Wentworth – Australia 2013

LIB 14.9%

Incumbent MP
Malcolm Turnbull, since 2004.

Eastern suburbs of Sydney. Wentworth covers Woollahra and Waverley local government areas, as well as eastern parts of the City of Sydney and northern parts of Randwick LGA. Wentworth covers the southern shore of Sydney Harbour as far west as Woolloomooloo, and covers the east coast from South Head to Clovelly. Main suburbs include Bondi, Woollahra, Vaucluse, Double Bay, Darlinghurst, Kings Cross and parts of Randwick and Clovelly. Wentworth also covers Moore Park and Centennial Park.

Wentworth is an original federation electorate and has always existed roughly in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. It has always been held by conservative parties, including the Liberal Party since its foundation in 1944.

The seat was first won by William McMillan of the Free Trade party in 1901. He was elected deputy leader of his party but retired at the 1903 election. He was succeeded by William Kelly, also a Free Trader. Kelly joined the Commonwealth Liberal Party and served in Joseph Cook’s ministry from 1913 to 1914.

Kelly retired in 1919 as a Nationalist and was succeeded by Walter Marks. Marks joined with other Nationalists, including Billy Hughes, to bring down the Bruce government in 1929, and was reelected as an independent. Marks joined the new United Australia Party in 1931, but was defeated in that year’s election by Eric Harrison, another UAP candidate.

Harrison held the seat for twenty-five years for the UAP and the Liberal Party. He usually held the seat safely, although he only held on by 335 votes in 1943, when feminist campaigner Jessie Street (ALP) challenged Harrison. William Wentworth also polled 20%. He later joined the Liberal Party and was elected in Mackellar in 1949.

Harrison had served a number of brief stints as a minister under Joseph Lyons and Robert Menzies in the 1930s and early 1940s, and served as the first deputy leader of the Liberal Party from its foundation until his retirement in 1956. Harrison was a minister in the Menzies government from 1949 until 1956, when he retired.

Les Bury (LIB) won the seat at the 1956 by-election. He served as a minister from 1961 until 1971, serving as Treasurer under John Gorton and briefly as Treasurer and then Foreign Minister under William McMahon. Bury retired in 1974.

Robert Ellicott (LIB) was elected in 1974. He served as Attorney-General in the first Fraser Ministry and as Minister for Home Affairs from 1977 to 1981, when he resigned to serve on the Federal Court. The ensuing by-election was won by Peter Coleman. Coleman had previously served as Leader of the Opposition in the NSW Parliament, and lost his seat at the 1978 state election.

Coleman retired in 1987 and was succeeded by John Hewson. Hewson was elected leader of the Liberal Party following their 1990 election defeat. Hewson led the party into the 1993 election, where the party went backwards. He was replaced in May 1994 as leader by Alexander Downer, and he retired from Parliament in 1995.

Andrew Thomson won the following by-election. Thomson served briefly as a Parliamentary Secretary and junior minister in the first term of the Howard government. Thomson was defeated for preselection by Peter King in 2001.

King himself was defeated for preselection in a heated preselection campaign in 2004 by Malcolm Turnbull. The preselection saw a massive explosion in membership numbers for the Liberal Party in Wentworth. King ran as an independent and polled 18%, and Turnbull’s margin was cut to 5.5%.

The redistribution after the 2004 election saw Wentworth extended deeper into the City of Sydney, and Turnbull’s margin was cut to 2.5%. Turnbull managed to win the seat in 2007 with a 1.3% swing towards him, in the face of a national swing against the Liberals.

Turnbull had served as a minister in the final term of the Howard government, and ran for the Liberal leadership following the 2007 election, losing to Brendan Nelson. After serving as Nelson’s Shadow Treasurer he was elected Leader of the Opposition in September 2008. After a rocky term as Leader of the Opposition, Turnbull was defeated by Tony Abbott by one vote in another leadership vote in December 2009. Turnbull has served as a shadow minister in the Abbott-led opposition for the last parliamentary term.


  • Diane Smith (Labor)
  • Marsha Foxman (Palmer United Party)
  • Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal)
  • Beresford Thomas (Christian Democratic Party)
  • Pat Sheil (Independent)
  • Matthew Robertson (Greens)

Wentworth is a safe Liberal seat.

2010 result

Malcolm TurnbullLIB51,63459.57+9.20
Steven LewisALP18,26521.07-9.41
Matthew RobertsonGRN15,11417.44+2.48
Pat SheilIND5150.59+0.29
Malcolm DuncanIND4840.56+0.56
Stuart NeilCA3890.45+0.45
John AugustSEC2750.32+0.32

2010 two-candidate-preferred result

Malcolm TurnbullLIB56,21964.86+11.01
Steven LewisALP30,45735.14-11.01


Polling places in Wentworth at the 2010 federal election. Bondi in red, Bondi Junction in purple, Clovelly in yellow, Paddington in blue, Sydney in orange, Vaucluse in green. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Wentworth at the 2010 federal election. Bondi in red, Bondi Junction in purple, Clovelly in yellow, Paddington in blue, Sydney in orange, Vaucluse in green. Click to enlarge.

Booth breakdown
Wentworth has been divided into six areas. The Liberal Party won a majority in five out of six areas, ranging from 55% in Clovelly to 79.5% in Vaucluse. The ALP won a 51.2% in those booths in the City of Sydney.

The Greens candidate came third. The Greens vote varied from just under 10% in Vaucluse to 26.5% in Sydney.

Voter groupGRN %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Bondi Junction15.4767.399,22310.64
Other votes16.3167.4924,95128.79
Two-party-preferred votes in Wentworth at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Wentworth at the 2010 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Wentworth at the 2010 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Wentworth at the 2010 federal election.


  1. That 89% Liberal booth (Watsons Bay?) would have to be the best urban Liberal booth in the country wouldn’t it?

  2. Ben Raue DB or others
    Wentworth will be facinating in the next NSW Fed redistribution. 2016 i would reckon. Those legends at the AEC will need to work out where to put 15000+ voters over quota. The impact on neighbouring (overquota) Sydney, OR Kingsford-Smith will be crucial (in subsequent elections). The ripple effects will be progressively more pronounced as they spread.
    WRT Sydney there would be an influx of 15000 predominantly Green, & Liberal voters, accompanied by an outflow of perhaps 20000 predominantly ALP voters.
    If they push them south into K-S then virtually the whole of Botany LGA will likely end up in Grayndler !!!. And so on. It all starts with Wentworth, there will only be a few fulcrums , this will definitely be one.

  3. I think that regardless of where the 15,000 are cut from, it’ll make this seat safer for Turnbull and make the neighbouring seat more marginal for Labor. If they cut Woolloomooloo and added it to Sydney, well then some of the best Labor and Greens areas in Wentworth are cut, but even stronger areas would have to be cut and added to Grayndler.

    But if they cut some of the area within Randwick LGA and put them into Kingsford Smith, then KS will have to cut at least the western sections of the Botany LGA, which definately makes it an easier target for the Liberal party.

  4. Macca – BNE
    Turnbull does not have anything to worry about regardless. He is absolutely unassailable already. It is more than likely the Greens will poll 2nd here.
    Perhaps the dimensions of what we are talking are unclear.
    We are not talking just Woolloomooloo, but rather the whole of Sydney LGA (WITHIN Wentworth).That is around 8-9000 Green, & Lib voters. If the section of Leichardt LGA goes to Grayndler, then the nett effect on Sydney will be moderate. However if the southern section of the electorate(of Sydney) is transferred the Greens will easily attain the 3500 votes they need to outpoll the Libs, gain their preferences, & take the seat (of Sydney). Note the Greens got halfway in 2010.
    Eventually Labor will lose Sydney to the Greens, or progressive independent ala Wilkie
    Likewise if the transfer is south , that will mean all parts of Randwick LGA , AND about 8000 voters from Waverley LGA to Kingsford- Smith. It is hard to see how any of Botany LGA could remain in Kingsford- Smith in this event. This would mean a nett swing to the Libs by as much as 5% .
    The AEC state that they desire to keep whole LGAs in single electorates. So we will see.

  5. this seat includes a 11% swing in a 14% margin…….obviously for what ever reason Mr Turnbull did very well. this I think an inflated margin.. logic says this seats boundaries start with the wealthy suburbs and then extend in the case of a redistribution

  6. I do wish people would stop calling Wentworth and wealthy seat. More of us who live there aren’t wealthy.

  7. Maybe some people in Wentworth aren’t wealthy, Shirl, but it’s a definitive fact that overall as an electorate Wentworth is one of the wealthiest in the country.

    Check out this table by Peter Brent of electorates ranked by the 2011 census median household weekly income: http://mumble.com.au/fedelect13/wall/censustables/MEDINC.HTM

    Wentworth is ranked fifth with $2020 per week – compared to $1733 in Sydney, $1496 in Kingsford Smith, and $823 in Cowper.

  8. @Ben,

    There is a huge difference between wealth and income. High income does not equate to wealth. But it does seem politicians/journalists/blog site organizers often use wealth and income interchangeably which is absolutely wrong. Example, a person who owns a $10m house on Point Piper and has no debt and $1m in the bank is wealthy. But their income will be around $40k per year given interest rates at the moment (and probably pays no tax) so they are low income earners. In contrast, a person earning $180k per year has a high income. However, they have not wealthy as they have no assets. And would pay a lot of tax and have to pay rent etc so their free cash is pretty limited.

    Of course there are people who are both wealthy and have high incomes but just because one is wealthy doesn’t mean they have a high income and vica versa.

    A number of farmers in Cowper may have low incomes but own farms that are very valuable etc. Therefore they are wealthy but income poor.

    Given the above, I think Shirl has a valid point to say that there are a lot of people in Wentworth who are not wealthy.

    BTW – I consider the sitting member to be both wealthy and have a high income.

  9. I understand the difference between wealth and income – but they are related, and I don’t know how you can argue that Wentworth isn’t towards the top of the list in terms of wealthy electorates.

    Of course every electorate is diverse, but Wentworth has a lot less poor people than plenty of other electorates.

  10. @Ben,

    I am trying to say that while there may be wealthy people and people with high incomes (and people with both high incomes and wealth) the use of income as measure of wealth is not correct. The highest earning income postcode in Australia I believe is somewhere in the Pilbra. These miners are not wealthy but have high income. Wentworth has more pockets of high income earners and wealthy people who distort the average. The 300 voters of Parcely Bay described as “89% that’s Parcely Bay, fortunatly only 300, very homogenous, silver spoons vote there.” will distort the average.

    I also recognise that there is a correlation between income and liberal seats. But I have an issue stereotyping high income earners as high wealth. My sense is that there is a misconception about the level of wealth in the seat of Wentworth. Yes there are very rich people but there are alot more people who are not as rich and there are many people who earn good money but once the rent is paid don’t have as much “free” cash as people on lower incomes in seats where the rent is lower.

    My point is that I think Shirl has a good point.

  11. Pollster – median income isn’t influenced much by “pockets of high income earners and wealthy people”. In order for median income to reflect the high income earners, they would have to represent more than 50% of the electorate.

    You seem to be confusing it with mean income, where one person with an income of $100 million and 10,000 with an income of $10,000 each will end up with a mean income of $19,998. If you have 501 people who earn $10,000 each and 500 people who earn $500,000 each, the median income will still be $10,000.

  12. Glen, good point re mean and median, I had got the two confused. The example of you give of “501 people who earn $10,000 each and 500 people who earn $500,000 each, the median income will still be $10,000” is what I was thinking.

  13. @Pollster, the individual statements you make are true to varying degrees but it’s ridiculous to deny that Wentworth is one of the wealthiest electorates in the country. Sure, there are some poor people but every electorate has poor people and Wentworth has much smaller proportions.

    As another example: the SEIFA – Socio-Economic Indexes for Australia. I can’t find an index based on electorate, but there is an index for local government areas. Woollahra and Waverley, which are both contained entirely in Wentworth, are ranked 8th and 21st out of 564 local government areas across the country. Randwick and Sydney are ranked 48th and 61st, which are also very high.

  14. Re: redistribution talk from last month: If Wentworth and Sydney are currently over quota, they’ll largely be left alone, as NSW will probably lose a seat and so the quotas will get larger. It’ll be central / western Sydney seats that aren’t growing so much where the major surgery happens, as they’ll need to expand to cover the abolished seat.

    Is there any seat that’s particularly likely to be abolished? The last two to go were Gwydir (regional NSW) in 2007, and Lowe / Reid (inner western Sydney) in 2010. Before that, when NSW lost a seat in 1993 the AEC actually abolished three seats (Dundas, Philip, St George) and created two new ones (Paterson and Watson), in what I’m guessing was a major carve-up all over the state.

  15. Turnbull shows why most would prefer him as PM when he gracefully & skillfully apologies for a staffers faux pas:
    ABC News-
    “Malcolm Turnbull says he “regrets” the actions of a staffer who sent an email to a tech blogger inviting him to “get f….d”.

    The email was sent to Steve Jenkin, whose blog has been critical of the Coalition’s broadband plans.

    This afternoon Mr Turnbull tweeted this statement: “Regret my staffer’s lapse into vulgar anglo-saxon in an email to a blogger. Charm remediation has been administered & equanimity restored.” “

  16. Thanks. As I said in my post today, I won’t be making any more changes to the candidate list until Friday. Feel free to post links/names, but don’t expect me to update them.

  17. Hi Ben, I am a late candidate in the Wentworth Division for the Katter’s Australia Party for some further information about our main policy ideas or if you would like a photo and some more information about my own personal ideas for wentworth, please email me and i will be happy to send it along 🙂

  18. If Pat Shiel doesn’t romp this I for one will be both very disappointed and hugely saddened. Shiel (an Adonis of a man with a gargantuan intellect) is obviously the best qualified for the job of both local member and … well …. prime minister IMHO. Who in their right mind wouldn’t wash aside the other (lesser) parties and all their babble on economics, refugees and taxes to vote for a man that promises ‘a keg on each corner’.

Comments are closed.