Cook by-election, 2024

Cause of by-election
Sitting Liberal MP Scott Morrison has flagged that he will resign his seat at the end of February.

Margin – LIB 12.4%

Southern Sydney, Cook covers parts of the Sutherland Shire and the St George area. Suburbs in Sutherland include Cronulla, Sylvania, Miranda, Gymea, Caringbah and Taren Point. Suburbs in the St George area include Sans Souci, Ramsgate, Sandringham, Monterey, Beverley Park, Kogarah Bay, Kyle Bay and Blakehurst.


Cook was first created for the 1969 election. The suburbs around the current seat of Cook were first included in the seat of Illawarra from federation until the 1922 election, when it was transferred to Werriwa, when Werriwa was a large rural seat covering areas south of Sydney. The seat of Hughes was created in 1955, which was the first seat based in Sutherland. Cook was then created in 1969. This used the same name as an earlier seat based in inner Sydney, which had been a safe Labor seat before its abolition in 1955.

For the previous sixty years the seat covering Sutherland had been mostly held by the Labor Party, although Hughes was lost to Liberal candidate Don Dobie in 1966, and Cook has been held by the Liberals for most of its existence.

Dobie transferred to Cook in 1969, but was defeated by Labor’s Ray Thorburn in 1972. Thorburn was defeated by Dobie in 1975 and Dobie held the seat until his retirement in 1996.

Dobie was succeeded by Stephen Mutch, a member of the NSW upper house, in 1996, and Mutch was defeated for preselection by Bruce Baird in 1998. Baird had previously been a state MP and Minister for Transport from 1988 to 1995, as well as taking charge of Sydney’s Olympic big up to 1993.

Baird held the seat for nine years, during which time he developed a reputation as an independent-minded Liberal backbencher who was occasionally critical of the Howard government.

Baird announced his retirement at the 2007 election, and the Liberal preselection was originally won by Michael Towke. Towke’s preselection was overturned amid allegations of branch stacking in a controversial contest, and he was replaced by the former director of the NSW Liberal Party, Scott Morrison.

Morrison won the seat in 2007, and was re-elected five times. Morrison served as a senior minister in the coalition government from 2013 until he became Prime Minister in 2018. He then led the government to victory at the 2019 election.

Morrison continued to serve as Prime Minister until his government’s defeat the 2022 federal election.


  • Vinay Kolhatkar (Libertarian)
  • Natasha Brown (Animal Justice)
  • Roger Woodward (Independent)
  • Martin Moore (Greens)
  • Simon Kennedy (Liberal)
  • Simone Francis Gagatam (Sustainable Australia)

The Liberal Party should retain this seat at the by-election.

2022 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Scott Morrison Liberal 54,322 55.5 -8.2
Simon Earle Labor 24,444 25.0 +1.9
Catherine Dyson Greens 9,685 9.9 +3.1
Gaye Cameron One Nation 4,985 5.1 +1.6
Jacqueline Guinane United Australia 4,381 4.5 +3.3
Informal 4,498 4.4 FALSE

2022 two-party-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Scott Morrison Liberal 61,080 62.4 -6.6
Simon Earle Labor 36,737 37.6 +6.6

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into five parts named after key suburbs. All of the booths in the St George area have been grouped as “Sans Souci”. Those in the Sutherland Shire have been split between Sylvania in the north, Cronulla in the east, Gymea-Miranda in the south-west and Caringbah in the centre.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all five areas, ranging from 60.1% in Sans Souci to 68.2% in Sylvania.

The Greens came third, with a primary vote ranging from 10.9% in the south to 17.3% in the north-east.

Voter group GRN prim % LIB 2PP % Total votes % of votes
Sans Souci 7.8 60.1 14,956 15.3
Gymea-Miranda 10.8 60.9 11,260 11.5
Caringbah 10.9 65.6 10,562 10.8
Cronulla 13.2 62.0 10,139 10.4
Sylvania 6.5 68.2 6,059 6.2
Pre-poll 9.5 62.7 31,673 32.4
Other votes 10.6 61.1 13,168 13.5

Election results in Cook at the 2022 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal Party, Labor and the Greens.

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  1. Simon Earle seems personally keen to run, he has a grassroots following. and Labor would be able to recycle materials from the 2022 election. I think Labor should run despite it being quite futile.

    If Labor chooses not to field a candidate Simon Earle would be able get a decent showing running as an independent.

  2. @ John you will still need to print HTV Cards. They Can re-use corflutes. However, this is not Aston and is a much harder seat to win. Even if Labor manages to win i doubt they would be able to hold it at a general election. I would say it is better to save every cent for 2025 to use in neighbouring Banks.

  3. I think if Albo is saying that Labor still haven’t decided, then they might actually run.

    A significant portion of the electorate will probably be in a notionally Labor electorate after the re-distribution (assuming the Committee wants to undo the crossing of the Georges’s River) and I don’t think they will want the punters in that part of the seat to think Labor does not care about them – it’s a damaging view for the public to hold regarding a political party.

    If Dunkley had been close or a loss, then I don’t think it would happen. Morrison had an 8% swing against him last time and although some of that went to UAP and ON, some came to Labor on preferences for a 6.6% swing. So perhaps there is an underlying current of discontent agaist the right that can be fermented.

    Despite him being a blow in himself (and Bruce Baird before him!) Morrison had built up a personal vote on account of being the PM – the people of Cook had never had a senior Minister as MP and I think that has helped move this seat so far in Liberal direction, especially vs other coastal Sydney seats. With that factor now gone, and yet another blow in preselected, and yet another bloke, the protest vote against the Liberal’s might offset the expected by election protest vote against the Government.

    It would also be a statement of intent from Labor that they intend to compete in a wide range of seat at the next federal election and not just defend held marginals.

  4. Labor ran in Fadden and failed, as expected. And the same would happen here. But it’s still odd that they aren’t running in Cook, however I can see why they’re hesitant.

  5. I’m a (now fairly inactive) Liberal Member. Simon Kennedy is a bit of an idiot who is just very good at winning over naive boomer Liberal preselectors. I’ve been told that apparently he sent out tablets to preselectors before the 2022 Bennelong Preselection, with a video message pitching his candidacy pre-loaded onto the tablet. He won that preselection against a far more qualified woman, the now North Sydney Liberal candidate Gisele Kapterian.

    He was a very inept campaigner during the 2022 election, and it’s telling that John Howard who provided assistance in the campaign for his old seat had endorsed another candidate in the Cook preselection. It is correct to say that backlash against the Liberals from Chinese-Australian voters was what caused the swing large enough for Labor to win Bennelong, however as the final margin was so close, I’m strongly of the view that a better candidate would have still been able to hold on to what is usually a decent Liberal seat.

    He will obviously win Cook due to it being very safe. Another waste of a safe seat.

    Given the above, personally I think Labor would be crazy not to run in the by-election. Say what you want about Scomo, but he obviously had high name recognition and despite his unpopularity throughout the country the Liberal vote in the seat held up a lot better than in other seats, suggesting he still retained a strong personal vote in the seat. The loss of the Scomo personal vote plus an underwhelming Liberal candidate I think is likely to mean that the Liberals’ performance in holding the seat at the by-election will be poor.

    Can you imagine the pressure it will get off Labor and back onto Dutton and the Liberals if there is a swing to the government in a by-election, or only a very small swing to the Liberals against the incumbent government? Surely it is worth Labor running a candidate just for the possibility of a few days of media coverage and the resulting pressure on Dutton and the Liberals if they perform badly in the by-election (which I expect will occur). Another own goal by the Liberals.

  6. @high street i would argur it would be marginal even possibly notionally liberal given the areas of cook and banks are strong liberal vote

  7. @ John, i was responding to the other John to say that i dont think it is worthwhile for Labor to run for the seat of Cook.

  8. Doesn’t the site have a rule about using nicknames used by other frequent editors? I mean two Johns is a bit confusing (to be fair the John with a lowercase j seems more active but still).

    Anyway, @High Street, there a “notionally Labor seat” would not take in much of Cook. Indeed, Barton (a safe Labor seat to the north of Cook) would likely take in the rest of Kogarah. However NSW is set to lose a seat and it will likely be in Sydney. On my boundaries a new seat would be created in the Hawkesbury which would mean Sydney would have to lose two seats (I didn’t get time to do much of Sydney but I feel like a lot of contributors here have been mostly focusing on Sydney in their proposals so I decided to focus on regional and rural areas as well as Newcastle, the Central Coast and Wollongong).

  9. @npbthere is clear difference in our names and content post, and the wording we use. Agreed I have abolished 3 and made 2 in western Sydney. I abolished Barton in central Sydney and divided between banks Watson garyndler and KS. Also moving cook south and banks taking the majority of the formers territory. Whilst moving the name to grayndler as it the least relevant of the 4. Ideally I would have abolished grayndler but given its the PM’s division that’s not happening.

  10. I do agree with some earlier comments that Labor should at least run. Any part north of the Georges River could be redistributed to Banks or Barton, as both seats and even Cook are all under-quota. It will look bad should they appear to be a party that has overlooked them and has refused to give the voters a choice. Banks is a marginal seat that Labor would like to win.

    They may test the waters north of the Georges River to see if they can be competitive in Banks and rebuild their base in the Bayside (Monterey to Sans Souci and Sandringham). Much of it is now strongly Liberal. At the state level, the bayside suburb are solidly Labor.

  11. @np lindabufney is being touted as the next GG I expect as compensation for losing for losing her seat she’s 68 and about ready to retire yea I wanted too since the shape of thatdivision is becoming unsustainable but went with Barton bc of albo. The aec might just do it though I mean they abolished Gwydir the division of the deputy pm

  12. Nether… Fadden was never
    Going to shift. Mr Robert despite his “problems” was untroubled holding the seat
    In Cook for reasons I don’t fully understand was very popular in Cook ….. in a normal contest I would expect the libs to win by say 11%.. an indication is to look at the state election figures for Kogarah, Rochdale and Miranda where they overlap with Cook

  13. @mick a new state poll in nsw has the libs above Labor though I reckon minns would be campaigning fr Labor to boost the vote

  14. The Liberals spent over half a million in Fadden and campaigned as if it were a marginal seat, possibly as an overreaction to the Aston by-election loss and to save face or redeem themselves. I wouldn’t say Fadden was a failure for Labor. They just ran dead.

    I think for Labor, Cook is more worth fighting for because of reasons given in other posts. Only the Carss Park part of Cook is in Minns’s electorate. He may have the drawpower and may campaign. Labor overperformed in Kogarah, Rockdale and Miranda at the last state election but it’s unlikely this overperformance would be carried over to the Cook by-election.

    ON and UAP got a total of 9.6% in 2022. UAP is deregistered. If ON then it’s probable that the Liberals will suck up most of their voters, like how the Liberals got a primary swing in Dunkley off the back of the absence of ON and UAP.

  15. If, as expected, the ALP does not run in the Cook by-election it will mark the first time that they did not contest a seat held by their opponents in a by-election since the 2015 North Sydney by-election.

  16. Labor should allow someone to run but not give them any resources if they don’t wish to. If someone wants to pay under their own pocket under the Labor banner why can’t this be allowed? Labor doesn’t need a vetting process if someone voulenteers to run.

    I encourage the people of Cook NOT to vote if there is not a democratic choice of both major parties. But when I say not vote, I mean show up to the polling booth and get your named crossed off but don’t mark the ballot.

    Both majors should run in every by-election to give voters a chance. Labor should just run dead here. The more and more Albo does this, the less and less likely I will vote for his party at the next election.

  17. There’s no benefit in Labor running. If they put a lot of resources in, they may win a small swing but there will be no tangible benefit. They’re never going to win the seat. If they put no resources in, they will likely suffer a small swing and all the newspapers and commentary will heap more pressure on Albanese and the Government.

  18. I’m guessing the Liberals will get a primary vote and 2PP swing to them, even if Labor does run. Here’s why I think so:

    1. The anti-Morrison factor likely played a part in 2022. Those who protested against Liberal or Morrison believe that they have gotten their job done. This factor is now gone.
    2. Absence of UAP and maybe even One Nation. It’s similar to how the Liberals got a swing in Dunkley off the back of the absence of UAP and ON. Those who voted UAP or ON because of their stance on Covid vaccines may be willing to vote for Simon Kennedy given his stance on lockdowns and vaccines.
    3. The general anti-government swing at by-elections. Voters can use the by-election as a protest. It could be more of a referendum on Albanese than a presidential-style contest which is more of the case at general elections.

    The Liberals may lose votes if there’s a wild card independent or 10 or 15 candidates running and splitting the vote.

  19. Given Morrison ‘s personal vote which is now gone…all things being equal I would not be surprised if there was a swing against the liberals

  20. Antony Green reporting 6 candidates. No Labor candidate.

    By Party, in ballot paper order – Libertarian, Animal Justice Party, Independent, Australian Greens, Liberal Party, Sustainable Australia.

  21. @john their will be 6 candidates in total according to the ABC website. Libertarian party, Animal justice, greens, sustainable australia, an independant and of course the liberals.

  22. Simon Earle isn’t running despite frequently posting on social media including ample criticism of Simon Kennedy for being a blow in. I think it’s a poor reflection on him, Labor, or both that he’s not running (as either Labor or an independent).

    This will be a low turnout coronatipn. Greens have a candidate that even the Sutherland Shire Greens haven’t mentioned.

  23. Low turnout for sure. The run up to the election clashes with the Easter long weekend and the start of school holidays. The Liberal candidate is a shoo in. Nobody will bother campaigning and reminding voters there’s a by-election.

  24. Animal Justice and Sustainable Australia will preference Greens 100% in my experience and if the Indie ia a Labor Ringer, then it’s variation of the Brisbane Lord Mayoralty race, Labor trying to throw it to The Greens, but by not running a candidate.
    Why the Liberals would run a blow in in a Seat like that is mindblowing.
    My best guess is they’re trying to sabotage Dutton’s Leadership.
    Losing Cook would be the end of the road, imo.

  25. short of commiting murder simon kennedy is a shoe in. hence why labor isnt bothering. tbh i suspect labor is planning on going to an early election to avoid an unfavourable redistribution hence they arent bothering with the resources

  26. John – Between the redistributions and other state and local elections, when do you suggest the timing of said early election to be?

    First possible Fed. – 3rd August 2024
    NT – 24th August
    NSW Local – 14th September
    Final determination of WA redistribution – 24th September (indicative)
    Final determination of NSW redistribution – 10th October (indicative)
    Final determination of VIC redistribution – 17th October (indicative)
    ACT – 18th October
    QLD – 26th October
    Final determination of NT redistribution – 4th March 2025 (indicative)
    WA State – 8th March
    Last possible Fed. – mid-May 2025

    If an election was held before the redistibutions were finalised there would be related mini-redistributions with “new” seats of Warringah-Wentworth (NSW), Chisholm-Higgins (VIC), Cowan (WA), Cowan-Perth (WA) and Perth (WA). I think that’s the structure.

  27. We know that Simon Kennedy contested Bennelong in the 2022 Federal Election but I am sure another candidate is having a crack too. I’m referring to Roger Woodward (IND), who, if I’m not mistaken, was an Independent Candidate in the seat of Berowra at the 2022 Federal Election. I’d be interested if anyone can confirm this as online searches have been inconclusive.

  28. With no candidate then around 25,000 Labor folk are abandoned with many expected to park their #1 vote not necessarily with the Green or the Lib but amongst the others in spite of their better judgement. The liberally sounding libertarian is spruking a lot of what the Lib’s would like to say but cannot.

  29. Almost no chance the Liberals will lose. Cook is a very safe Liberal seat, and Labor has only won it once, when Gough Whitlam took government in ’72. I am expecting of all things, a primary vote and 2PP swing to Liberals.

    ScoMo was very controversial in his full term as PM (2019-2022). He had the stuff-ups with vaccines, secret ministries, bushfires and treatment of women, so he did get a swing against him but he still won all booths within Cook (not including Carlton South – ALP 56%, which was a joint booth with Barton). I think with him gone, and Labor not fielding a candidate, there should be a Liberal primary vote around 55-60%. The Liberals are arguably in a much better position federally than 2022.

    I did hear the ‘schoolyard talk’ of a teal running. No teal indicated, and even then it would be hard as Cook is a very retiree population, not the young demographic on the North Shore which helped the teals win. Ever since 2022 teals have struggled to make momentum, especially in the state seats which overlap with the North Shore, Goldstein and Kooyong. The fact how Wollondilly was a gain was a little bit surprising but a teal did poll well in Hume in 2022 so maybe less surprising.

    The Greens will certainly make 2PP, but they would only win if their primary vote jumps significantly to the point where it would be unexpected and alarming for the Liberals. They do well around Cronulla and the little peninsulas in the south, but they can’t make inroads. Logically most Labor voters would go for Greens but there would be many who only voted Labor to get ScoMo’s margin down. I think most Labor voters in 2022 would actually go for Liberal as the huge shift was due to the anti-Morrison sentiment.

    So in all, that’s my two cents on this by-election. Good luck to all candidates, and hopefully Simon Kennedy is successful at his second attempt.


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