Georges River council election, 2017

Georges River covers parts of southern Sydney on the north side of the Georges River. The council is bordered to the west by Salt Pan Creek, by Broad Arrow Road and the M5 to the north, and by Kingsgrove Road, Croydon Road, the Princes Highway and Rocky Point Road to the east. The council covers the suburbs of Blakehurst, Kogarah, Hurstville, Connells Point, Allawah, Penshurst, Oatley, Mortdale, Peakhurst, Lugarno, Beverly Hills and Riverwood. The new council has a population of about 147,000 as of 2014.

Council amalgamations
Georges River council is an amalgamation of the former Hurstville and Kogarah councils. These two former councils, along with the former Rockdale council, are considered to make up the St George region.

Hurstville council contained a population of about 86,000 as of 2014, while Kogarah contained a population of about 61,000 as of 2014.

Wards
Georges River is divided into five wards, with each ward electing three councillors. These five wards largely follow the boundaries of the seven wards which previously covered the area.

The former Hurstville ward was divided between the Hurstville, Peakhurst and Penshurst wards, with each ward electing four members. These three wards have been maintained, with each now electing three members, although the Penshurst ward has been renamed as Mortdale.

Hurstville ward covers northern parts of the council, including Beverly Hills and Kingsgrove.

Peakhurst ward covers the western end of the council, including Lugarno, Peakhurst and Riverwood.

Mortdale ward covers north-western parts of the council, including Mortdale and Penshurst.

The four wards of the former Kogarah council have been largely amalgamated into the Blakehurst and Kogarah Bay wards, with some minor changes to the boundaries.

Blakehurst ward covers southern parts of the council close to the river, including Blakehurst, Oatley, Connells Point and Hurstville Grove. The Blakehurst ward covers the former Middle ward and most of the West ward.

Kogarah Bay ward covers the eastern end of the council, including Allawah, Kogarah Bay and Kogarah. The Kogarah Bay ward covers the former East and North wards.

History – Hurstville
Labor dominated Hurstville council in the last decade, before the Liberal Party took control of the mayoralty in 2012.

Labor’s Vince Badalati served as mayor from 2001 until 2004.

The 2004 election saw Labor win six out of twelve seats, alongside three Liberals, two independents and one Unity councillor.

Labor’s Joanne Harris replaced Badalati as mayor in 2004, but Badalati returned to the mayoralty in 2005, serving until 2009.

The 2008 election saw Labor’s support slip to only five seats, with the second Labor seat in Peakhurst ward lost to the Greens. The remaining seats stayed the same: three Liberals, two independents and one from the Unity Party.

Labor’s Philip Sansom replaced Badalati as mayor in 2009, and he was succeeded in 2011 by Steve McMahon.

The 2012 election produced a stronger result for the Liberal Party, who won a fourth seat. The Labor Party maintained its five seats. The Unity Party held their one seat while the Greens lost their seat. Two independents were elected, including former Labor mayor Philip Sansom.

Liberal councillor Jack Jacovou became mayor in 2012. In 2013, Liberal councillor Andrew Istephan was forced to resign, and his seat was won in a by-election by a Labor candidate.

Around 2013 and 2014, we saw a breakdown in the partisan blocs on Hurstville council. Firstly the Labor bloc broke down with some Labor councillors voting for Jacovou for a second term in 2013, over fellow Labor councillor Vince Badalati.

By 2014, the Liberal bloc was also disintegrating, and from 2014 until the end of the term we saw the formation of two new alliances. The majority alliance elected Liberal councillor Con Hindi as mayor in 2014, and Vince Badalati as mayor in 2015. Badalati served as mayor until the council’s abolition in 2016.

History – Kogarah
Kogarah council was split between Labor and Liberal control in the 2004-2008 term, but was controlled by the Liberal Party for its last two terms.

Neither party won a majority on the 2004 council, and this resulted in a split in the mayoralty. Labor’s Michael Platt was mayor from 2004 to 2005, followed by Liberal councillors Nickolas Varvaris and Michael Kitmiridis. Labor’s Nickolas Katris took up the mayoralty from 2007 to 2008.

At the 2008 election, the Liberal Party won five seats, and Labor won four. There was also one Unity member and two independents.

The Liberal Party maintained control of the mayoralty continuously for the final eight years of Kogarah council. Nickolas Varvaris was mayor of Kogarah from 2008 until 2013, when he was elected as the federal member for Barton.

The Liberal Party solidified their control in 2012, winning a sixth seat at the expense of an independent. Varvaris was succeeded by fellow Liberal Stephen Agius in 2013. Agius was re-elected in 2014 and 2015 and remained mayor until the council was abolished in 2016.

Candidate summary
The Labor and Liberal parties are each running a full ticket across all five wards.

Former Labor councillors Vince Badalati, Kathryn Landsberry and Nick Katris are heading the Labor ticket for Hurstville, Blakehurst and Kogarah Bay wards. Former state MP Kevin Greene is leading the Labor ticket in the Peakhurst ward.

Former Liberal councillors Con Hindi, Christina Wu and Stephen Agius are heading the Liberal ticket for Mortdale, Hurstville and Kogarah Bay wards respectively. Rita Kastanias, who was elected in 2012 as an independent, is leading the Liberal ticket in Peakhurst.

The Greens are running in the Mortdale and Peakhurst wards, while the Kogarah Residents Association is running in Kogarah Bay ward, and the Christian Democratic Party are running for Hurstville ward (although they don’t appear to be running enough candidates for a box above the line).

Ten other independent groups are running, including at least one in each ward. Former independent councillor Philip Sansom is heading a team in Peakhurst ward.

Assessment
Georges River is a council covering an area which has been trending towards the Liberal Party over the last decade at all levels of government. The Liberal Party is on track to win seats in all five wards, and a second seat in the Blakehurst ward. They could also stand a chance at winning a seventh or eighth seat, depending on how well the independents perform. It seems likely that they will outpoll Labor, and are more likely to be in the box seat in terms of running the new council.

2012 council result

Party Votes % % where contested
Liberal 27,034 37.9 37.9
Labor 19,933 28.0 28.0
Unity 4,524 6.3 13.4
Rita Kastanias 2,535 3.6 17.3
Lachlan McLean 2,459 3.5 33.7
Philip Sansom 2,204 3.1 15.0
Bill Pickering 2,003 2.8 13.6
Others 10,571 14.8 18.7

Ward breakdown – federal
Since there are different factors in each local council election, I’ve included the results of the 2013 and 2016 federal elections to give a sense of underlying support.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in four areas, ranging from 50.1% in Mortdale to 59.6% in Blakehurst. Labor won a narrow 50.1% majority in Hurstville.

The Labor primary vote was by far the lowest in the Blakehurst area, and peaked in Hurstville and Mortdale.

Peakhurst also leans strongly towards the Liberal Party, and Kogarah Bay appears to be the swing ward.

2013 federal election

Ward LIB 2PP % LIB % ALP % GRN % OTH %
Blakehurst 59.3 54.6 33.3 5.8 6.2
Hurstville 50.1 44.7 43.0 4.7 7.6
Kogarah Bay 51.4 45.4 40.7 5.4 8.5
Mortdale 49.6 44.6 42.7 5.3 7.4
Peakhurst 55.5 51.1 37.9 5.0 6.1

2016 federal election

Ward LIB 2PP % LIB % ALP % GRN % OTH %
Blakehurst 59.6 52.2 31.8 6.9 9.1
Hurstville 49.9 41.7 42.1 6.2 10.0
Kogarah Bay 51.7 44.0 39.8 6.2 9.9
Mortdale 50.1 42.4 40.8 6.3 10.5
Peakhurst 55.2 48.2 36.7 5.8 9.3

Ward breakdown – 2012 council results
I have also broken down 2012 council election results by ward. The following map shows a clear trend where the Liberal vote is strongest close to the river, while Labor does better further north.

The Liberal Party dominated the Blakehurst ward, winning 58% of the primary vote and four out of the six councillors elected to represent the area on Kogarah council. In contrast, the Liberal Party won between 29.6% and 33.8% in the four remaining wards.

Labor’s vote ranged from 23% in Blakehurst ward to 37.4% in Hurstville ward.

The vote for other candidates ranged significantly. 46% of the vote in Peakhurst went to candidates other than the major parties. This ward saw two independents elected to Hurstville council, while a sitting independent councillor also contested unsuccessfully.

The Kogarah Bay ward also saw a high ‘other’ vote, in part thanks to the presence of a sitting independent and sitting Unity councillor, both of whom were re-elected.

Ward LIB % ALP % OTH %
Blakehurst 58.2 22.7 19.2
Hurstville 29.6 37.4 33.1
Kogarah Bay 33.8 26.6 39.6
Mortdale 33.4 33.3 33.3
Peakhurst 32.8 21.3 45.9

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

Candidates – Blakehurst ward

  • A – Labor
    1. Kathryn Landsberry
    2. Sarina Foulstone
    3. Fran Smith
  • B – Independent
    1. Sandy Grekas
    2. Susan Szalay
    3. Belinda Gibson
  • C – Liberal
    1. Sam Elmir
    2. Sam Stratikopoulos
    3. Yue Qi Zhang
  • Ungrouped
    • Ross Green

Candidates – Hurstville ward

  • A – Liberal
    1. Jinying (Christina) Wu
    2. Haris Strangas
    3. Samira Challita
  • B – Labor
    1. Vince Badalati
    2. Dominic Sin
    3. Mei Mei Chau
  • C – Christian Democratic Party
    1. Wanwen Wen
    2. Catherine Zhao
  • D – Independent
    1. Ben Wang
    2. Graeme Young
    3. Chung Yu Wong
  • E – Independent
    1. Stanley Xie
    2. Janette Chan
    3. Michael Fung
  • F – Independent
    1. William Koshakji
    2. Heshaam Bikhazi
    3. Joe Biviano
  • G – Independent
    1. Nancy Liu
    2. Mark Cooke
    3. Gang Wang

Candidates – Kogarah Bay ward

  • A – Kogarah Residents’ Association
    1. Leesha Payor
    2. Brian Shaw
    3. Melissa Derwent
  • B – Labor
    1. Nick Katris
    2. Ashvini Ambihaipahar
    3. Leon Pun
  • C – Liberal
    1. Stephen Agius
    2. Xu (Tim) Feng
    3. Susana Agius
  • D – Independent
    1. George Manias
    2. Dorothy Pawlukowski
    3. Greg McAleer

Candidates – Mortdale ward

  • A – Liberal
    1. Con Hindi
    2. Marcus Ho
    3. Nick Smerdely
  • B – Independent
    1. Allan Zreik
    2. Tak Li
    3. Mandy Wyer
  • C – Independent
    1. Lou Konjarski
    2. Zhen Jiang
    3. Lila Taylor
  • D – Labor
    1. Warren Tegg
    2. Frances Greene
    3. Rod Sutton
  • E – Greens
    1. Peter Sangster
    2. Philippa Clark
    3. Jack Bell

Candidates – Peakhurst ward

  • A – Labor
    1. Kevin Greene
    2. Colleen Symington
    3. Veronica Ficarra
  • B – Greens
    1. Anne Wagstaff
    2. Kim Wagstaff
    3. Peter Mahoney
  • C – Independent
    1. Philip Sansom
    2. Cathy Waters
    3. Ray Barbi
  • D – Liberal
    1. Rita Kastanias
    2. Dave Grosvenor
    3. Heather Griffiths
  • E – Independent
    1. Nicholas Christo
    2. Robert Sleiman
    3. Steven Waters

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.