Northern Beaches council election, 2017

Northern Beaches council covers the north-eastern corner of Sydney, including suburbs along the coast from Manly to Palm Beach. The council covers the entire Manly peninsula, and is bounded at its northern end by Broken Bay. The council covers the suburbs of Avalon Beach, Bayview, Newport, Mona Vale, Warriewood, Terrey Hills, Ingleside, Elanora Heights, Collaroy, Narrabeen, Belrose, Frenchs Forest, Beacon Hill, Dee Why, Cromer, Brookvale, Curl Curl, Freshwater, Manly Vale, Balgowlah, Seaforth, Fairlight and Manly.

Council amalgamations
Northern Beaches council is an amalgamation of the former Manly, Pittwater and Warringah councils.

Warringah council had initially supported the three councils amalgamating, while its two neighbours wished to stand alone. The two other councils then responded by proposing that Warringah be split in half with Pittwater and Manly expanding to take in its territory. The state government first endorsed this proposal, but later reversed its position and amalgamated the three councils as a single unit.

The new council has a population of approximately 293,000 as of 2014. The former Manly council had a population of 45,000, the former Pittwater council had a population of 63,000, and the former Warringah council had a population of approximately 155,000.


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

Curl Curl ward covers south-central parts of the council, including Dee Why, Curl Curl, North Manly and Brookvale.

Frenchs Forest ward covers inland parts of the council, including Allambie Heights, Davidson, Frenchs Forest, Belrose, Killarney Heights and Forestville.

Manly ward covers the southern end of the council, including Balgowlah, Fairlight, Manly, Manly Vale and Seaforth. The former Manly council is entirely contained in the new Manly ward.

Narrabeen ward covers north-central parts of the council, including Collaroy, Narrabeen, Ingleside and Elanore Heights.

Pittwater ward covers the northern end of the council, including Terrey Hills, Mona Vale, Bayview, Newport, Bilgola, Avalon Beach, Whale Beach and Palm Beach.

History – Manly

Manly council has been primarily a contest over the last decade between the Liberal team and a team of organised independents under the name Manly Independents.

Liberal candidate Jean Hay was elected mayor in 1999.

She was defeated in 2004 by Manly Independents mayoral candidate Peter Macdonald, a former independent state MP for Manly.

In addition to Macdonald, the Manly Independents won four council seats. The Liberal Party won five, with the balance of power shared by a Greens councillor and independent councillor Mark Norek.

The Liberal Party gained ground in 2008, with Jean Hay defeated Macdonald for the mayoralty. Apart from the change in mayoralty, there was little change in council numbers. The Liberal Party, the Greens and Mark Norek maintained their numbers, with the Manly Independents losing their fourth seat to Labor. The change in mayoralty, however, was enough to give the Liberal Party a majority.

Manly council shrank in size at the 2012 election, with the number of councillors reduced from eleven to seven. The Liberal Party won a majority of seats, winning four seats. Manly Independents won only two seats, while the Greens maintained their one seat. Liberal mayor Jean Hay was re-elected for a third term.

History – Pittwater
Pittwater council elections have largely been contested by independents, with no strong local parties or major parties contesting elections. Indeed the only councillors to be elected on a party ticket in the last three elections were two Greens candidates.

Pittwater council was created in 1992 as a breakaway from Warringah council, largely making up the former A Riding of Warringah council.

Conservative independent Patricia Giles served as mayor from 1997 until 2004. Giles has since been linked to Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party.

At the 2004 election, Giles managed to win two seats for her ticket in Central ward, but every other councillor was elected on their own ticket. Eight independents were elected, along with Greens councillor Natalie Stevens.

Lynne Czinner became mayor in 2004, serving one term.

Alex McTaggart became mayor in 2005, and shortly afterwards was elected to the state parliament at the Pittwater by-election. McTaggart lost his state seat at the 2007 election, and was replaced as mayor later in 2007.

David James became mayor in 2007, and was re-elected for a second term following the 2008 council election.

Only four of the incumbent councillors were re-elected in 2008: Patricia Giles, Bob Grace, David James and Julie Hegarty. David James got a second councillor (Jacqui Townsend) elected on his ticket in the south ward, while Harvey Rose won two seats on his ticket in the north ward.

Harvey Rose succeeded David James as mayor in 2009, and he served until the next election in 2012.

No tickets won more than one seat in 2012. Sitting councillors Bob Grace, Ian White, Julie Hegarty and Jacqui Townsend were re-elected, with former councillor Alex McTaggart returning to the council. The Greens won a single seat.

Jacqui Townsend served as mayor of Pittwater for the entire 2012-2016 term. At the last two mayoral elections she defeated Julie Hegarty by a vote of 5-4. With Ian White and Selena Griffith also losing deputy mayoral elections to Kylie Ferguson by the same margin.

History – Warringah

Warringah council was sacked by the state government in 2003, and did not face election in 2004.

The 2008 election saw the Wake Up Warringah team win three seats on the council. There were also two Greens elected, along with one Community First councillor and three independents. One of these independents, Jason Falinski, went on to become the federal MP representing the area in 2016.

Michael Regan led the Wake Up Warringah ticket and won the directly-elected mayoralty in a fiercely-contested race. In a field of twelve candidates, Regan led the primary vote with 19.65%. Four other candidates polled over 10%, including the Greens candidate and successful independent councillors Julie Sutton and Jason Falinski.

Regan’s Wake Up team broke down before the 2012 election, with one of his councillors, Michelle Ray, joining the team of independent councillor Vincent De Luca (elected as Community First in 2008).

Regan formed a new party called Your Warringah, and his team dominated the election. He won 56.3% of the primary vote in the mayoral election, and his team won five out of nine seats on the council. The council opposition consisted of independent councillors Vincent De Luca, Pat Daley, Bob Giltinan and Jose Menano-Pires. The Greens lost both of their seats on the council.

Candidate summary
Former Warringah mayor Michael Regan is running for re-election at the head of a rebranded Your Northern Beaches party, an expansion of his former Your Warringah party. Former Pittwater mayor Jacqui Townsend is not running for re-election.

Bella Buda is running for her newly-formed Manly First party.

At a federal and state level, the Northern Beaches are dominated by the Liberal Party, but the party has not officially contested two of the three former councils in the new council area.

If the Liberal Party officially contests the election, they would definitely win a significant share of the council, but there are also strong independents who are likely to do well. The Manly Independents group used to dominate the Manly council and someone from that group should win at least one seat in the Manly ward, while the Your Northern Beaches group will also be a strong presence in the Warringah area.

2012 council result

Party Votes % % where contested
Your Warringah 33,757 27.7 47.7
Greens 14,404 11.8 14.3
Liberal 9,488 7.8 48.1
Bob Giltinan 6,165 5.1 25.1
Pat Daley 4,954 4.1 20.2
Sue Young 4,739 3.9 44.7
Jacqui Townsend 4,460 3.7 42.0
Jose Menano-Pires 4,316 3.5 18.4
Vincent De Luca 4,123 3.4 18.0
Julie Hegarty 3,998 3.3 37.7
Bob Grace 3,889 3.2 39.0
Ian White 3,654 3.0 34.4
Manly Independents 3,609 3.0 18.3
Candy Bingham 2,975 2.4 15.1
Alex McTaggart 2,731 2.2 27.4
Jason Falinski 2,464 2.0 10.8
Kylie Ferguson 2,215 1.8 20.9
Kay Millar 2,157 1.8 20.3
Virginia Laugesen 1,803 1.5 7.7
Labor 1,573 1.3 8.0
Others 3,444 2.8 4.4

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

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all five wards, with a vote ranging from 63% in Curl Curl and Manly to 70% in Narrabeen.

The Labor vote ranged from 16% in Pittwater to 21% in Curl Curl, while the Greens vote ranged from 12.6% in Frenchs Forest to 17% in Manly. The Greens outpolled Labor in Pittwater.

Ward LIB 2PP % LIB % ALP % GRN % OTH %
Curl Curl 63.4 58.0 21.2 14.7 6.1
Frenchs Forest 69.3 64.0 18.0 12.6 5.4
Manly 63.8 59.2 19.6 17.0 4.1
Narrabeen 69.6 62.9 17.3 13.1 6.6
Pittwater 68.5 62.0 15.8 16.7 5.6

Ward breakdown – 2012 council results
I have also broken down 2012 council election results by ward. The only official groups which ran in more than one of the new council wards were Your Warringah and the Greens. These two groups contested at least part of all five new wards.

The Liberal Party, Labor and Manly Independents only contested Manly council, which is wholly contained in the new Manly ward, and thus the first table in this guide can tell you that they polled 48%, 8% and 18% respectively in that area.

Your Warringah polled over 60% in Frenchs Forest and over 30% in Curl Curl and Narrabeen, and once you factor in areas where the party didn’t contest, the party polled over 30% in every ward.

The Greens vote was lower, but was still over 10% everywhere they contested.

Ward YW % GRN % OTH %
Curl Curl 39.9 15.8 44.4
Frenchs Forest 63.9 12.2 23.9
Manly 6.31 11.5 82.2
Narrabeen 34.91 9.42 55.8
Pittwater 4.41 10.02 85.6

1 The Your Warringah party only ran in Warringah council, and thus did not contest the entirety of the Manly, Narrabeen or Pittwater wards. Excluding areas they did not contest, Your Warringah polled 31.3% in Manly ward, 52.8% in Narrabeen ward and 60.2% in Pittwater ward.
2 The Greens did not contest two wards of Pittwater council, which overlap with the Narrabeen and Pittwater wards. Excluding areas they did not contest, the Greens polled 14.2% in Narrabeen ward and 21.6% in Pittwater ward.

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

Election results for the Your Warringah party in the former Warringah council area at the 2012 council election

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.