 4.9% in South Granville and 11.8% in Wentworthville.
3 The ‘others’ vote covers all independents who ran outside of the two council-wide local parties, as well as the Greens and Socialist Alliance.

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