City of Penrith election, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 10.11.44 amThe City of Penrith covers suburbs in outer western Sydney, including Penrith, St Marys, Werrington, Claremont Meadows, Kingswood, Erskine Park, Jamisontown, Glenmore Park, Leonay and Londonderry.

Penrith  has a population of approximately 194,000 people (as of 2014), which makes it the thirteen most populous council in New South Wales. Penrith is the seventh most populous NSW council up for election in 2016.

Wards
Blacktown is divided up into three wards, with each ward electing five councillors.

East ward covers Kingswood, St Marys, Orchard Hills, Claremont Meadows, St Clair, Erskine Park and Kemps Creek.

North ward covers parts of the Penrith CBD and Emu Plains, along with Emu Heights, Cambridge Park, Cambridge Gardens, Werrington, Llandilo, Cranebrook, Berkshire Park and Londonderry.

South ward covers southern parts of the Penrith CBD, as well as Leonay, Jamisontown, Glenmore Park, South Penrith, Orchard Hills, Mulgoa and Wallacia.

Incumbent councillors

EastNorthSouth
Prue Car (Labor)Marcus Cornish (Independent)3Jim Aitken (Independent)
Greg Davies (Labor)Kevin Crameri (Independent)Bernard Bratusa (Liberal)2
Maurice Girotto (Christian Dem)1Ross Fowler (Liberal)2Mark Davies (Liberal)2
Jackie Greenow (Independent)John Thain (Labor)Ben Goldfinch (Liberal)2
Tricia Hitchen (Liberal)2Michelle Tormey (Greens)Karen McKeown (Labor)

1East ward councillor Maurice Girotto was elected on the Australia First ticket but is now a member of the Christian Democratic Party.
2Councillors Bratusa, Davies, Fowler, Goldfinch and Hitchen were all elected as independents in 2012, when the Liberal Party decided not to run any official tickets for Penrith council, but all are members of the Liberal Party and ran openly as Liberals.
3Councillor Cornish was elected as a Liberal independent in 2012 but resigned from the Liberal Party in May 2016 in protest at the local Liberal MP’s support for Malcolm Turnbull, and subsequently ran as an independent for the seat of Lindsay at the 2016 federal election.

History
Penrith has traditionally been one of the more marginal councils in Western Sydney. While Labor has usually held the mayoralty, Labor’s time in office has been regularly interrupted by Liberals and independents.

Labor dominated the council from 1991 until 1995, and the 1995-1999 council was mostly ruled by Liberals and independents. Labor did better in the 1999-2004 council.

The 2004 election saw Labor win seven seats, the Liberal Party four, and four other seats were held by independents. The council was governed by an alliance of Labor and independent councillor Jackie Greenow, with Greenow serving as mayor for a year and Labor councillors serving for the remaining three and a half years.

Labor and Liberal drew even in 2008, with each party winning six seats, and the last three seats were won by independent councillors Greenow, Crameri and Aitken.

The council was governed from 2008 to 2012 by an alliance of the Liberal Party’s six councillors, along with independents Jim Aitken and Kevin Crameri. Aitken and Crameri each served as mayor for a year, followed by two years by Greg Davies.

The Liberal Party was split into two factions, and in 2012 the state party decided to not endorse candidates for Penrith council. Independent tickets ran, with at least two groups including Liberals running in each ward. Despite the division, the Liberal Party maintained their six seats. The three independents were re-elected, along with four Labor councillors. The last two seats, previously held by Labor, were won by candidates running for the Greens and the far-right Australia First party.

The existing alliance of the Liberal Party, Aitken and Crameri was renewed in 2012, with Liberal Party councillors Mark Davies and Ross Fowler each serving a year. The Liberal councillors had agreed to hand over the mayoralty in 2014, with the two independents each serving a year.

Instead the alliance was broken. Five of the six Liberal councillors sided with the four Labor councillors. Ross Fowler was elected mayor for a second term, and in 2015 Labor councillor Karen McKeown became the first Labor mayor in seven years.

Candidate summary
Labor, the Liberal Party and the Greens are all running full tickets across all three wards. The CDP is running sitting councillor Maurice Girotto in the south ward, and the Liberal Democratic Party is also running a ticket in that ward.

Incumbent independent councillors Jim Aitken, Kevin Crameri and Marcus Cornish are running for re-election on their own tickets. Fellow independent Jackie Greenow is not running for re-election. Independent candidate Susan Day is also running her own ticket in the south ward.

Sitting Labor councillors Greg Davies, John Thain and Karen McKeown are all running for re-election at the top of the party’s ticket in their wards. Fellow councillor Prue Car was elected to the state parliament in 2015, so will not be running for re-election.

Liberal councillors Tricia Hitchen, Ross Fowler and Mark Davies will be heading the party ticket in the east and north ward respectively. South ward councillor Bernard Bratusa has switched to run as the second candidate in the east ward, while Ben Goldfinch is not running for re-election.

Former Liberal councillor Marcus Cornish resigned from the Liberal Party in May 2016 in protest at the local federal member supporting Malcolm Turnbull, and thus is running as an independent.

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

Assessment
Labor will be hoping for a recovery on Penrith council this year, after a similar recovery in the recent state and federal elections. They will be hoping for a second seat in the north and south wards, and possibly even a third seat in the east ward. This would bring Labor to seven seats, which would likely be enough to form a governing alliance, but it’s hard to see Labor winning the eighth seat which would give them a majority.

The Liberal Party will find it hard to retain their third seat in the south ward, which was a relic of the divided tickets of 2012. Their best hope will come in regaining their second seat in the north ward off defector Marcus Cornish, and winning back a second seat in the east ward, which will be difficult if Labor rebounds.

Independents Aitken and Crameri have a record of winning re-election without any party support. Things might be harder for Cornish, who polled 2.4% at the recent federal election. It’s hard to predict how CDP candidate Girotto will do.

The Greens will be aiming to hold onto their seat, but they would need a significant increase in the vote to be assured of a win. 8% is only enough to win if other parties have leftover preferences which flow at the right point in the count.

2012 results

PartyVotes%SwingSeats won
Liberal independents 28,34931.35+0.46
Other independents26,96629.82+0.83
Labor 24,60627.21-8.24
Greens 5,2545.81+3.11
Australia First2,8753.18+3.21
Christian Democratic Party1,7611.95+0.10
Democratic Labor Party6260.69+0.70

Vote breakdown by ward
Each ward of Penrith council elects five members, so the quota for a seat is 16.7%.

The Liberal Party topped the primary vote across the council, with a vote ranging from 25% in the east to 37% in the north. This put them in first position in the north and south and in second in the east, and was enough to elect two councillors in the north, three in the south and one in the east. The councillors elected in the south ran on two different tickets, which is why they were able to win three seats off a vote that would normally only elect two.

Labor’s vote was significantly higher in the east (39%) compared to polling just over 20% in the north and south. This was enough to win two seats in the east and one each in the north and south.

Independent tickets (excluding the Liberal independents) polled strongly, with 37% in the south, 30.6% in the north and 21% in the east. This vote was scattered between multiple tickets, so only one independent was elected in each ward.

The Greens vote was substantially higher at 8% in the north ward, compared to 4% or 5% in the east and south. The Greens managed to win a council seat in the north ward off 8%, despite polling less than half a quota.

WardLIB %ALP %GRN %IND %
East25.138.95.221.3
North37.022.18.230.6
South32.120.74.237.3

Election results (Liberal independents and Labor) at the 2012 Penrith City Council election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between primary votes for the Liberal independents and Labor.

Election results (others independents and Greens) at the 2012 Penrith City Council election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between primary votes for other independents and the Greens.

Candidates – East ward

  • A – Labor
    1. Greg Davies
    2. Todd Carney
    3. Benjamin Price
    4. Samara Phillips
    5. Edwin Mifsud
  • B – Liberal
    1. Tricia Hitchen
    2. Bernard Bratusa
    3. Jeremy Bentvelzen
    4. Victor Shipley
    5. James Hill
  • C – Gavin Smith (Greens)

Candidates – North ward

  • A – Kevin Crameri
  • B – Marcus Cornish
  • C – Liberal
    1. Ross Fowler
    2. Glenn Gardiner
    3. Belinda Hill
    4. Glynis Hayne
    5. Dennis Golding
  • D – Labor
    1. John Thain
    2. Aaron Duke
    3. Robin Cook
    4. Peter Gray
    5. Celine Smullen
  • E – Michelle Tormey (Greens)

Candidates – South ward

  • A – Susan Day
  • B – Maurice Girotto (Christian Democratic Party)
  • C – Patrick Rearden (Liberal Democratic Party)
  • D – Liberal
    1. Mark Davies
    2. Joshua Hoole
    3. Alexander Green
    4. Jessica Neale
    5. Brian Cartwright
  • E – Patrick Darley-Jones (Greens)
  • F – Jim Aitken
  • G – Labor
    1. Karen McKeown
    2. Kathryn Presdee
    3. Stephen Heart
    4. Lorraine Fordham
    5. Phillip Kessey

4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Ben,

    Ben Goldfinch is stepping down this time to concentrate on his young and growing family.
    It might be a typo in your ‘Candidate Summary”.

    Cheers

  2. When I went to vote in St Clair , yesterday, I was given one ballot paper with an option of voting only for Liberals, labor or Greens. Where were the other independent names ?

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