Bennelong – Australia 2022

LIB 6.9%

Incumbent MP
John Alexander, since 2010.

Bennelong straddles the north shore and western suburbs of Sydney. The seat covers the entirety of Ryde local government area, as well as Epping, Carlingford and Ermington, from Hornsby and Parramatta council areas. Main suburbs in the seat are Ryde, Epping, Ermington, Eastwood and Gladesville.

Bennelong was created in 1949, and was held by only two MPs between then and the 2007 federal election. Bennelong originally covered Ryde, Hunters Hill and Lane Cove, but not areas such as Eastwood and Epping that are now contained within the seat.

Bennelong was first won by John Cramer (LIB) in 1949. Cramer served as Minister for the Army under Robert Menzies from 1956 to 1963. During his time holding Bennelong the seat was never a very safe seat, and in 1961 Cramer only held on by 1832 votes. His largest margin was 15.4% in 1966.

Cramer retired at the 1974 election and was succeeded by John Howard (LIB). Howard went on to serve as a minister under Malcolm Fraser, including as Treasurer from 1977 to 1983. He then served in a variety of roles on the opposition frontbench after 1983, including as two stints as Opposition Leader (1985-1989, 1995-1996). He was elected as Prime Minister in 1996 and served until 2007.

The seat of Bennelong had gradually shifted to the north-west over the decades, taking in Epping. The 1992 redistribution saw the last parts of Lane Cove removed from the seat, and Howard’s margin was cut in 1993. After recovering in 1996 to a margin over 10% it gradually declined to a 4.3% margin in 2004, when the Greens ran high-profile former intelligence officer Andrew Wilkie against Howard.

The 2006 redistribution saw Howard’s margin cut slightly and the ALP decided to target the seat, running former journalist Maxine McKew. McKew won the seat with 51.4% of the two-party vote.

In 2010, McKew was defeated by former tennis champion John Alexander. Alexander was re-elected in 2013 and 2016.

John Alexander was found to be a British dual citizen in 2017, and resigned from his seat to recontest without any citizenship concerns. He was re-elected at that by-election, despite a swing to Labor. Alexander was re-elected in 2019.

Sitting Liberal MP John Alexander is not running for re-election.

Bennelong has been drifting back to the Liberal Party after being a key seat in 2007 and 2010, but it is still not particularly safe.

2019 result

John Alexander Liberal 48,94250.8+0.4
Brian Owler Labor 32,76934.0+5.6
Qiu Yue Zhang Greens 9,1169.5+0.3
Julie WorsleyChristian Democratic Party3,5883.7-2.7
Andrew MarksUnited Australia Party1,8902.0+2.0

2019 two-party-preferred result

John Alexander Liberal 54,80956.9-2.8
Brian Owler Labor 41,49643.1+2.8

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into five parts around the main suburbs of Bennelong: Eastwood, Epping, Gladesville, Ryde and West Ryde.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all five areas, ranging from 53% in West Ryde to 60% in Gladesville.

Voter groupGRN prim %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
West Ryde9.453.012,08312.5
Other votes9.662.213,09713.6

Election results in Bennelong at the 2019 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal Party, Labor and the Greens.

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  1. Yoh An, on what basis do you suggest the modern Labor Party is especially concerned with social justice? Outside of them condemning the treatment of women with regards to this year’s LNP scandals, nothing really comes to mind.

  2. Daniel, this is honestly getting ridiculous. How can you say something as asinine as “…the Asian community is overwhelmingly left-wing…”.

    1. You have given no evidence to support this claim.
    2. You treat the ‘Asian vote’ as a monolith which it is anything but (e.g. Chinese voters in Bennelong vs Vietnamese voters in Fowler).
    3. Flies in the face of what we do know about Chinese voters (many of whom are significantly more affluent than the average voter and therefore more predisposed to voting Liberal).
    4. Ignores the pro-Liberal trajectory of seats with a high amount of ‘Asian voters’ (e.g. at the state level, Oatley, Ryde, Kogarah etc).

    I’ve resisted calling you out for your incredulous posts before but we’ve reached a point where its become totally farcical.

  3. Wilson, I am referring to the issue of the Labor Party focusing on topics such as anti-corruption/potential scandals such as sports rorts/other funding issues. I support some aspects of this area, and believe that the Coalition should be more open and disclose material so that they don’t get criticised for being ‘secretive’.

    However, I also believe that the excessive focus on this area may be causing the Labor Party to lose support amongst some of their traditional supporters (middle/working class voters) who are not really worried/maybe don’t care much about the actions of government MPs.

  4. In response to Wreathy, this shows Daniel may have no clue at all when it comes to the demographic groups in the Sydney area. Being from Brisbane, he probably hasn’t been exposed much to communities with large concentrations of minority groups.

  5. Agree with WOS, it is silly to compare the Indochinese community many who came on the Humanitarian program following the Vietnam war for example the Malaysian Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese community or the Korean community who are much more affluent. Strathfield is very different to Cabramatta, Glen Waverley is different to Springvale only 5km away. We need to understand that there are class differences among Australians of non European heritage. Australia has immigrants who migrated for economic reasons and those who came due to political reasons.

  6. Yoh An, I’m not sure how anti-corruption measures can be termed as “social justice”. Surely that’s simply a matter of good governance and reassuring voters that their taxes aren’t being misappropriated, rather than trying to uplift any particular demographic in society.

    What evidence is there to support the idea that voters are unconcerned with political corruption?

  7. Wilson, I probably have it wrong using the term ‘social justice’ to describe the issue of good governance. However, I have read that other posters on this site refer to the Labor Party ‘talking about itself’ and how this causes many people in the lower socioeconomic groups to turn off as a result. Perhaps Winediamond and maybe Wreathy can expand more on this.

  8. With all respects can we get back to analysis of the seat of Bennelong and not the philosophies of the parties. Maybe Ben can create a new page for the philosophical chat.

  9. I thought for a bit of holiday sport I would join this pile on Daniel, but would do it from Daniel’s side to provide some balance – but I see Wilson already has.

    There was a comment yesterday trying to refute Daniel’s assertion that Bennelong had small L Liberals in an economic sense. Though I am not entirely sure what that means, the anecdotes about people in their 20’s being pushed to buy property seems to me totally irrelevant to the matter – that occurred in all types of electorates.

    And You An, not sure where you live, but there is ZERO chance of a Greens push in North Sydney – please do not lump all electorates the media refer to as “safe Liberal” into the one bucket.

    And I agree with Wilson regarding your anti corruption example. You then say this is a case of Labor “talking about itself” They are actually talking about about the principles of good governance that this nation has benefited from for 115 years until the last few years.

  10. Labor hasn’t even preselected anyone yet. They’ve given up on it.
    Labor performed poorly in the Ryde council elections, and this would’ve been a litmus test for resource allocation.
    I can’t see the Libs losing this, for a few reasons:
    a) Relatively strong conservative base within the Armenian community, who make up a large number of the electorate
    b) Church-going Chinese and Koreans, who dominate the Eastwood and Epping areas; many of whom are small-business owners.
    c) Labor burning through 4 candidates in as many elections- sends a poor message to voters that their candidates were only interested in winning a seat and not the area, ie they piss off out of there as soon as they lose.
    Yat-Sen Li (2013) became a 2 x Senate candidate after failing to capture the seat, Keneally hiked to Fowler to get a safer seat, after being gifted a Senate vacancy, and Owler and Howison disappeared never to be seen again.
    Owler was wasted by the ALP, was a very good candidate but not supported by head office and had to wear the anchor of Bill Shorten’s leadership in 2019.
    For Labor this all comes back to Maxine McKew, who wasted the opportunity and became lazy once elected. A textbook example of what not to do as a celebrity candidate.
    The thing is, had Labor nominated a local community figure in the mould of a John Watkins, they may have very well held the seat today. But the reverse could be said if Howard had retired, and the 2007-2010 period would have been an anomaly.
    Working assumption based on qualitative data is that the Liberals hold the triumvirate of marginals: Bennelong (although trending safe Liberal), Reid and Banks

  11. I think the LJ Davidson commentary on Bennelong is reasonably accurate. From a psephological perspective, the booths all tend to line up in the 55-60 range for the Libs, not mush less than this (maybe Epping and Eastwood central) and not much better than this except for Putney.

    With Laxale and ALP performing poorly in council elections, I would have thought that if they wanted to give it a shot, the ALP would need to look beyond Laxale, who is a regular loser, and find a community based candidate in the Watkins mould. It won’t be easy 4 months out.

  12. Actually Labor got a higher share of the vote than the Liberals in Ryde last month. If anyone underperformed it was definitely the latter. Not that I see Bennelong going ALP this year.

    You know we’ve all wasted a lot of keystrokes the past few days on a seat that’s honestly pretty boring

  13. @High Street

    My intention in stating these “anecdotes” is to portray an archetype to provide a general sense of the attitudes and values one will find to be pervasive in the Bennelong electorate. My point is that the Asian migrants in Bennelong are exceptionally aspirational and have very high expectations of their children. Now, again, you could tell me that this can be found in migrant communities all across Australia. But it is no accident that Bennelong scores higher on income, socioeconomic status, and university education than other areas with a large Asian population. Nor is it an accident that some of the highest-performing schools in NSW are in and around the Bennelong electorate.

    Also see @LJ Davidson’s points (a) and (b).

  14. Bennelong = Ryde City + Epping/Nth Epping. That was such a bizarre council result it is representative of nothing. Lib & Labor about 35% each and Labor had another 15% of the vote via The Greens and pro-ALP Chinese tickets directed to it. Any of at least 20 events would have seen ALP continue to control the Council, but the quotas and vote exhaustion gave this weird,bizarre, result.

    If The Greens had advertised in the local paper, if the ALP vote hadn’t improved so much, if the donkey vote had favored any of the ALP’s many allies instead of the ALP, if some obscure and inexperienced Chinese guy with a 4% vote that went nowhere had fumbled his last moment group registration, if an expelled ALP councilor had got a few more votes, if Labor voters followed the ticket (Greens) instead of voting Liberal, then in any of these instances (any many more) the ALP would still hold Ryde City.

    This result was inconceivable. The Libs aren’t expected to run a star candidate in Bennelong again and the main contenders (a female and a former City of Sydney Chinese councilor) don’t even live in the area. Labor doesn’t even need a star candidate to win back Bennelong. Find another ABC host or another Keneally ring-in now that the opportunity is available and the ALP could lock in a win.

  15. Vulture, one of the Liberal contenders you refer to is Craig Chung. He was a local in this district previously, having served on Ryde Council 2012-16 before moving to City of Sydney so he can possibly draw on some local connections. Don’t know about the other frontrunner for preselection but Bennelong is a traditionally conservative seat. Whilst it has become marginal now, it still has a 6-7% margin and may not be a guaranteed Labor win. Even as an open seat, it is probably not a toss up and the Liberal Party is still favoured to retain it.

  16. @ Vulture interesting take. Although Labor overcoming a 6.9% margin with a foundation of 3 Liberal state members (Lane Cove, Ryde and Epping- one of whom is the state Premier), along with a Liberal controlled Ryde Council and Lane Cove Council split is a significant Everest to climb.
    With the right candidate anything is possible but not sure who that would be as the clock is ticking

    @Yoh An- the other frontrunner for Bennelong for the Libs is Gisele Kapterian, a former chief-of-staff to Michaelia Cash. There’s a bit of a ill-will with her candidacy as she tried to challenge JA last election but didn’t have the numbers, she is also perceived as somewhat of a Canberra insider.
    Money is on Chung though for a lot of reasons, he is a better organiser, very well connected with the Chinese community in the area (probably on par with JYL) and given he has already held elected office in 2 different LGAs. He’s also a UWS boy which is a great look for the Libs who are trying to shed the elitist North Shore/Eastern Suburbs tag

  17. Lane Cove Council has nothing to do with Bennelong – it is entirely within the border of North Sydney. And it is not really split – it is controlled 6-3 by the left and centrists.

  18. High Street, I would also add the point that Ryde Council whilst it is now Liberal controlled, it is just a bare 1 seat majority. Ryde council is normally quite ‘swingy’ and that the Liberals normally dont have solid majorities unlike some neighbouring councils such as Hornsby.

  19. @High Street many families who send their boys to St Ignatius live in Putney, Gladesville and North Ryde so yes Bennelong and Lane Cove are linked (maybe not explicitly on paper but yes there is a deep connection there). There isn’t much difference in the demos of Lane Cove to Gladesville/Putney. There also seems to be the assumption that people just live and work in their electorate, which is not the case at all. People can have a deep affinity, and more importantly influence on areas in which they don’t live or vote. Especially when it comes to areas of health and education.
    I think putting the Lane Cove independents in the same basket as Labor and the Greens is probably somewhat premature given the infancy of the council’s term. Being gifted the Deputy Mayoralty is not the same as being in lockstep ideologically. Things change, and given this is only a 3 year term, these same councillors may change their alliance based on opportunism closer to the next election.
    In terms of Ryde council, at the end of the day it’s about how many councillors you win. Libs were strategic in where they ran and that’s why they were the beneficiaries

  20. Would agree with some of your points LJ Davidson, with regards to independents and their ‘partisan’ lean. In the previous council term, left leaning independent Michelle Garrard in Parramatta council served as Deputy Mayor alongside Liberal Mayors Bob Dwyer and Steven Issa.

    I would have to disagree with you regarding Lane Cove council. Whilst there is the ‘commuter’ overlap between Lane Cove and some parts of Ryde council that you refer to, the eastern part of Ryde Council is more monolithic and less diverse than the western part. Gladesville and Putney probably belong better with Hunters Hill in terms of demographic and partisan lean, being more conservative and not as multicultural compared to suburbs like Eastwood and Ryde proper.

  21. LJ Davidson – were’t you trying to convince us all earlier in the week on anther thread that North Sydney Council has now impact on Willoughby State electorate, when say 33% approx. of it overlaps, and now Lane Cove Council does have an impact on Bennelong, when their is not overlap at all! Phew – call me confused… Plenty of families who live in Willoughby send their boys to St Ignatius too, but I’ve not saying they influence how people in the suburbs of Riverview, or Putney, vote.

    I didn’t put the Lane Cove independents in the same basket as Labor and the Greens – I was just pointing out that 6-3 is not normally termed a split anything in political terms (US Supreme Court perhaps) – its a clear majority. Maybe it won’t last – the Liberal’s will certainly be doing their best, when they are not fighting with each other around here.

  22. Yoh An, I live in Michelle Garrard’s ward. The idea that she is “left-leaning” is ridiculous. OLC are very much the right wing party in both Parramatta and Cumberland now.

  23. Are NSW local election results really relevant to a federal or even state context? Or just mere speculation?

  24. More to the point of discussion is how can any Liberal candidate be treated seriously when they only have 5 weeks to campaign after being preselected? They are so disorganised they deserve to lose.

  25. Apologies Ben, I thought OLC was founded by Paul Garrard who was formerly a Labor member. Although he and other OLC councillors (some of whom are Labor defectors) could be from the ‘right’ or business friendly faction of the Labor party and hence are considered more centre right.

  26. The elder Garrard was a Labor member many years ago but that doesn’t necessarily tell you what positioning the party is now. Their former Cumberland mayor Steve Christou was also a rat but has very much acted as a right-wing mayor. Three out of the first ten PMs were ex-Labor conservatives, it’s got a long history.

  27. Yeah, agree with you Ben on the nature of so called ‘party switching’ politicians. In fact, Billy Hughes was a high profile Labor MP who switched to the conservative side (forming the Nationalist Party, a precursor to today’s Liberal Party and continuing to serve as PM).

  28. Labor seems to have a lot of these party switching politicians who move to the conservative side, the Coalition side doesn’t seem to have many MP’s who switched to Labor. This is similar to the US, there are more Democrats who have switched to the Republican Party (most of them representing Deep South states who switched following the passage of voting rights’ legislation in the 1960s and 70s) compared to Republicans who have switched to the Democratic Party.

  29. Still notable that there is no Liberal (or Labor) candidate here yet to replace John Alexander.

    With the clustershow that is happening with the Libs NSW branch, they are at risk of losing it if preselections are not finalised soon. I think the margin is a lot narrower suggesting a strong personal vote for John Alexander.

  30. Neither Labor nor the Greens have a candidate for Bennelong. Are the ALP waiting for the Libs?
    The Greens website has very few candidates for NSW seats listed – what is going on there? Especially as they effectively have full slates of candidates in the other states?

  31. The NSW Greens are a little bit different to the rest of the Greens in that they may well have candidates preselected but not on the main AG website. There might be some pages on FB that might help with finding them (esp. Chetan Sahai and Rachael Jacobs in Grayndler and Sydney)

  32. I have spoken to the leader of the opposition about it. He did play his cards very close to his chest. He certainly gave me the impression he has not given up on the seat.

  33. According to Humans of Eastwood Facebook page, Libs have nominated former Epping Boys student and McKinsey Partner, Simon Kennedy, as their candidate for Bennelong.
    This follows a 4 hour pre-selection at the Epping Club.
    To be honest, this guy came out of nowhere and I don’t think is the best electoral choice for the Libs. Both Craig Chung and Gisele Kapterian would’ve put a more modern face on the Liberal party.
    Having said that Rank and File beats parachuting candidates.
    Will be interesting to see what comes of Parramatta’s preselection given Labor has show their hand. There is the potential for some of these contenders to move across to the neighbouring seat to put their hand up.
    Also now Labor will need to counter this nomination in Bennelong. Knowing Labor logic they’ve probably made overtures to someone like Leigh Sales, à la Maxine McKew, especially now she has free time on her hands.
    Above all this election has been defined by poor candidate selection by both parties, across a range of seats.

  34. *Jerome Laxale (ex-mayor of Ryde)
    The SMH reports they’ve given Concetta Fierravanti-Wells the boot, which is interesting considering we all assumed Jim Molan would be retiring given his cancer and all that.

  35. In late 2019, Jerome Laxale was referred to ICAC when he was mayor of Ryde. News reports of this seemed to peter out. Was it ever resolved?

  36. Niki Savva included this in seats that liberal insiders apparently are “deeply concerned” about in her recent article, coincidentally the day Josh Frydenburg is in the seat campaigning. I wonder if this seat is a bit of a sleeper given Alexander’s retirement and the fact morrison isn’t very popular in city electorates. Would still expect a liberal retain but interesting nonetheless

  37. And as I wrote the above I see Albanese is also in the seat with the Labor candidate. Both sides internal polling must be picking up something, might be one to watch on election night.

  38. Well the Liberals have chosen a dud candidate who is virtually unknown and coupled with Alexander’s retirement and anger towards the Morrison government among the Chinese community, in the seat with the largest Chinese population in the entire country, there could potentially be a large swing. Unlike in Chisholm, the Liberals don’t have an ethnic Chinese candidate to possibly blunt the swing.

  39. Not selecting Chung was foolish on the Libs part.
    However, I don’t think it will be enough to swing the seat considering Jerome Laxale has his own baggage entering the race.
    Sportsbet paying out $3.20 for a Labor Bennelong win, which is not bad odds but may fluctuate in the last week, depending on performance.

  40. Going through Eastwood there are a few Simon Kennedy signs in front of a shop and none for Jerome Laxale.

  41. I do think the Libs should have chosen either Chung or Gisele Kapterian. There is a large Armenian community in this seat as well so Kapterian may have been a good fit. Bennelong, while being almost identical to Chisholm in many respects, is a stronger as it does not include less affluent areas like Chisholm does south of the Monash. So while it maybe close i dont think it will fall.

  42. There have been so many preselections this election from both major parties that just make you think, “Are they trying to lose?”.

  43. Bennelong Ballot Draw confirmed:
    1. John August (Fusion)
    2. Tony Adams (Greens)
    3. Dougal Cameron (???)
    4. Simon Kennedy (Liberal)
    5. Rhys Ian Collier (UAP)
    6. Victor Waterston (???)
    7. Jerome Laxale (Labor)
    8. Kyinzom Dhongdue (Democractic Alliance)

  44. @Hawkeye_Au – Dougal Cameron (LDP) and Victor Waterson (PHON). Which is interesting here is the TNL not making it with a candidate despite still mentioning on their website of Eric Zhang. I wondered what happened here. Seems there’s been a few changes like that with the minor/micro parties. For Bennelong, despite being an open seat, I’ll take a call as LIB retain with reduced margin to say 2% on 2CP. My interest here and random punt, is DPDA to get 4th place and their deposit back.

  45. Simon Kennedy’s admission he will cross the floor over vax mandates will find him in a pickle here in a seat with a highly education and highly vaccinated population. Also, a lot of elderly voters in the seat will not take too well to this. Agree that he is a dud candidate and his preselection was probably more down to factional drama rather than letting the best quality candidate win.

  46. Simon Kennedy does not deserve to win this seat – his actions and prior experience demonstrate this.

    Participating in an anti-vaxxer rally whilst seeking to represent an area which is highly educated, respects law and order and values safety is not a good look.

    And arguably his prior experience at McKinsey can’t be seen as a positive in terms of economic management , given its reputation for cost reduction and transformation programs that end up adding more cost into the business (at a substantial fee to McKinsey)

    Whilst Jerome Laxale may appear to be a political opportunist at times, and enjoys a bit of self promotion – his dedication and commitment to the community is without doubt, as are his core personal values.

    He is the far better candidate being presented to Bennelong this election.

  47. It’s too late to replace him with another candidate so the Liberals are stuck with him until the election. The Liberals won’t disendorse him as they hold the seat. Labor should put a lot more effort in this seat to at least give the Liberals a really good scare and possibly flip it though I doubt that will happen as the 6.9% margin may be too much.

  48. Liberals are obviously taking this seat very seriously, volunteers handing out for Simon Kennedy at Eastwood Station today.


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