Hornsby by-election incoming after Kean’s resignation

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Former NSW treasurer Matt Kean has chosen today, NSW budget day, to announce that he will be retiring from state politics, thus triggering a by-election for his seat of Hornsby.

He has also said that he won’t run for federal politics, dismissing speculation about a challenge to federal Liberal MP Paul Fletcher in Bradfield.

You can read my guide here.

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84 COMMENTS

  1. Natalie Ward, the current deputy leader of the NSW Liberal Party with leadship ambition, should run here. This will also open an opportunity for Gisele Kapterian, the Liberal candidate for the soon-to-be-abolished federal seat of North Sydney, to enter state politics. If Natalie Ward runs in the Hornsby by-election, Gisele Kapterian can nominate for the Legislative Council vacancy left by Natalie Ward. She would have no chance if she contests Warringah or Mackellar (She has personally said she won’t run in Bennelong).

  2. The federal liberals desperately need more people like Matt Kean, prominent moderates who are capable of leading the liberal party. I reckon despite all the abuse from sky news he saved a fair bit of furniture in the NSW election. Only problem is if he got in he might get “john pesuttoed ” and have difficulty wrangling the more dominant conservative faction.

  3. Think Labor are likely to sit it out. Greens will get a very decent showing – they’re actually quite strong at the council level and were already gearing up for that campaign – but not enough to win the seat. It’s also possible a teal could emerge following Dutton’s recent climate announcements, but not clear who.

    As for Kean I think he’ll lie low for a bit then come in after 2025 if the Liberal Party wants to shift gears under Dutton. He could also emerge as an independent running for Berowra if they don’t.

  4. @Joseph – Good compromise. On a side note, Natalie Ward interestingly contested preselection for Davidson in 2023 after the retirement of the Liberal member, though surprisingly lost despite having profile as a minister and the NSW Liberals ‘women-forward’ preselection campaign. If she ran here, she’d be a shoo-in. It would be a huge faux pas to deny the Deputy Liberal leader a place for a seat in the Legislative Assembly.

    If she was chosen and won the by-election, would she stay Deputy Leader? Robyn Preston (Hawkesbury), is the Deputy Opposition Leader in the Legislative Assembly, so you would think one of them would resign. Though they both have shadow portfolios so not much to lose.

  5. @Nether Portal no he doesnt

    @SAm if you were on or near any booth in NSW you would of heard that every mp got a complaint about him. including Matt Kean.

  6. I agree there should be a female candidate. The State Libs currently dont have a female MP in the Upper North Shore or the Northern Beaches.

  7. @ John
    The lack of Female MP has hurt the Libs in Teal seats. I think Davidson was a missed opportunity last time for Natalie Ward. Just like what hurt Labor in Fowler last time with a lack of a diverse canadiate. Gender Equity has been an issue that has helped the Teals.

  8. @nimalan didnt work out so good in aston did it?

    also this isnt a teal seat this is a blue ribbon seat and teal has no chance here having matt kean here probably hurt them more then it helped as evidence of the 11% swing

  9. @ John
    I agree it did not work out in Aston, Roshena Campbell was a parachute. I am talking more generally about Tealish seats not Hornsby in particular ideally they should be at-least one Female Liberal MP in the Norhern Beaches or Upper North Shore.

  10. @Nimalan it would be good and I would expect Speakman to select a moderate at least.

    @John come on, he wasn’t bad. He served as Treasurer under a government regarded by many as one of the greatest of all time (dare I say the NSW state version of the Howard government). Look at how much NSW has moved forward with infrastructure, health, education, etc.

  11. @NP firstly its not up to speakman its a rank and file vote
    secondly no he was only treasurer under perrotett and thats not the job he wanted. i was on a booth at the election and the amount of comments about matt kean was bad. i was told every mp got complaints about him

  12. @Nimalan it’s always different when a candidate gets parachuted into a marginal seat. While Labor technically parachuted Mary Doyle in Aston, she didn’t live as far from Aston as Roshena Campbell did (Campbell is a councillor in the Melbourne City Council while Doyle lived in Mitcham which is in the nearby seat of Deakin, an ultra-marginal Liberal seat).

    Interestingly Russell Broadbent, the retiring Liberal-turned-independent member for Monash in regional Victoria, lives in Pakenham, a suburb on the outskirts of Melbourne on the western side of the seat of La Trobe. Despite that, plus his views and the seat’s marginal status, he’s held the seat since its creation in 2019. Either Labor must’ve screwed something up or the electorate voted him in based on his party affiliation.

  13. @John I’m sure every well-known MP gets complaints from everyone everywhere. It’s just politics mate.

    I know how preselections work too. I’m an LNP member. While he was only Treasurer under Perrottet he still held important roles as throughout the 12 years of Coalition government in NSW.

  14. @NP as long as your not dropping someone from a different world and the other side of the city voters generally dont care.

    we had the same problem in Indo with Sophie Mirabella. she was from Melbourne and got parachuted into Indi and was only voted in on party afiiliation

  15. @John he appealed to teals yes and Perrottet appealed to more conservative and more religious people. There was a great deal of compromise among Perrottet and Kean.

  16. Hi everyone, I’m Saffron. I probably won’t comment here much but I just wanna give some insights.

    I’m a young moderate Liberal living in Hornsby. Looking at the comments here about whether a female candidate should be preselected in this seat: absolutely, the North Shore doesn’t have any female MPs on the state level. But of course the candidate shouldn’t just be preselected on the basis of gender. If she’s a good candidate, great, but if there’s a male candidate and he’s also good, that’s also great.

    Will Labor contest? I don’t know. They want to get a majority but they aren’t contesting Northern Tablelands (though that’s obvious) but this is more winnable than Northern Tablelands even though I think the Liberals will retain it.

    I know Matt Kean, he’s been a great MP. Some teals vote for him and for Julian Leeser in Berowra (federally) because they’re moderates even if they don’t like Dutton.

  17. John – “gender blind, merit based and local branch choice.”

    What does merit based even mean? Who’s to say that one sort of merit may be “better” or “worse” than some other sort of claim to merit. How does merit equate to actual candidacy and/or job performance in the role? How many underperforming elected candidates lose preselection because someone of “greater merit” might come along?

    Gender blind? What does that even mean in actual practice and reality, not theory. Name one “gender blind” political preselection.

    Local branch choice. Probably accurate.

  18. @Sapphire welcome to the Tally Room!

    Interesting to hear your POV (I don’t think we have any regular commenters who are female). I agree the candidate should be picked based on whoever is the better candidate but a female candidate would be good to get more women to vote for the Coalition (women are statistically less likely to vote for conservative parties than men are).

    @John I agree, Labor won’t win this. Comparing it to Balmain is over the top but for Labor to win here it would be like the Liberals winning Blacktown or Newcastle.

  19. I think the libs losing this is conceivable, however unlikely, given a fair chunk of that 8% margin is specific to Kean.

    It is very unfortunate that the electorate crosses the Galston Gorge due to connectivity and lack of demographic unity. Such also makes the seat harder to lose for the Libs. I hope something close to the 1999/2003 boundaries gets restored at the next redistribution though that is likely quite far away.

    If the results are even close, say a Liberal retain on 2.5%, then Mayor Ruddock should be worried – Hornsby Council mayoral election will be run on boundaries that include all of State Hornsby but with a significant dilution of the Cherrybrook/Galston/Dural parts.

  20. @John
    I have talked to a resident who told me Kean has a very solid reputation. Seems to indicate things could have gone worse for the Libs in Kean’s absence.
    Caveat: Things may be different on the other side of the gorge – the said resident lives east of the gorge.

  21. @leon must just be on the north shore i heard stories from all over the state people cursing hs name

  22. Not sure at what point the teal nature of Bradfield gives way to the deep blue Hillsong vote of Mitchell but I would have thought Hornsby itself was still pretty teal? Greens do decently well and even outpoll Labor at the local government level. That has been fairly consistent trait (low ALP vote, high Green vote) in the areas that are now teal.

  23. My suspicion is I think Beecroft and Cheltenham (and anything from there to Brooklyn) is, probably not exactly a teal area but more so a possible Blue vs Green area like say Indooroopilly (I suppose there is a difference but I concede can’t back this up well).

    Epping I highly doubt is Teal or Blue-Green but I doubt is Hillsong either.

    Cherrybrook and West Pennant Hills (the latter is split though) I’d definitely say is Hillsong Country – I still wonder what those suburbs are doing in Hornsby Shire when they belong right in the Hills Shire.

  24. The Liberal vote along the corridor from Cheltenham to Brooklyn is surprisingly soft given it’s the transition between the Upper North Shore and The Hills.

    Also, reducing The Hills to Hillsong is a misleading caricature. (I say this as someone who has lived in The Hills for much of my life and been involved in various churches in that time.) Firstly, The Hills is only just barely majority Christian, and among them, almost half are Catholic. Pentecostals are two percent of the population of The Hills. That’s similar to the theologically liberal Uniting Church (who think Pentecostals are too conservative), and to the theologically reformed (that is, Calvinist) Presbyterians (who think that Pentecostals are too “worldly”), neither of whom are ever spoken of. Anglicans (who in Sydney, are very similar to Presbyterians) are 10% of The Hills.

  25. @Nicholas I agree in fact there are way more Chinese people in The Hills (over 12% I think) than Pentecostals.

  26. Wisemans Ferry had an interesting result in 2023. The Liberals easily won it with a big lead on first preferences and TPP but it was actually One Nation who finished second with the Greens at third and Labor at fourth.

  27. @ Nicholas
    Further to Nether Portal’s point. This seat has some of the highest % of Hindus in the country and even the % Muslims is close to 5% and after Banks it is the Liberal seat with the highest % of Muslims. I think the high CALD % makes it quite culturally different from the Shire which some commentators have compared the Hills to.

  28. As someone who grew up in this area then returned some decades later (although currently based overseas); whilst historically Liberal this seat has never quite been “blue ribbon” and is demographically quite different to the Upper North Shore. It was twice extremely marginal during the Wran era and a tight squeeze upon reinstatement in 1999 and again in 2003.

    What currently renders it unlosable were 2 factors from the 2004 redistribution:
    – moving the western boundary over Galston Gorge into the semi rural areas of Hornsby LGA
    – dividing the main centre of Hornsby itself with part going to Ku-ring-gai (now Wahroonga)

    In many ways, it mirrors the federal counterpart of Berowra which has 3 separate zones, each with its own voting characteristics and demographics ….. and little to no common communities of interest.

    The vote around Hornsby itself and the transport corridors north and south are the most “established” areas although the housing stock has become more medium density. Whilst some parts have always been rather marginal (with a considerable Lab/Grn quotient that tends to vote tactically), this has become more extensive.

    I would agree with Nicholas regarding WPH/Cherrybrook. This is NOT real Bible Belt turf. This area tends to gravitate to Castle Hill rather than Hornsby as a service “hub” and its voting more akin to the older areas of Mitchell.

    The semi-rural areas, whilst still part of Hornsby LGA, are in practical terms far more Hills district with the only direct route to Hornsby being the questionable road through Galston Gorge. Otherwise, they need to route south through Pennant Hills.

    Regarding Kean; whilst at times it was almost a case of him being present at the opening of a fridge … if it could get him some local media attention; the guy was able to deliver some much needed infrastructure (particularly with redevelopment of Hornsby Hospital) and he was a good fit for the electorate.

  29. Problem is Kean wanted to be premier and not opposition leader and wasn’t willing to wait for 2 terms or so to become it.

  30. Firstly, Matt Kean won’t be going federal anytime soon. He’s pursuing a career in the renewable energy industry. Also, all winnable spots on the NSW LNP Senate ticket are filled and the lower house seat availability in the northern suburbs is limited unless he wants to contest a teal seat.

    The traditional Bible Belt is commonly associated with semi-rural and low-density suburbs on the outskirts and coincides with Hills Shire LGA. I’d say geographically it starts from around Berowra Valley National Park where Cherrybrook is, though it is not in the Hills Shire. It then runs to Old Windsor Road.

    The rural localities from Dural to Wisemans Ferry is perhaps the real Bible Belt as statistically there are higher rates of people identifying as Christian and there are lower rates of atheism. This may be to do with its southern European migrant population or the higher-than-median age, both cohorts tend to be more religious than the typical Australian resident.

  31. Cherrybrook is 31.9% non-religious (close to the NSW average of 32.8%) and 44.5% Christian (below the NSW average of 51.1%).

    Even in Castle Hill, it’s 29.6% and 52.3% respectively, and in Baulkham Hills, it’s 29.7% and 49.9%, which are hardly remarkable.

    It’s only once you get to the newer parts of The Hills (the Bella Vista to Box Hill corridor) that rates of irreligion drop significantly.

  32. @ Nicholas
    the newer parts of the Hills has a higher CALD community which explains the lower % of irreligion. Areas that have higher CALD communities have lower % of irreligion.

  33. Thanks for the interesting answers and apologies for the reductive comment on Hillsong – it was a short hand for my understanding that the Liberal vote in the Hills was based on religion.

    Perhaps Mitchell isn’t going to stay ultra safe Liberal if it does have some more “teal” demographics and with the metro line bringing in more renters. There was a big swing against Liberals in Mitchell 2022 and Castle Hill in 2023.

  34. So I guess what all this is to say is that The Hills is not really a Bible belt, at least not anymore. Or, as Votante suggests, the “Bible belt” is actually the semi-rural suburbs where Christianity accounts for around 70% of the population. But then The Hills is not exceptional in this regard, as this is quite typical of semi-rural suburbs in Sydney. Horsley Park, for instance, is over 80% Christian.

  35. @Nimalan in North Kellyville, which is a new suburb (it was only established in 2018), this is what it looked like according to the 2021 census:

    * Nationality: 20.0% Australian, 18.4% English, 13.6% Indian, 11.1% Chinese, 4.7% Italian
    * Country of birth: 54.0% Australia, 9.5% India, 5.1% Mainland China, 2.4% Philippines, 2.0% South Africa, 2.0% Iran
    * Parents’ country of birth: 60.6% both parents born overseas, 5.8% father born overseas, 4.5% mother born overseas, 25.3% both parents born in Australia
    * Religion: 46.0% Christian (22.8% Catholic, 7.7% Anglican), 24.0% no religion, 11.2% Hindu, 8.7% Muslim
    * Language spoken at home: 53.0% English, 6.7% Hindi-Urdu (4.0% Hindi, 2.7% Urdu) 6.6% Mandarin, 4.0% Hindi, 2.9% Punjabi, 2.8% Arabic; non-English language used at home: 51.0%
    * Indigenous people: 96.6% non-Indigenous, 0.8% Indigenous
    * Median age: 33

    I know North Kellyville well since I know many people there so I picked it because it’s a multicultural suburb that’s new but still conservative in terms of voting trends.

  36. @John

    Nah, no need to apologise – it was clear that you were simply referring to the conservative tendencies of The Hills, and indeed religion plays some part in that. I just wanted to point out that the “Hillsong” caricature which is as you say often used as a “shorthand” for this isn’t quite accurate.

  37. @John it happens sometimes. In 2007 there was a big swing against the Liberals in Mitchell but they came back. I don’t see it having teal demographics: it’s upper-middle class, mostly white collar and even though plenty of renters are moving in, most people in the Hills still own their own home.

  38. @ Nether Portal
    Good comparison to North Kellyville, also look at Gables which is also a new suburb and very diverse. I agree it is not a Teal area but i think it is not hard right either. High income, educated, aspirational and ethnically tolerant. It is more perrottet style conservative rather than Sky After Dark Conservative. Many right wing on Family values etc but more moderate on immigration, climate etc so probably best represented by a Centre Right Pragmatic MP rather than a populist Trump style MP.

  39. @Nimalan You can put pretty much all of middle-ring and outer Eastern Melbourne in that category as well (Manningham and Whitehorse to Knox and Maroondah)

  40. @ Dan M
    Totally agree, as someone who grew up and still lives in Manningham. That is my experience as well you may have a lot of families who are concerned about what that their children are exposed online etc and socially conservative in many respects but more open and tolerant in other ways. I often compared Templestowe to Castle Hill etc. Other areas in NW Sydney such as Bennelong, parts of Greenway/Parramatta are also comparable to middle ring and outer Eastern Melbourne.

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