Sydney – NSW 2019

IND 8.1% vs LIB

Incumbent MP
Alex Greenwich, since 2012.

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

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.

At the 2011 election, the Liberal Party gained a substantial swing, increasing their primary vote by 14%. Clover Moore, Labor and the Greens also suffered swings. Labor fell from third place to fourth place on primary votes. Labor had come second after preferences in 2007, but the Liberal Party replaced them in that position in 2011. Clover Moore’s margin fell from 16.6% against Labor in 2007 to 3.1% against the Liberal Party in 2011.

The new Coalition government moved to prohibit the arrangement whereby Clover Moore served as both Lord Mayor and as Member for Sydney. Legislation was passed in 2012 prohibiting sitting MPs from running for council elections, which would allow councillors to shift to Parliament, but would not allow councillors who are MPs to run for re-election. Moore resigned from Sydney in late 2012 to nominate for a third term as Lord Mayor.

The ensuing 2012 by-election was won by independent candidate Alex Greenwich, who was closely aligned with Moore. Greenwich was re-elected in 2015.


Alex Greenwich will probably have no trouble winning re-election in 2019. His main opponent came from the Liberal Party, and they are likely to struggle at this election.

2015 result

Alex GreenwichIndependent16,94739.6+39.6
Patrice Pandeleos Liberal 14,03732.8-6.1
Edwina Lloyd Labor 6,30314.7+4.3
Chris Brentin Greens 4,1569.7-2.6
David PelzmanNo Land Tax4951.2+1.2
Elaine AddaeChristian Democrats3670.9-0.2
Joanna RzetelskiIndependent2300.5+0.5
Victor TaffaIndependent2130.5+0.5

2015 two-candidate-preferred result

Alex GreenwichIndependent20,61258.1+7.8
Patrice Pandeleos Liberal 14,88541.9-7.8

2015 two-party-preferred result

Patrice Pandeleos Liberal 16,21256.7-11.3
Edwina Lloyd Labor 12,40143.3+11.3

Booth breakdown

Booths have been split into three areas. Those around Darlinghurst and Paddington have been grouped together, with the remainder, including the Sydney CBD, grouped as ‘west’.

Alex Greenwich won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote (against the Liberal candidate) in all three areas, ranging from 51.8% in Paddington to 68.3% in Darlinghurst.

Labor came third, with a primary vote ranging from 9.4% in Paddington to 14.6% in the west. The Greens vote ranged from 7.6% in Paddington to 14.6% in the west.

Voter groupGRN prim %ALP prim %IND 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes11.816.752.815,75836.9

Election results in Sydney at the 2015 NSW state election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Independent vs Liberal), Labor primary votes and Greens primary votes.

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  1. Greenwich will easily hold, and I think Labor will retake second. Most Green voters here would likely vote for Greenwich, and this is a seat to watch when Greenwich decides to retire – Liberals, Labor and the Greens could all theoretically win here.


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