Willoughby by-election, 2022

Cause of by-election
Sitting Liberal MP Gladys Berejiklian resigned as NSW premier and flagged her upcoming resignation from parliament on 1 October 2021 after the Independent Commission Against Corruption announced an investigation into her.

MarginLIB 21.0%

Geography
Lower North Shore of Sydney. The seat covers most of the City of Willoughby and small parts of North Sydney local government area. The seat covers the suburbs of Chatswood, Willoughby, Middle Cove, Northbridge, Naremburn, Crows Nest and Cammeray.

History

The seat of Willoughby was first created in 1894. It was abolished for three elections in the 1920s and again for the 1988 election, but has existed at every other election. The seat has been dominated by the Liberal Party and its predecessors.

The seat was won in 1927 by Edward Sanders, an independent Nationalist. He joined the Nationalist Party and then the United Australia Party, and held the seat until his death in 1943.

The 1943 by-election was won by George Brain. He held the seat until his retirement in 1968.

Laurie McGinty won Willoughby for the Liberal Party in 1968. He served as a minister from 1973 to 1976. McGinty was defeated for preselection in 1978 by Nick Greiner. McGinty ran as an independent, and directed preferences to the ALP. The seat was won by Labor candidate Eddie Britt.

Britt was defeated in 1981 by the Liberal Party’s Peter Collins. He was re-elected in 1984. In 1988, Willoughby was renamed “Middle Harbour”, and Collins won the renamed seat. He became a minister following the 1988 election, moving up in the ranks to become Treasurer in 1993. In 1991, Middle Harbour was renamed Willoughby again.

When the Coalition lost power in 1995, Collins was elected Leader of the Opposition. He did not lead his party to an election, being replaced by Kerry Chikarovski in December 1998. He was re-elected to Willoughby in 1999 and retired in 2003.

Willoughby was won in 2003 by Gladys Berejiklian. She defeated independent Willoughby mayor Pat Reilly by only 144 votes. She was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2015.

Berejiklian became Transport Minister when the Coalition took power in 2011. She became deputy Liberal leader in 2014, and Treasurer in 2015.

Berejiklian became Premier and Liberal leader in January 2017. She led the government to a third term in 2019 and continued in her role until October 2021.

Candidates

  • William Bourke (Sustainable Australia)
  • Larissa Penn (Independent)
  • Samuel Gunning (Liberal Democrats)
  • Lynne Saville (Greens)
  • Tim James (Liberal)
  • Penny Hackett (Reason)

Assessment
Willoughby is not a competitive seat when it comes to Liberal vs Labor contests. It is a relatively strong area for the Greens, who could come second, but won’t be in a position to win. A strong independent could potentially challenge here, but that candidate has not yet emerged.

2019 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Gladys BerejiklianLiberal27,29257.0-6.5
Justin ReissLabor6,87514.4-1.5
Daniel KeoghGreens5,34211.2-4.7
Larissa PennIndependent4,7429.9+9.9
Tom CrowleyKeep Sydney Open1,4032.9+2.9
Emma BennettAnimal Justice1,0402.2+2.2
Greg GrahamSustainable Australia7791.6+1.6
Meow-Ludo Meow-MeowFlux3840.8+0.8
Informal9341.9

2019 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Gladys BerejiklianLiberal29,14271.0-3.4
Justin ReissLabor11,88529.0+3.4

Booth breakdown

Booths in Willoughby have been split into three parts: north-east, south-east and west.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 70.4% in the west to 73.6% in the north-east.

Voter groupGRN primIND primLIB 2PPTotal votes% of votes
South-East10.416.470.613,61828.5
West13.16.770.49,14219.1
North-East10.98.773.68,68718.2
Pre-poll8.97.672.95,09810.7
Other votes11.76.769.111,31223.6

Election results in Willoughby at the 2019 NSW state election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal Party, Labor, the Greens and independent candidate Larissa Penn.

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161 COMMENTS

  1. Agree with you High street that the Greens in NSW are not as strong as their equivalent branches in Victoria and Queensland. It seems that a combination of Labor and left leaning independents/minor parties are absorbing the small ‘l’ Liberal vote in the North shore area of Sydney. In inner suburban Melbourne and Brisbane, it is primarily the Greens absorbing the small ‘l’ liberal vote.

    I recall that you criticised me in a post on Bennelong arguing that I indicated the Greens are strong in North Sydney district. I intended to say that these inner suburban districts are vulnerable to a general leftward swing, be it Greens, independents or Labor. I could have phrased it better as you were probably mistaken.

    BTW – I formerly lived in Bennelong district, in Beecroft south of the M2 (pretty much the border between Bennelong and Berowra). I now live in Brisbane district, and also find myself living at the border between 2 federal districts (Kalinga, near Kedron Brook which is the border between Brisbane and Lilley districts).

  2. I also found some areas near my new Brisbane home, including Hamilton, Ascot and Hendra are somewhat like the lower North Shore area of Sydney around North Sydney – fairly affluent and conservative leaning.

  3. @High_Street – HAHAHAHA I’ll cop that :P. The feeling is mutual in that regards 😛

    On a more serious note, the fact that Tim James won in what @Yoh_Au accurately describes as a “Closed Primary” probably shows a touch of the inexperience that GGG may have encountered for the process. Unlike traditional pre-selections, what they did for Willoughby does require a deeper understanding of the branches themselves. As @Hughie correctly points out, the Pre-selection process is easy, especially when there are no endorsed candidates.

    @MQ – I think you are over-stating the situation. The biggest issue that a lot of the left-leaning parties have is that they have been guilty of not preferencing each other effectively and, with Labor coming back in for the next state election, that is only going to dilute the vote even further. Unless one candidate can muster up the efforts to attract all of the preferential votes, it still requires a big effort under normal circumstances. As stated from the previous round, Gladys got her primary vote back up to 50% at her 2nd election. That was after her primary vote dropped to below 40%. Tim James is currently sitting around 44% so that pathway is a lot shorter to winning the seat on primaries.

  4. If by chance, Trent Zimmerman loses or only just sneaks a win in North Sydney, what are the chances Gail Giles -Gidney might pop up for federal run in 2025?

  5. @redistributed Gggood but not gggreat.
    I still can’t get over how this is someone’s actual name. Although very suited to the area I ggguess

  6. @Redistributed – If he loses, I’d say highly likely, especially given that North Sydney reaches into Willougbhy City Council.

    If Zimmerman just scrapes in, I’d doubt it, given that Photios will pull all stops to ensure that he can protect one of his favourite flagbearers.

    Michael Photios…. There is a name I haven’t mentioned in a while…

  7. @Yoh An – The one and the same. The biggest power broker from the left of the Liberal Party. Still holds huge sway.

  8. I heard Photios lost a redistricting race against then Labor MP for Gladesville John Watkins when the NSW Legislative Assembly was reduced in size and Gladesville district was abolished in 1999.

    John Watkins later became Deputy Premier before resigning in 2008. Liberal candidate and now minister Victor Dominello was able to recapture Ryde in the subsequent by election.

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