City of Lake Macquarie election, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 7.35.38 pmThe City of Lake Macquarie covers southern parts of the Hunter region on three sides of Lake Macquarie, including Catherine Hill Bay, Swansea, Belmont, Kahibah, Warners Bay, Charlestown, Cardiff, Speers Point, West Wallsend, Morisset and Toronto.

Lake Macquarie has a population of approximately 202,000 people (as of 2014), which makes it the tenth most populous council in New South Wales. Lake Macquarie is the fourth most populous NSW council up for election in September 2016.

Lake Macquarie is divided up into three wards, with each ward electing four councillors. The council also includes a directly-elected mayor.

East ward covers the land mass between Lake Macquarie and the Pacific Ocean, stretching from Catherine Hill Bay in the south to Mount Hutton, Gateshead, Eleebana and Redhead in the north. This ward also covers Belmont, Valentine and Swansea.

North ward covers those areas closest to Newcastle, stretching from Dudley and Kahibah near the ocean to West Wallsend in the northwestern corner of the council. This ward covers the entire council boundary with the City of Newcastle, and only touches the shore of Lake Macquarie in one small area at Warners Bay. The ward also covers Charlestown, Hillsborough, Cardiff, Glendale and Edgeworth.

West ward covers a majority of the council’s landmass, including those areas on the western shore of Lake Macquarie and further inland. Major centres include Morisset, Toronto, Rathmines and Bonnells Bay.

Incumbent mayor
Jodie Harrison (Labor)

Incumbent councillors

East North West
Laurie Coghlan (Lake Alliance) Brian Adamthwaite (Labor) Rosmairi Dawson (Lake Alliance)
Kay Fraser (Labor) Robert Denton (Liberal) Wendy Harrison (Lake Alliance)
Chad Griffith (Labor) Barry Johnston (Lake Alliance) Ken Paxinos (Liberal)
Jason Pauling (Liberal) Barney Langford (Labor) Daniel Wallace (Labor)

Lake Macquarie has long been dominated by Labor politicians at a state and federal level, but the local council has been home to a strong independent alliance which ruled the council for two terms and still has a strong presence.

This group goes by the name “Independent Lake Alliance”, and in 2004 their mayoral candidate Greg Piper was successful in winning the mayoralty, after serving 13 years as an independent councillor. Piper’s alliance won five out of twelve council seats, with Labor winning five, the Liberal Party one, and the final seat won by independent Rob O’Brien. This gave Piper’s team six out of thirteen seats, one short of a majority.

Piper went on to win the state seat of Lake Macquarie at the 2007 election, defeating longstanding Labor MP Jeff Hunter.

Piper was re-elected as mayor in 2008, at the head of a much more diverse council. Labor’s council ranks dropped from five to three. The Liberal Party won a second seat, and the Greens won two. Piper’s team won four seats on the council in addition to his own, and the final seat was won by independent Barry Johnston, a sitting Labor councillor who had lost his preselection.

Piper was re-elected to his state seat in 2011, and in 2012 he did not run for a third term as mayor.

The mayoralty was contested by north ward councillor Jodie Harrison from Labor, and west ward councillor Wendy Harrison from the Independent Lake Alliance. Labor’s Harrison defeated the independent Harrison with 52.2% of the vote after preferences.

Labor strengthened its position on Lake Macquarie council in 2012, winning five council seats in addition to Jodie Harrison’s seat as mayor. The Independent Lake Alliance dropped to four seats, including Barry Johnston who joined their team. The Liberal Party increased their representation to three seats, while the Greens did not win any seats.

In 2014, Labor mayor Jodie Harrison was elected to state parliament in the Charlestown by-election, and she was re-elected at the 2015 state election.

Candidate summary
There are four groups who are all running a full ticket across the three wards, and no-one else is running. Labor, Liberal and the Independent Lake Alliance are all running a mayoral candidate and three full tickets across the three wards. New right-wing group Lake Mac Independents are also running in all three wards. Confusingly, all three Lake Mac Independents lead candidates in each ward are also running for mayor.

The Greens also planned to stand a full ticket of candidates, but failed to lodge their nominations due to confusion about how to pay the nomination deposits.

Sitting Labor mayor Jodie Harrison is prohibited from running for re-election without resigning her seat in state parliament. East ward councillor Kay Fraser is running as the Labor mayoral candidate. While it is normal practice for mayoral candidates to also stand for the council in case they are not successful, Fraser is not running for re-election to her council seat. Her east ward colleague Chad Griffith is not running for re-election.

Labor’s Brian Adamthwaite and Barney Langford are both running for re-election in north ward. In the west ward, sole Labor councillor Daniel Wallace is not running again.

The independent lake alliance is running longstanding east ward councillor Laurie Coghlan for mayor. Coghlan has dropped to second on the alliance’s ticket in the east ward, in a position that would not have seen him elected in 2012. North ward councillor Barry Johnston is retiring, while the ILA’s west ward team of Wendy Harrison and Rosmairi Dawson are both running again.

The Liberal Party is running Jason Pauling for mayor. Pauling is also shifting from east ward to head the party ticket in west ward, with sitting west ward councillor and former mayoral candidate Ken Paxinos demoted to third on the party ticket. Liberal north ward councillor Robert Denton is retiring.

The full candidate list is at the bottom of this guide.

The major parties in Lake Macquarie council elections since at least 2004 have consisted of the Labor Party and a centre-left independent alliance. That alliance took a big hit in 2012 with their defeat in the mayoral race.

Labor’s result in 2012 included winning the mayoral position, along with two out of four seats in the north and east. A second Labor seat in the west would have given them a majority.

The ILA’s heartland is the west ward – this covers the electorate held by Greg Piper, and the area where they performed most strongly in 2012. The ILA will need an increased vote to be confident of holding their second seat in this ward. East ward councillor Laurie Coghlan has dropped to second on the ILA ticket while also running for mayor, which suggests the alliance has ambitions to win back a second seat in the east.

It’s difficult to keep independent political machines going, as we’ve seen in places like Manly. It’s quite possible we could see the further decline of the ILA now that they don’t hold the mayoralty, in which case Labor would have a good chance of winning a majority on council.

The Liberal Party did well to win a seat in each ward in 2012, but that year was a good one for the Liberal Party and you would expect them to slip back in the vote. They won each of their seats comfortably, but could be vulnerable if there is a drop in their vote.

2012 council election result

Party Votes % Swing Seats won
Labor 36,883 33.41 +5.0 5
Liberal 28,740 26.03 +9.5 3
Independent Lake Alliance 26,242 23.77 -12.8 4
Greens 9,928 8.99 -3.7 0
Other independents 8,600 7.79 +2.0 0

2012 mayoral election result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Jodie Harrison Labor 37,202 32.84 +6.6
Wendy Harrison Independent Lake Alliance 28,944 25.55 -35.6
Ken Paxinos Liberal 25,367 22.39 +22.4
Jim Sullivan Independent 9,831 8.68 +8.7
Phillipa Parsons Greens 8,503 7.51 -5.1
Arjay Martin Independent 3,424 3.02 +3.0

2012 mayoral election two-candidate-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes %
Jodie Harrison Labor 43,956 52.17
Wendy Harrison Independent Lake Alliance 40,296 47.83
Exhausted 29,024

Vote breakdown by ward
Vote data has been broken down by ward. Mayoral results have been split based on which booth the vote was cast at, and special votes have been treated as a separate category.

The Labor council vote ranged from 25.6% in the west to 39.5% in the north.

The Liberal Party came second, with 26-27% in the east and north and 25% in the west.

The Independent Lake Alliance performed much more strongly in the west ward, where they polled 30%, clearly outpolling Labor and Liberal, while they managed just over 20% and third place in the east ward and north ward.

In the mayoral race, a similar picture is painted. Labor topped the poll in the east and north, while the ILA did best in the west.

Council results by ward

Voter group ALP % LIB % ILA % GRN % Others %
East 35.4 26.9 21.2 9.6 6.8
North 39.5 26.0 20.0 9.3 5.3
West 25.6 25.1 30.0 8.1 11.2

Mayoral results by ward

Voter group ALP % ILA % LIB % Sullivan % GRN %
East 34.8 21.9 24.2 6.9 9.0
North 36.8 22.1 20.9 7.7 8.7
West 29.0 32.5 19.6 10.5 5.8
Special 29.8 25.9 26.1 10.3 5.7

Election results at the 2012 City of Lake Macquarie council election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between primary votes for Labor, the Liberal Party, and the Independent Lake Alliance.

Election results at the 2012 City of Lake Macquarie mayoral election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between primary votes for Labor mayoral candidate Jodie Harrison, ILA mayoral candidate Wendy Harrison, and Liberal mayoral candidate Ken Paxinos.

Candidates – Mayor

  • Laurie Coghlan (Independent Lake Alliance)
  • John Gilbert (Lake Mac Independents)
  • Kay Fraser (Labor)
  • Luke Cubis (Lake Mac Independents)
  • Jason Pauling (Liberal)
  • Colin Grigg (Lake Mac Independents)

Candidates – East ward

  • A – John Gilbert (Lake Mac Independents)
  • B – Liberal
    1. Nick Jones
    2. Erin Black
    3. Wayne Ryan
    4. Susan Hatcher
  • C – Independent Lake Alliance
    1. Emma Hale
    2. Laurie Coghlan
    3. Col Taylor
    4. Bruce Potter
  • D – Labor
    1. Adam Shultz
    2. Christine Buckley
    3. Matthew McMullen
    4. Kim Langford

Candidates – North ward

  • A – Independent Lake Alliance
    1. Matt Schultz
    2. Peter Bartlett
    3. Simon Ashley
    4. Helen Walkom
  • B – Colin Grigg (Lake Mac Independents)
  • C – Labor
    1. Brian Adamthwaite
    2. Barney Langford
    3. Amanda Pearce
    4. Mark Howells
  • D – Liberal
    1. Kevin Baker
    2. Jack Antcliff
    3. Lindsay Paterson
    4. Phillip Regent

Candidates – West ward

  • A – Independent Lake Alliance
    1. Wendy Harrison
    2. Rosmairi Dawson
    3. Ann Morris
    4. Thomas Hill
  • B – Liberal
    • Jason Pauling
    • Johanna Uidam
    • Ken Paxinos
    • Colin Brownhill
  • C – Labor
    1. David Belcher
    2. Garth Weiley
    3. Madeline Bishop
    4. Val Schaffer
  • D – Luke Cubis (Lake Mac Independents)


  1. Great synopsis. A link to the indepents site would be good but best info I have been able to find on candidates so far.

  2. Yep. Excellent summary. I notice that the Lake Macquarie Independents have candidate groups in all three wards. Be useful to link to the websites for the groups. Most of the Candidate Statements on the Electoral Co. website are blank.


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