Heffron by-election, 2012

August 25, 2012

Cause of by-election
Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally announced on 23 June 2012 that she will be resigning as Member for Heffron in coming days to take up a new job as chief executive of Basketball Australia. Read the profile for the seat of Heffron at the 2011 state election.

Margin – ALP 7.1%

Incumbent MP
Kristina Keneally, 2003-2012.

Inner south of Sydney. Heffron covers southern parts of the City of Sydney, as well as northern parts of the City of Botany Bay. Heffron also covers those parts of Marrickville Council to the east of the Illawarra railway line, and small parts of Randwick Council. Key suburbs include Redfern, Waterloo, Eveleigh, Alexandria, Zetland, Beaconsfield, Kensington, Rosebery, Eastlakes, Mascot, St  Peters and Tempe.


The district of Heffron has existed since 1973. It has always been held by the ALP.

The seat was first won in 1973 by Laurie Brereton. He had previously held the seat of Randwick for one year. He won it in a 1970 by-election following the election of the previous member Lionel Bowen to the federal seat of Kingsford Smith in 1969. Randwick was abolished at the 1971 election.

Brereton served as a minister in the Labor state government from 1981 to 1987, and held Heffron until 1990, when he resigned to contest Kingsford Smith. He served as a minister in the Labor federal government from 1993 to 1996 and a shadow minister from 1996 to 2001. He retired from Kingsford Smith in 2004.

Brereton was replaced at the 1990 Heffron by-election by his sister Deirdre Grusovin, who had been a member of the Legislative Council since 1978. She had served as a minister from 1986 to 1988.

Grusovin held Heffron at the 1991, 1995 and 1999 elections. In 2003 she lost a bitter preselection contest against Kristina Keneally.

Keneally won a second term in Heffron in 2007. Following the 2007 election she was appointed as a minister. In 2009, the ALP caucus elected her as Labor leader, and she succeeded Nathan Rees as Premier of NSW.

Keneally led the ALP into the 2011 state election, where the party was reduced to only 20 seats, after holding over 50 prior to the election.

In June 2012, Keneally announced her resignation to take up a new position with Basketball Australia.

The ALP is running Mayor of Botany Bay Ron Hoenig. The Greens are running Mehreen Faruqi, who ran for the Greens in the seat in 2011 and came third in the Greens’ recent NSW Senate preselection.

Political situation
Heffron was traditionally considered very safe for the ALP. Heffron covers a number of very strong Labor areas, including South Sydney, Mascot and the eastern parts of Marrickville LGA. The seat is very weak for the Liberal Party, but it has some very strong areas for the Greens, particularly around St Peters, Erskineville and the northern end of the electorate. At the 2011 election, the Liberal Party gained a large swing (as they did across New South Wales) while the Greens vote largely stayed still (again, reflecting statewide trends).

It is unclear whether the Liberal Party will stand. If they decide not to run, the race will likely be between the ALP and the Greens. It seems unlikely that the Liberal Party could gain more than their big swing in the seat in 2011.

This seat isn’t quite as strong for the Greens as their heartland seats of Sydney, Marrickville and Balmain, but does include a number of booths where the Greens came in the top two and some where the Greens topped the primary vote.

2011 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Kristina Keneally ALP 18,870 41.2 -15.2
Patrice Pandeleos LIB 15,226 33.3 +11.5
Mehreen Faruqi GRN 8,681 19.0 -0.7
John Forster IND 1,865 4.1 +4.1
Katalin Ferrier CDP 871 1.9 +1.9
Trevor Rowe IND 254 0.6 +0.6

2011 two-candidate-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Kristina Keneally ALP 22,299 57.1 -16.6
Patrice Pandeleos LIB 16,780 42.9 +16.6

Booth breakdown
Booths in Heffron have been divided into four areas. Mascot covers those booths in Botany Bay Council. Kensington-Rosebery covers those in Randwick Council and the southern end of the City of Sydney. Redfern-Waterloo covers those booths at the northern end of the seat. The booths in Newtown, Erskineville and in Marrickville Council have been grouped as ‘West’.

The ALP won a two-party-preferred majority of over 60% in three of the areas: Mascot, Redfern-Waterloo and the West. The Liberal Party won 53% of the 2PP vote in Kensington-Rosebery.

The Greens polled very highly in the West (32.9%) and Redfern-Waterloo (26.9%). In the west of the seat the Greens outpolled the Liberal Party, and in two booths also overtook the ALP.


Polling booths in Heffron at the 2011 state election. Redfern-Waterloo in yellow, Kensington-Rosebery in blue, Mascot in orange, West in green.
Voter group GRN % ALP 2CP % Total votes % of votes
Mascot 8.6 62.6 10,057 22.0
Kensington-Rosebery 13.9 47.0 9,843 21.5
Redfern-Waterloo 26.9 60.5 7,485 16.4
West 32.9 65.5 5,086 11.1
Other votes 20.8 55.5 13,296 29.1
Two-party-preferred votes in Heffron at the 2011 state election.
Greens primary votes in Heffron at the 2011 state election.
Polling booths in Heffron at the 2011 state election, showing which out of the Liberal Party and the Greens won more votes in each booth.


  1. Having worked inner city booths for the LPA, I’d say the Green vote is much lower here, and much more focussed on ethnicity than in other inner suburban areas. The seat is more like a “traditional” inner city seat – large areas of deprivation and low income workers than, say, the gentrified areas like Marrickville, Balmain or northern Sydney. I can’t see the Greens lifting their vote much. The Lib vote largely seemed to come from ex Labour supporters – this could still rise with the loss of a high profile local candidate, although the odds are (unfortunately) Lib CHQ will consider this a hiding to nothing.

  2. Any news of a strong independent candidate? The O’Farrell government is polling rather well (the ALP would only gain 3 of the Coalition’s 69 seats on a uniform swing, this is based on the most recent Newspoll), so a strong independent could be in with a chance here.

Comments are closed.