Sutherland Shire election, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 7.34.49 pmSutherland Shire covers parts of southern Sydney, bordered by the Georges River on the north and west, the Pacific Ocean on the east and the Royal National Park (and the border with the City of Wollongong) on the south.

Sutherland has a population of approximately 225,000 people (as of 2014), which makes it the fifth-largest council in New South Wales. Sutherland was previously the second-largest council, but was overtaken by the newly-created Canterbury-Bankstown, Central Coast and Northern Beaches councils, all of which have had their elections delayed until 2017. After Blacktown, Sutherland is the second-biggest council in New South Wales which is up for election in 2016.

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

The five wards are named with letters from A to E.

A Ward covers the entire Pacific Ocean coastline, including the Kurnell peninsula and the suburbs of Cronulla, Woolooware, Port Hacking, Bundeena, Maianbar and part of Lilli Pilli. This ward also covers most of the Royal National Park, with its western border close to Waterfall and Heathcote.

B Ward covers the centre of the council, including the suburbs of Gymea, Miranda, Kirrawee, Yowie Bay, Gymea Bay and Grays Point, along with parts of Lilli Pilli and Caringbah South.

C Ward covers suburbs on the south side of the Georges River including Sylvania, Sylvania Waters, Caringbah, Oyster Bay and Kareela.

D Ward covers the Sutherland city centre and suburbs in the southwest of the shire, including Waterfall, Heathcote, Engadine, Yarrawarrah and Woronora Heights.

E Ward covers the western edge of the council, including a number of suburbs along the Georges River. Suburbs in E Ward include Menai, Alfords Point, Bangor, Illawong, Como, Bonnett Bay, Woronora and Barden Ridge.

Minor changes were made to all five wards.

A Ward lost part of Caringbah South and Lilli Pilli to B Ward, and gained the remainder of Woolooware from C Ward and parts of the Royal National Park from D Ward. B Ward lost the remainder of Caringbah to C Ward and part of Kirrawee to D Ward. D Ward also lost the remainder of Woronora to E Ward.

Incumbent councillors

A Ward Carol Provan (Liberal)1 Kevin Schrieber (Liberal) Scott Williams (Liberal)
B Ward Phil Blight (Labor) Tracy Cook (Liberal) Kent Johns (Liberal)
C Ward Hassan Awada (Liberal) Tom Croucher (Liberal) Peter Scaysbrook (Labor)
D Ward Carmelo Pesce (Liberal) Diedree Steinwall (Labor)2 Bruce Walton (Liberal)3
E Ward John Riad (Liberal) Steve Simpson (Liberal) Peter Towell (Shire Watch)

1Independent councillor Carol Provan joined the Liberal Party at some point in the last council term.
2Labor councillor Diedree Steinwall resigned from Sutherland Shire council in May 2016 to contest the federal seat of Hughes at the 2016 federal election.
3Bruce Walton was re-elected as an independent councillor in 2012 but joined the Liberal Party in September 2013.

Sutherland Shire has oscillated back and forth over recent decades between being controlled by an alliance of Labor and independents and being controlled by the Liberal Party.

In the council term from 1999 until 2004, Sutherland Shire was governed by an alliance of Labor and Shire Watch, a centre-left local independent alliance.

Labor’s Ken McDonnell served as mayor from 1999 until 2000, then Shire Watch’s Tracie Sonda held the mayoralty from 2000 until 2002, when she was succeeded by Labor’s Phil Blight.

The Liberal Party improved its position at the 2004 election, winning seven seats. Labor won three seats and Shire Watch won four, with the last going to conservative independent Marie Simone.

Liberal councillors David Redmond and Kevin Schreiber each served as Mayor during the 2004-2008 term: Redmond from 2004 to 2006 and Schreiber from 2006 until the 2008 election.

The Liberal term did not run as party members in 2008, and instead all contested the election as independents. Four Liberals won seats in Sutherland Shire, along with friendly independent Craig McCallum. George Capsis’ Community First team won another two seats, but Labor and Shire Watch won a majority, with five Shire Watch councillors and three Labor councillors.

Shire Watch’s Lorraine Kelly held the mayoralty from 2008 until 2010, when it was handed back to Labor’s Phil Blight.

The Shire Watch/Labor alliance broke down before the 2011 mayoral election, with Shire Watch councillor Carol Provan leaving the group and allying with the Liberal councillors, who helped elect her as mayor.

Shire Watch was devastated at the 2012 election. The Liberal Party won nine out of fifteen seats. Labor held their three seats, and only one Shire Watch councillor (Peter Towell) was re-elected. Two other independents were re-elected. Carol Provan, who had split with Shire Watch and was mayor at the time of the election, was re-elected as an independent. Councillor Bruce Walton, who had won a by-election in D Ward in 2010 on the conservative independent ticket of Craig McCallum, was re-elected while McCallum was defeated.

Since the 2012 election, the Liberal Party’s ranks on the council have swelled with both Walton and Provan joining the party, leaving them with 11 out of 15 seats.

Candidate summary
Labor and Liberal are both running full tickets across the council. They are the only groups to do so. Eight years ago, the Liberal Party did not run in the election and Labor only won three seats. This year, very few candidates are running from outside of the big parties.

Six out of eleven Liberal councillors are running for re-election.

A Ward councillors Schrieber and Williams are both retiring. The Liberal ticket is headed by Carol Provan, who has been twice elected as an independent, and will be joined by former independent councillor Marie Simone.

Former Mayor Kent Johns and fellow councillor Tracy Cook are running for re-election in B Ward.

Liberal deputy mayor Hassan Awada was expected to run for re-election in C Ward, but was ruled ineligible due to his failure to update his address on the electoral roll before rolls closed. His colleague Tom Croucher is running for re-election, along with Daniel Nicholls.

Sitting mayor Carmelo Pesce is running for re-election in D Ward along with Michael Medway. Sitting councillor Bruce Walton, who joined the Liberal Party in 2013, is not running for re-election.

Sitting Liberal councillor and former mayor Steve Simpson was defeated for preselection in E Ward. Simpson is running again as an independent, and councillor John Riad and new candidate Matthew Versi are running for the Liberal Party.

Sitting Labor councillor Peter Scaysbrook is running in C Ward. Diedree Steinwall, who resigned from her council seat in D Ward to run for the federal election, is aiming to win back her old seat. Sitting Labor councillor Phil Blight is retiring in B Ward. Labor is running former state MP Barry Collier for his seat.

Peter Towell, the sole surviving Shire Watch councillor, is running for re-election as an independent in E Ward.

The Greens are also running candidates for A Ward and B Ward. Apart from Labor, Liberal, Greens and the two independent councillors Simpson and Towell, the only other candidate is Mat Egan, running as an ungrouped independent in D Ward.

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

The Liberal Party is now in a dominant position in Sutherland Shire, holding two out of three seats in most wards, and all three seats in A Ward.

It’s hard to see the Liberal Party winning more than two seats in any ward, but their vote could well be enough to hold on to two seats in each ward, giving them a total of ten seats out of fifteen.

The 2012 election was a good one for the Liberal Party, and you could see some swing back from the Liberal Party, but the absence of opponents may help the Liberal Party in this situation. The Shire is naturally conservative territory, and Labor has only been able to govern in the past thanks to an alliance with non-Labor independents. In contrast, Labor and the Greens are the only opposition to the Liberal Party in four of the five wards.

In those four wards, the Liberal Party is likely to win two of the seats with Labor winning the other seat. This alone will give the Liberal Party a majority. Sitting councillors Peter Towell and Steve Simpson are serious contenders for seats in E Ward, but their votes won’t be enough to break the Liberal hold on Sutherland.

2012 results

Party Votes % Swing Seats won
Liberal 56,201 43.98 +17.4 9
Labor 22,035 17.24 -7.3 3
Shire Watch 20,654 16.16 -7.9 1
Putting the Shire First 14,218 11.13 +7.2 1
Other independents 6,817 5.33 +2.2 1
Greens 5,059 3.96 +1.3 0
Christian Democratic Party 2,607 2.04 +2.0 0
Australia First 190 0.15 -0.6 0

‘Putting the Shire First’ was a ticket of independents who ran in all five wards, led by incumbent councillors Craig McCallum and Bruce Walton.

Vote breakdown by ward
The following two tables show the vote in each ward before and after the recent redistribution. In addition to the results of the 2012 election for Liberal, Labor and others, the tables include an estimate of the two-party-preferred vote for the Liberal Party in that area at the 2013 federal election. The redistribution changes were relatively minor, so most vote figures haven’t changed by much.

The Liberal Party’s strongest ward in federal elections is A Ward. The worst ward is D Ward, with the other three laying in between.

In 2012, the Liberal vote was lowest in A Ward and D Ward, where conservative independents Carol Provan and Bruce Walton were re-elected. Both have since joined the Liberal Party, and you’d expect to see these wards to fall into line with the party’s vote in other wards.

The Labor vote ranged from 24% in D Ward to 11.6% in A Ward. A vote of almost 19% in B Ward and C Ward was enough to win their second and third seats.

The vote for other candidates ranged from 32.8% in B Ward to over 50% in A Ward. Shire Watch polled just under 10% in A Ward and 17-19% in the other four wards, but only managed a win in one of those wards.

The ‘Putting the Shire First’ ticket had a vote ranging from 23% for Bruce Walton in D Ward to less than 4% in B Ward.

The vote for the Greens was highest at 7.7% in B Ward and lowest at 5.8% in E Ward. The Greens did not run in wards C and D.

Pre-redistribution vote numbers

Voter group LIB % ALP % Other % LIB 2013 2PP
Ward A 37.7 11.6 50.7 67.5
Ward B 48.4 18.8 32.8 65.5
Ward C 43.8 18.6 37.5 65.6
Ward D 33.6 24.0 42.4 60.9
Ward E 55.8 13.3 30.9 65.8

Post-redistribution vote numbers

Voter group LIB % ALP % Other % LIB 2013 2PP
Ward A 37.5 11.7 50.8 67.0
Ward B 48.2 18.5 33.3 66.2
Ward C 44.1 18.5 37.3 65.7
Ward D 33.9 23.9 42.2 60.9
Ward E 55.8 13.3 30.9 65.8

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

Election results for independents at the 2012 Sutherland Shire Council election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between primary votes for the Shire Watch and Putting the Shire First tickets and for the total vote for other candidates.

The following map shows the location of booths at the 2012 council election. Click on each booth to see the booth name and the vote for each party, including minor parties.

Candidates – A Ward

  • A – Liberal
    1. Carol Provan
    2. Marie Simone
    3. Mike Schrafft
  • B – Labor
    1. Michael Forshaw
    2. Diana Lozell
    3. David Atkins
  • C – Nathan Hunt (Greens)

Candidates – B Ward

  • A – Liberal
    1. Kent Johns
    2. Tracy Cook
    3. Jelena Erceg
  • B – Jonathan Doig (Greens)
  • C – Labor
    • Barry Collier
    • Jack Boyd
    • Mikaelee Miller

Candidates – C Ward

  • A – Liberal
    1. Tom Croucher
    2. Daniel Nicholls
    3. Rhonda Holt
  • B – Labor
    1. Ray Plibersek
    2. Gavin Ewer
    3. John Spilstead

Candidates – D Ward

  • A – Labor
    1. Deidree Steinwall
    2. Greg McLean
    3. Alex McMahon
  • B – Liberal
    1. Carmelo Pesce
    2. Michael Medway
    3. Jaimie Allen
  • Ungrouped
    • Mat Egan

Candidates – E Ward

  • A – Peter Towell
  • B – Steve Simpson
  • C – Labor
    1. Peter Scaysbrook
    2. Donna Churchland
    3. John Moran
  • D – Liberal
    1. John Riad
    2. Matthew Versi
    3. Meredith Laverty


  1. My local council. You’re entirely right in your assessment Ben, this is ultra-conservative territory – the Liberals should have no trouble winning a majority.

  2. ALTHOUGH having said that, it will be interesting to see if Collier can pulls his personal vote with him…

  3. Given this is basically Liberal turf, Labor have really put together a high-profile team here (a former Senator, State MP, high profile locals).

    Can’t see it flipping, but may be closer than many expect.

  4. Good assessment Ben. As a lifetime shire dweller (I almost got out but circumstances don’t allow that now) I am feeling more and more suffocated by the conservative majority down here. I am really interested to see if there is any swing against Liberal this election as people are voicing their concerns about over development and lack of parking considerations quite loudly. Will they use their vote to send a message. The Liberal party quickly shifted responsibility for assessment of major developments to the State government after the last election and we have ssen some massive projects approved as a result.


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