NSW council election day

Polls have just opened in those NSW councils holding elections today.

I won’t be blogging during the day, but will be doing some results coverage tonight. Feel free to use this post as an open thread.

I’ve written guides to the eight most populous councils. These councils are marked in blue on the below map, and if you click on a council you can click through to the guide. You can also access the guides from the menu at the top of the site.


Campbelltown City Council election – read the guide

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 10.04.20 amCampbelltown City is the eighth-most populous council up for election on Saturday, covering parts of south-western Sydney.

The council is elected as a single group, with 15 councillors representing the whole city. This makes the result very proportional and has allowed a block of independents to each win election at multiple elections thanks to a low vote spread across the council.

Labor has traditionally governed Campbelltown in alliance with a small number of independents, with Labor and independents alternating in holding the mayoral office from at least 1991 until 2012. The 2012 election was a difficult result for Labor, who were reduced to one third of seats on the council. The four Liberal councillors allied with three independents and the sole Liberal Democrat councillor to form a new alliance, and they have locked Labor out of power for the last four years.

It seems likely that Labor will regain control in 2016, likely in alliance with independents and possibly a Greens councillor, but the Liberal Party is a much stronger presence in Campbelltown than they were in past decades.

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Penrith council election – read the guide

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 10.11.44 amThe Liberal Party chose not to endorse an official ticket for Penrith City Council in 2012, but Liberals managed to win six seats on unofficial Liberal tickets. Labor managed four seats, along with three independents, and one seat each for the Greens and Australia First.

The Liberal Party governed the council in alliance with two independents from 2008 until 2014, when the alliance broke down. For the last two years, the mayoralty has been shared between the two major parties.

Labor will be hoping to rebound in Penrith in 2016, but they are a long way away from a clear majority on the council.

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City of Sydney council election – read the guide

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.56.12 pmThe City of Sydney is the only council in central Sydney going to the polls this September, and it should be a contentious battle for control of Town Hall.

Independent lord mayor Clover Moore is running for a fourth term, with conservative candidates running a big campaign to defeat Moore. A change to the voting system will massively increase the number of business votes, but Moore should be able to win a decent share of the business vote which may help her hold on in the mayoral election.

While Moore remains the favourite to win the mayoralty, it’s hard to see her alliance of independents maintaining a majority on the council, which may force Moore to rely on Labor and Greens councillors to govern the council.

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Liverpool council election – read the guide

liverpoolLiverpool council has traditionally leaned to Labor, but the Liberal Party managed to win half the council seats and the mayoralty in 2012.

Liberal mayor Ned Mannoun had a tumultuous four years in office, ending with an ICAC raid and a council motion prohibiting him from speaking on behalf of the council. Mannoun was denied Liberal preselection for the mayoralty at the election.

It seems likely that the Labor Party will regain seats from the Liberal Party in 2016, but it’s unclear whether they’ll be able to gain enough ground to regain control of the council.

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Lake Macquarie council election – read the guide

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 7.35.38 pmLake Macquarie is by far the biggest non-Sydney council facing election this month. The council covers suburbs on three sides of the lake, on the southern edge of the Newcastle metropolitan area.

The area leans strongly towards Labor at state and federal elections, but in local politics the council is contested between Labor and the centre-left Independent Lake Alliance, with the Liberal Party also having a foothold on the council.

The Alliance led the council from 2004 until 2012, with Greg Piper as mayor. Piper was elected to the state parliament in 2007, and has held that seat ever since.

Labor gained ground in 2012, with Jodie Harrison winning the mayoralty. Harrison was elected to represent Charlestown in the state parliament in 2014, and will be stepping down as mayor at this election.

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Fairfield council election – read the guide

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 2.00.06 pmFairfield council is probably the most interesting council to face the voters this month. The council is currently controlled by a narrow Labor majority, but both major parties have split, with significant independent forces running in the election.

Labor’s Frank Carbone became mayor in 2012, replacing Nick Lalich, who had gone on to hold the state seat of Cabramatta. Carbone was defeated for mayoral preselection this year by Del Bennett. As a response, Carbone is running for council and for mayor as an independent.

On the Liberal side, the party did not endorse candidates in 2012, and four Liberals were elected as independents. Only one of those four councillors is running on the Liberal ticket this year. Sitting independents Dai Le and Charbel Saliba are each running independent tickets for council, and Le is also running for mayor.

This makes the Fairfield council election a difficult one to predict, with four prominent councillors running for mayor. Whatever happens, it seems unlikely that the official Labor ticket will be able to hold on to a majority of seats on the council.

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Sutherland council election – read the guide

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 7.34.49 pmSutherland Shire is one of the most populous councils in Sydney, covering a large area in southern Sydney, bumping up against the Georges River, Botany Bay and the northern edge of Wollongong.

At a federal and state level, Sutherland leans towards the Liberal Party, with Labor only winning some of the more marginal seats when they are doing particularly well. But that hasn’t always been enough to give the Liberal Party control of the council, with an alliance of Labor and independents running the council from 2008 until 2011.

The Liberal Party won nine out of fifteen seats in 2012, almost wiping out the Shire Watch team, which had previously held five seats. Since that election, two conservative independents have joined the Liberal Party, putting them in a dominant position.

Sutherland has a history of electing many local independents, with the Liberal Party declining to endorse a formal party ticket as recently as 2008. Yet this year the election will mostly be a race between big statewide parties. There are no independents running in four out of five wards, and in two wards voters only have a choice between Labor and Liberal.

Read the guide


Blacktown council election – read the guide

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 9.20.09 am Blacktown City Council is the most populous NSW council to have an election this September. It was the largest council in NSW until the recent round of amalgamations, when Canterbury-Bankstown overtook Blacktown.

Blacktown is traditional Labor territory, but the last election produced a split result, with each major party winning seven seats and the last seat won by independent Russ Dickens, who sided with the Liberal Party.

This Liberal-independent alliance controlled the council for two years, but a Liberal defected to vote for Labor’s mayoral candidate Stephen Bali in a secret ballot in 2014, returning Labor to the mayoralty. Bali was re-elected in 2015 when a Liberal councillor defected to become an independent and join with the Labor councillors.

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NSW council elections – guides to the big councils

Council elections will be held in parts of New South Wales two weeks from now, on September 10. Voters will be able to start voting pre-poll as of today.

Not everyone in NSW gets to vote today. Any council which has either been amalgamated in the recent merger process, is proposed to be amalgamated, or has lost part of its territory to a boundary change, has had their election postponed until September 2017. Elections have been postponed across a majority of the Sydney region, as well as Newcastle, Wollongong, most of the central West and a bunch of other areas across the state.

In the Sydney region, most of the councils with elections are in Western Sydney, stretching from Blacktown and Hawkesbury in the north down to the Macarthur region in the south. Elections are also being held for the City of Sydney and Sutherland Shire, but the whole inner west, eastern suburbs and north shore regions, as well as Parramatta, Auburn and Bankstown, will have to wait another year.

For the first time I’ve decided to complete guides for some of the largest councils up for election.

There are eight councils in NSW with elections where the population is over 100,000 people. All eight are in urban areas, seven in Sydney. These eight councils are (in order of population) Blacktown, Sutherland, Fairfield, Lake Macquarie, Liverpool, Sydney, Penrith and Campbelltown.

So far I’ve completed guides for the first five of those councils, with Sydney, Penrith and Campbelltown to come in the next few days.

You can click through to the guides here:

I’ve also put together a map of the state showing the councils where guides have been prepared, and for the rest of the state indicates whether an election is due in 2016 or 2017.

It’s also worth noting that the election for Tweed council in the northeastern corner of the state has been postponed until October 29 due to the death of a candidate after nominations closed. Tweed was the tenth-most populous council due to have an election this year, after the eight listed above and Shoalhaven council, so if there’s demand I might do a guide for that special council election.

For each council I’ve tried to piece together the recent political history of each council but it can be difficult. Only a few councils have lists of former mayors, and council election results are only published as far back as 2004. If you have any insights or deeper knowledge of a particular council’s political history please comment and join the conversation.