Canterbury by-election, 2016

Cause of by-election
Sitting Labor MP Linda Burney resigned from the state parliament to successfully run for the federal seat of Barton at the 2016 federal election.

MarginALP 15.7%

Inner south-west of Sydney. Canterbury covers eastern parts of the City of Canterbury and a small part of the Ashfield local government area. It covers the suburbs of Belmore, Canterbury, Campsie, Clemton Park, Earlwood and Hurlstone Park.

The district of Canterbury has sent members to the Legislative Assembly since 1859, with the exception of three elections in the 1920s. The seat has been held by the ALP continuously since 1935.

The district of Canterbury was included in the multi-member district of St George from 1920 to 1927. When the seat was restored in 1927, it was won by the ALP’s Arthur Tonge. He had been elected to a casual vacancy in the district of North Shore in 1926.

Tonge was defeated by 111 votes in 1932 by the United Australia Party’s Edward Hocking. He regained the seat in 1935, and held it until 1962, when he lost Labor endorsement and retired.

Kevin Stewart defeated Tonge for preselection in Canterbury in 1962. He served as a minister in the Labor government from 1976 to 1985, when he resigned from Parliament to take up appointment as NSW Agent-General in London.

The 1986 by-election was won by Canterbury mayor Kevin Moss. He retained the seat throughout the 1980s and 1990s, retiring at the 2003 election.

Canterbury was won in 2003 by Linda Burney, the first indigenous member of the NSW Parliament. She served as a minister in the Labor government from 2007 to 2011, and served as deputy leader of the NSW Labor Party from 2011 until 2016.


Labor should safely retain Canterbury. It’s not clear whether the Liberal Party will contest the seat. While the seat is a relatively good one for the Greens, they would not be the likely beneficiary from an absent Liberal Party.

2015 result

Linda Burney Labor 23,92950.2+1.4
Nomiky Panayiotakis Liberal 12,85927.0-9.9
Tony IssaChristian Democratic Party4,85410.2+6.0
Linda Eisler Greens 4,6089.7+0.3
Tony MaioranaNo Land Tax1,3862.9+2.9

2015 two-party-preferred result

Linda Burney Labor 27,66365.7+8.3
Nomiky Panayiotakis Liberal 14,44734.3-8.3

Booth breakdown

Booths in Canterbury have been split into three parts: east, north and west.

The ALP won a large majority in all areas. The Labor two-party-preferred vote was lowest at 63.6% in the south, and highest at 71.9% in the north. Labor polled 65.5% of the pre-poll vote, about in line with the total result.

The Christian Democratic Party came second – their vote was substantially higher in the north and south, with around 12% in each area, compared to only 6.5% in the east. The CDP substantially overperformed in the pre-poll vote.

The Greens came third, with over 13% in the east, 8.3% in the north, and just under 7% in the south and in the pre-poll vote.

Voter groupCDP %GRN %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes7.712.463.29,08619.1

Election results in Canterbury at the 2015 NSW state election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between two-party-preferred votes, Christian Democratic Party primary votes and Greens primary votes.


  1. The CDP seems to be making substantial inroads amongst certain ethnic communities. I suspect in this case it might be Middle Eastern Christians from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon?

  2. Labor should hold this easily, I doubt the Libs would contest a seat like this, therefore the CDP should come a strong second, the Greens should see a swing towards mostly due to the fact that Burney would have taken quite a few of their prospective voters, that being said a swing in the range of 3%.

  3. Comparing the primary and 2pp swings, there seem to have been a fair few CDP voters who put Labor ahead of the Libs. Weird.

    The CDP have come second in a by-election before, in the WA seat of Armadale in 2010. Just like Canterbury, it’s one of Labor’s safest seats; the Libs didn’t run, and the CDP ate most of their vote instead of the Greens.

  4. Bird of paradox, you’re right, the split in CDP is about even (very roughly it’s about 25:25:50 exhaust). Although the CDP did get the donkey vote which would then have flowed to Labor.

    The other thing to note is that the CDP candidate shared a name with the Liberal member for not-that-far-away Granville. Of the seats Canterbury bordered, only in Lakemba to the west did the CDP do at all well (they failed to crack 4% in Strathfield, Summer Hill, Kogarah and Rockdale). Given all this, I suspect the CDP vote here is at least slightly inflated, although they’d still have to be a reasonable shot of coming second if the Liberals sit out the by-election, as they surely will.

  5. Further to the above, the CDP upper-house vote here was 5.12%, which is I suspect closer to their actual level of support. (In Lakemba it was 8.4%.) The Greens got 9.33%, which lines up much more closely with their LA vote. No Land Tax got a donkey vote of 3.2% in the LC. The Labor vote was down in the LC and the Liberal vote up, suggesting a Burney personal vote, but not enough for Labor to worry.

  6. The original plan under discussion among senior factional leaders is for Ms Burney to move to Barton, opening the way for Mr Graham to contest preselection in Canterbury.


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