Sydney – NSW 2011

IND 16.6% vs ALP

Incumbent MP
Clover Moore, since 2007. Previously Member for Bligh 1988-2007.

Central Sydney. The seat of Sydney mainly covers parts of the City of Sydney, as well as parts of the neighbouring Woollahra and Randwick local government areas. It covers the Sydney CBD and the suburbs of Pyrmont, Ultimo, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Potts Point, Woolloomooloo, Paddington and Woollahra.

The current electoral district of Sydney was only created in 2007, replacing the abolished seat of Bligh.

The original Legislative Assembly had four members elected representing the City of Sydney. In 1859 the seat was split into the two districts of East Sydney and West Sydney. Each district elected four members, and were the most prestigious districts in the colony. Leading political figures would contest these seats, and if they failed to win them, they would then move on to another district, as elections were not all held on the same day.

The 1894 election was the first where all MLAs were elected in single-member districts. The former multi-member districts of South Sydney, East Sydney and West Sydney were broken up into ten districts, all of which had “Sydney” in their name, along with the name of a significant figure in early NSW (Bligh, Phillip, Cook, Gipps, Lang, Flinders, Fitzroy, Denison).

From 1904, the word “Sydney” was dropped, but there continued to be numerous seats in the area now covered by Sydney. The 1904 seats included Pyrmont, Darling Harbour, Surry Hills, Belmore, Darlinghurst, Paddington and King (which covered the CBD itself).

Throughout this period, most of these seats reliably elected Labor candidates. In 1920, the multi-member district of Sydney was created, covering a similar area as the current seat, stretching from Pyrmont/Ultimo to Paddington. The seat elected a majority of Labor MPs for all three elections, but it was abolished in 1927, being replaced by a number of inner-city seats.

By the 1970s, the area only included three seats. The seat of King covered the CBD and stretched west to cover Glebe and Newtown. The seat of Phillip stretched from Surry Hills to Rosebery. The seat of Bligh covered Paddington and Kings Cross.

The 1973 election reduced the number of seats to two. King was abolished, and Phillip moved up to cover Redfern, Glebe, Ultimo and the city centre.

For the 1981, election, Phillip was renamed Elizabeth, and Bligh shifted closer to the city centre. The new boundaries saw the ALP’s Fred Miller win Bligh. He only held it for one term, losing in 1984 to the Liberal Party’s Michael Yabsley.

In 1988, Yabsley was challenged in Bligh by City of Sydney councillor Clover Moore. She had been elected to South Sydney Council in 1980. The council was merged with the City of Sydney in 1981, and she was elected to the new council. Moore was the favourite to win the next Lord Mayoral election when the ALP state government sacked the City of Sydney council in 1987. She then decided to run for the seat of Bligh as an independent, and defeated the sitting member Yabsley.

Not long after the 1988 election, Liberal Member for Vaucluse Ray Aston died, and Yabsley won his seat at the following by-election. He immediately became a minister in the Coalition government. He moved to the backbench in 1992 and resigned in 1994.

Meanwhile, in 1988 the seat covering the CBD and western parts of the City of Sydney was again renamed as McKell. This seat, whatever the name, had been held by the ALP continuously for decades. The seat of Phillip had been won in 1954 by Lord Mayor of Sydney Pat Hills. He became a minister in 1959, and Deputy Premier in 1964. He served as Leader of the Opposition from 1968 until 1973, when he was succeeded by Neville Wran. When Phillip was renamed Elizabeth in 1981 he won the new seat, and retired in 1988.

The again-renamed seat of McKell was won by Sandra Nori, also of the ALP. In 1991, McKell was merged with Balmain to form the new seat of Port Jackson, which stretched from Leichhardt and Balmain to Potts Point and Woolloomooloo. Nori held the seat from 1991 until her retirement in 2007. She served as a minister from 1999 to 2007.

Clover Moore continued to win Bligh throughout the 1990s. In the 1991 parliament she was a number of independent MPs to support the Coalition government in minority. She won re-election in 1991, 1995, 1999 and 2003.

In 2004, the ALP state government merged the City of Sydney and the City of South Sydney together just before the local government elections, much as they had done 23 years earlier. The ALP expected that strong Labor-voting areas in South Sydney would allow Labor to gain control of Sydney Town Hall, and ran former federal minister Michael Lee. Clover Moore ran for Lord Mayor and won a solid victory, with a number of her supporters elected to the City of Sydney council. She won re-election in 2008.

The 2007 redistribution redrew the central Sydney electorates substantially. Port Jackson was split between the seat of Balmain, which covered everything west of Glebe, and the seat of Sydney. Sydney covers the city centre and much of Moore’s former seat of Bligh. Cr Moore moved to the new seat, and won re-election for a sixth term in the Legislative Assembly with relative ease.


Political situation
Clover Moore’s hold on the seat of Sydney is very solid. The more interesting contest may be for second place. In 2007, the Liberal Party came second on primary votes, but the ALP overtook them on preferences to come second at the end of the count. In the current climate, the ALP will struggle to maintain this position, and will likely lose votes in all directions. The Greens should also perform more strongly, both due to the ALP’s collapse, and because Clover Moore’s popularity has weakened after seven years in power. This seat is very strong for the Greens in the Legislative Council, and they will be looking to challenge Moore’s hold on the seat.

2007 result

Clover MooreIND16,31639.6+7.2
Edward MandiaLIB8,87721.6+1.0
Linda ScottALP8,23520.0-6.7
Chris HarrisGRN6,40715.6+0.3
Malcolm DuncanIND7351.8+1.3
Imanuel ChoyceUNI6141.5+1.1

2007 two-candidate-preferred result

Clover MooreIND20,36466.6+1.6
Linda ScottALP10,19333.4-1.6

Booth breakdown
Booths in Sydney have been divided into four areas. Most booths lie in the east of the seat, around one of three suburbs: Surry Hills, Darlinghurst or Paddington. Booths have been divided into these three areas. The remainder of the seat, including the CBD, Pyrmont and Ultimo, has been grouped as “Sydney”.

Independent Clover Moore came first in all areas. Her best results came in Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, with over 45%. She polled just under 40% in Paddington and just under 35% in Sydney. The Liberal Party polled almost 30% in Paddington. The worst Liberal result was 11.7% in Surry Hills. The ALP’s best result was 25% in Sydney, and the worst was 15% in Paddington. The Greens vote peaked at 17.2% in Surry Hills.


Polling booths in Sydney at the 2007 state election. Sydney in yellow, Darlinghurst in green, Surry Hills in blue, Paddington in orange.


Voter groupIND %LIB %ALP %GRN %Total votes% of votes
Surry Hills46.811.721.717.25,79914.1
Other votes34.924.520.216.410,07524.5
Primary votes for independent Clover Moore in Sydney at the 2007 state election.
Liberal primary votes in Sydney at the 2007 state election.
Labor primary votes in Sydney at the 2007 state election.
Greens primary votes in Sydney at the 2007 state election.


  1. Clover’s safe – is there really a big issue to turf her out? Yes the bike issue could hurt, but it’s hard to see that having a massive impact.

    Of course, I live in Balmain rather than Sydney, but I highly doubt she’s unpopular, let alone being unpopular enough to be turfed.

  2. I live in the other side of the country myself, and I have read a lot of nasty things about Clover Moore –

    The bike issue
    Her draconian Tim Tam policy, which he brought in through claims of “health”, “cruelty” (what does she smoke?) and “sustainability”, those three hippie words that make my blood boil (if I ever meet her, I will eat 5 packets in front of her face)
    Her draconian views on pet stores (just deport her to San Francisco already!)
    Her vision of a “sustainable” Sydney – everyone with half a brain knows that always means over-the-top taxes and regulations!

    Unfortunately, inner-city folk tend to lap this stuff up like it’s free lunch, so Moore probably will be returned again…

  3. Moore has been around for a long time and has probably begun to accumulate a range of grievances. Any chance that her and the Greens could be the last two left? Where would Labor & Lib prefs go between her and the Greens? Still she is sure to win.
    Until 1962 there was an ultra-safe Lib second eastern suburbs seat in Woollahra but Bligh merged inner city Labor and eastern suburbs Lib areas into a marginal. First Lib candidate for Bligh was former Woollahra MP and Lib leader Vernon Treatt who blamed his defeat on Liberal opposition to rent control.

  4. I suspect most of the anger about bike paths comes from liberal voting small business people, or from motorists who don’t live in the seat. Clover should be fine. Whenever she does retire, Labor and the greens will battle it out for the seat.

  5. this is a labor seat in a normal contest against the libs……..but this is no normal contest
    just add the ind & green votes together……… Mrs Moore will win again

  6. I don’t understand how this can be so safe in this election where there are such large swings. Clover Moore’s made some unpopular decisions and she’s been in office for a long time. So has the Labor government. Recent splits on the City of Sydney and her perception as being complicit in Barangaroo should see her threatening to lose her seat.

    If anything will save her, it’s the split of vote 3 ways between Greens, Labor and Liberal, all of whom are likely to have a stronger flow of preferences to her than each other.

    What’s the feeling on the ground here? Is there a strong showing from Clover Moore’s team?

  7. Im curious to know why there is an independent Fishing Party to the Shooters and Fishers Party?

    This seat can go anywhere. Clover Moore has been heavily criticised over the dedicated bike lanes (which are a pain in the arse to commute through). But given her popularity within the left-leaning locals, I think she can hang on. I do think this will end up Lib vs Ind this time around and I think the Libs will win on Primaries but Moore will win on Preferences.

  8. Neither the ALP nor Greens are preferencing Clover Moore. Raises the possibility of an upset by the Libs. Unlikely, but an outside chance? given that independent support has been known to unexpectedly collapse and the Libs got 40% primary here based on the 2010 Federal result

  9. If I were the ALP/greens I would preference Bartels

    Much easier to shift a Liberal then an Independant from this seat

  10. There is a massive push for Adrian Bartels in this seat, however, I still think Moore will win comfortably. Probably a bigger push for Bartels than any other candidate in any other seat, Labor or Liberals. Clover Moore is a hated species. The ALP/Libs should have had a preference swap in this seat.

  11. Dovif, DB, I think you’re underestimating the deep-set resentment between Labor, Liberal and Greens. Call it a bleed-over from Balmain, but the campaigns are barely acknowledging each other let alone consider exchanging preferences.

    The voters are on their own in this one. None of the four contenders are directing preferences. The lack of media attention to this contest compared to Balmain, which is in a similar situation with 4 contenders (except of course, Sheehan is no Clover), makes an interesting contrast.

    Clover’s supporters and the Greens are probably less likely to follow HTV recommendations than other parties. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  12. The radio shockjocks are running a relentless campaign against Clover(mostly on the cycleways), but I doubt she’ll have too much trouble retaining Sydney.

  13. Alastar

    The Cyclist in Sydney are mad, the do not care about red lights, I was almost ran over twice by cyclist running red lights in the last 3 months. What she did to the center of Sydney could best be discribe as disastrous

  14. The shock jock crowd hardly matches Clover’s voters’ demographics. There will be a strong swing to Libs here but she will be comfortably ahead.

  15. Alastair – mate, talk to any small businessman anywhere near their cycleways and they will tell you income was down 50% in 2010 and is only recovering slowly now. The residents of Sydney might like them, but the businesses don’t. I don’t have to listen to Alan Jones for that one.

    The business owners don’t live here, so I reckon Moore is safe, but she will have a swing against her.

    I agree with deconst. The Libs will run second but Moore will retain unfortunately.

  16. Forget the shock jocks and ranters against cycleways. How many of them actually live in the electorate of Sydney, or Sydney City Council for that matter? I suspect that most complaining business owners don’t live in the same area where they run their businesses. Those people who actually live in this electorate may well be satisfied with what Clover Moore has done. They probably see the major parties as beholden to developers and the top end of town, and this sentiment arguably got Moore elected both to Macquarie Street and Town Hall in the first place. And the major parties in NSW hate her as their SA counterparts hate Nick Xenophon.
    I tip Moore to win without any difficulty. Hers is a demographic that doesn’t like being condescended to by the Right, just like the outer suburban demographic doesn’t like being condescended to by the Left.

  17. I share Warren’s view. Moore will pick up a swing towards her from people who voted Labor at the last election. She is safe as houses.

  18. Vic Libs did well last year in inner-urban Prahran & Albert Park would BOF have similar appeal to Ted B? Still an educated electorate were you would expect left voters to preference fairly tightly?

  19. Don’t think the shock jocks will make much of an impact in a seat like this, plus the Liberal’s gay, so I doubt the shock jocks will give him much of a fair go either.

  20. Whenever Clover Moore is voted out I hope she’s held accountable for the disgraceful waste of money spent on bike paths. Unsafe idea, poorly thought out and arrogantly pushed through. Who are these bike lanes for? A small minority. Clover’s real good at prettying up our City but she’s uselss at challenging social issues such as drug users in our parks and streets.

  21. Thank you Clover. Today you have proved again your critics are totally wrong. Spoke to a lady who knows Paris well & simply said Clover is now making our City World Standard. Sure the critics can say all they like but we have to get cars out of our City of Sydney. Residents & service vehicles only thank you very much. The residents of Sydney have given you a mandate to do exactly that. Follow the London example & that of many countries across the world. Off course our new NSW Government has to get their act together to provide adequate State Public Transport

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