Hughes – Australia 2022

LIB 9.8%

Incumbent MP
Craig Kelly (IND), since 2010.

Hughes covers southern parts of Sydney. Most of the seat lies in the Sutherland Shire, including Menai, Bangor, Sutherland, Como, Jannali, Illawong, Barden Ridge, Engadine, Heathcote, Waterfall and Bundeena. The remainder of the seat lies at the southeastern end of the City of Liverpool, including Moorebank and Wattle Grove.

Hughes was first created in 1955 and has been held by the ALP for much of its history despite generally covering relatively affluent areas that would usually be thought of as more favourable to the Liberals. Its first MP was Les Johnson, who held the seat for Labor until he was defeated in the 1966 landslide by the Liberal Party’s Don Dobie. Dobie transferred to the newly created seat of Cook in 1969, and Johnson regained Hughes for the ALP, going on to serve as a minister in the Whitlam government.

Johnson resigned in December 1983, and was succeeded at a by-election by Robert Tickner, who went on to serve a high-profile tenure as Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs from 1990 until losing his seat when the Keating government lost office in 1996.

Danna Vale won the seat for the Liberals in 1996 and held the seat for the next five terms.

Vale retired in 2010 and Liberal candidate Craig Kelly won the seat, increasing the Liberal margin to 5.2%. Kelly has been re-elected three times.

Kelly resigned from the Liberal Party in February 2021 to sit as an independent, although he has continued to support the government on confidence and supply.


Hughes has shifted to become safer in recent, despite a history as a key marginal seat. It’s unlikely Labor would have won this seat if not for the Kelly independent candidacy. It seems most likely that Kelly will fall short and that the new Liberal candidate will win (if Kelly even runs), but his candidacy would open up a wider range of possible outcomes, including the potential for independent Georgia Steele.

2019 result

Craig Kelly Liberal 50,76353.2+1.2
Diedree Steinwall Labor 29,08830.5-1.4
Mitchell Shakespeare Greens 6,6316.9-0.4
Gae ConstableAnimal Justice2,4392.6-1.4
Terrance KeepUnited Australia Party2,3662.5+2.5
Leo-Ning LiuChristian Democratic Party2,2162.3-2.5
Matt BryanIndependent1,9882.1+2.1

2019 two-party-preferred result

Craig Kelly Liberal 57,14959.8+0.5
Diedree Steinwall Labor 38,34240.2-0.5

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into four parts. The majority of the population is in the urban parts of Sutherland Shire, and these booths have been split into “east” (including Como, Jannali and Sutherland) and “central” (including Menai).

Engadine, Waterfall, Bundeena and Heathcote have been grouped as “south”, while the booths in the Liverpool council area are grouped as “north-west”.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all four areas, ranging from 54.8% in the south to 66.9% in the centre.

Voter groupLIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes61.610,36910.9

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

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  1. Ben
    Just an annoying nitpick. But i can’t help myself. Shouldn’t Hughes be grouped with indecent, sorry independent seats !? . I know it won’t last, & Kelly has no chance…..but…!!

  2. Nope, Hughes is a Liberal seat, even if it’s held by an independent. That’s consistent with how I have always treated these seats.

  3. Alright.

    i’m guessing that he has to win an election as an indie to change things.

    It would be cute to imply something along the lines that Zali should have to beat someone other than Tony wouldn’t it ….!? For Warringah not to be a Lib seat too , that is !?

  4. This along with Cook,North Sydney and Bennelong were the 4 seats I had swinging Labor before but due to recent polling my confidence of a coalition victory have decreased so that tally is probably above 10 now.

    Kelly is not a Peter Slipper. He will win more than 5% I predict he could easily get 15-20%. Unfortunately he is well known in Hughes and unlike slipper he has not had a major scandal. There is a chance Labor wins the primary vote here but loses the seat due to Kelly’s preferences heavily going to his former party.

    Or the Liberals could give him a free run here because why not? He is guaranteed to back them in a vote of confidence anyway. Chances are though Kelly changes his mind and retires and in that case there will be little primary vote swings here.

  5. Demographic change here. Menai area strong liberal. other areas like Engadine Sutherland Como Jannalli tend to be trending away from Labor. but alp has won the state seat of Miranda when Barry Collier was the candidate. If Kelly stands
    as a ind then the impact is unknown. There are already ind forces.. Voices of.. Who don’t want Kelly

  6. @Mick Quinlivan

    “If Kelly stands as a ind then the impact is unknown.”

    What do you consider to be “unknown”? I would imagine the overwhelming majority of Kelly’s voters (should he run as an independent) would be otherwise Liberal voters, and preference the Liberal candidate above Labor.

  7. My guess would be that without the long Sydney lockdown Kelly would have been lucky to get his deposit back. Now, if he runs, he could draw an anti-lockdown vote that would have been voting mainly Liberal before.

  8. The seat next door to mine. Kelly will probably get between 5 – 10% of the vote if he’s lucky and most of his preferences will go to the Libs anyway. Labor have no chance here; the outer-suburban character of the Shire part of the seat won’t find Albanese particularly appealing.

  9. Wreathy, Kelly is not doing that poorly. Do you know anything about Craig Kelly? He is getting more than 10%, He is not a Peter Slipper of Fisher or Michael Johnson of Ryan. What makes you think his fate will be like theirs? Sure Kelly won’t win but to say he is doing as bad as them is quite misleading and ludicrous.

    Trust me I don’t like the man at all but unfortunately allot of people (like!) what he says, Just like Palmer and Newman have supporters. Those people love Kelly. So yes he will do better than the 5-10% you suggest. More likely between 12-17% in reality. I agree his preferences will strongly flow to the Libs.

    I expect Kelly to run at the next state election but don’t expect it to be the Liberal party as they won’t pre-select him after his defection. Don’t be surprised if Kelly joins the Lib Dems like Newman did.

  10. Daniel, not only have I lived in this area my whole life, but I’ve actually worked for Craig Kelly in the past so yes, I know the man quite well. He’s always been a bit of an oddball – which is fine on contentious culture war issues. However, his bizzaro Covid contrarianism will not be popular here considering that the Shire has one of the highest first-dose vaccination rates in NSW.

    Further, he already performed relatively poorly in 2019 as an incumbent Liberal in an outer-suburban seat, particularly by NSW standards. That’s without even mentioning the extreme difficulty independents have getting votes after defecting from a major party. 10% will be his absolute maximum.

    I’m sure people may still support him, but how many of them live in Hughes?

  11. Johnson and Slipper are very different. Johnson got 8.49% mostly campaigning as a small-L-liberal while Slipper got 1.55% campaigning on his lack of a personal following. Kelly will get all the auth-right covid contrarians supporting him, but there’s not enough in Hughes to win him the seat or even get him to come second. If he does (to the Liberals anyway) he’ll get thumped on Labor preferences anyway. He couldn’t run for the Senate as the anti-lockdown no forced-vax conspiracy theorist, mainly because Pete Evans, Ross Cameron and to a lesser extent Barry Du Bois are already running. Liberal retain, not even close.

  12. Liberal gain, I honestly don’t think there is enough momentum for a independent in this area. Independent candidates are usually successful in the inner city or country side not in the outer metropolitan seats.

  13. @ Nicholas Weston…… my guess is the same as you….. but he is so odd and Contrary…. that the result may be different especially if the liberals campaign strongly against him… remember he does not have the numbers internally to win a liberal party preselection……

  14. Weird for me to think of this seat as outer metropolitan, even though I’m well aware that the Sutherland Shire is the southernmost extent of Greater Sydney. I’m unfamiliar with the southern half of Sydney, so my sense of scale is distorted. In my time in Sydney I’ve only ever lived between 25km and 45km away from the CBD, and I’ve always been able to convince myself that I’m “middle-distance” because it’s a long way out to Penrith!

  15. Interesting indeed. You can expect that Palmer will absolutely pour money into the campaign here, so I guess Kelly will do at least reasonably well. Hard to see him getting out of third though.

  16. With an MP in tow, Clive will not need to satisfy any of the membership requirements for party status. How many rank and file members beyond Clive and his family do the UAP actually have?

  17. Not sure how long it has been there, but Clive now has Billy Hughes on his website as a former UAP Prime Minister. Is this meant to be some sort of subliminal message?

    BTW Clive, Hughes was an ALP and Nationalist PM, never UAP. Though he did lead the UAP in their 1943 death throes.

  18. @redistributed

    Even if the Liberals get there 1500 party membership minimum to register a party bill through parliament. It doesn’t stop wealthy parties giving members free memberships. Clive Palmer can certainly find a way to get around it.


    I agree I doubt Craig Kelly will make the final two party preferred vote. The Kelly/Palmer marriage has already got off to a rocky start. Kelly has claimed he soley will be deciding United Australia party policy which Palmer has already rebutted. Palmer has had federal senators, QLD state mps, and CLP northern territory politicians join his party and quit. I can’t see this ending any different.

  19. Heck, even some decidedly not-wealthy parties are happy to have pay-what-you-want memberships. (I should know, I’m in one.)

    It seems like Labor will be supporting the bill 🙁 From their perspective they wouldn’t have a lot to lose: the centre-left small parties eat away at their Senate vote — and as a stretch goal they might even be able to get rid of the DLP.

  20. I don’t expect it to be the final count, but I’m very curious to see what a 2CP between Kelly and Labor would look like. I assume the Liberals will preference Kelly ahead of Labor. It would be so striking to be able to say that a majority of Hughes voters prefer Kelly on his own merits (and perhaps that of Clive Palmer) over Labor. The Sutherland Shire is a scary place.

  21. Melanie Gibbons to resign from state parliament to stand for Liberal preselection in Hughes.

    If she is the candidate she can, and will will the seat, however the state seat could fall back to Labor at the by-election as it is a 3.3% margin and will miss her personal vote, however I don’t expect any problems her being elected as the member for Hughes.

  22. None of Holsworthy, Bega or Monaro are necessarily a sure thing for the Libs in a by election. And that doesn’t include possible forced vacancies in Drummoyne or Kiama. The L/NP would have a lot more seats than Labor in any of these scenarios unless all the seats were lost. The government would then be dependent on all of the cross bench dogs and cats. My question is – what is the mechanism under the fixed term rules should the parliament become unworkable and there is no alternative but an election? How does a new date get fixed going forward?

  23. If the Constitution (Fixed Term Parliaments) Special Provisions Act hasn’t been repealed, the way I read it is that the Governor has the power to dissolve state parliament if the government fails a confidence vote or fails to pass an appropriation bill.

    Incidently Holsworthy is the most vulnerable seat to be vacated yet, just going by the 2pp: 53.29/46.71.

  24. Ah the liberals have drafted their own “plough horse”. Gibbons appearance is somewhat similar to most of the “emily’s lister” ALP women. Her partner & father of her child is the infamous Kent Johns. My comment about this is that “political couples” cause me considerable discomfort. The whole concept is unlikeable, suspicious , & narrowly focused, if not inwardly focused.

    Ironically IIRC Johns would now be the current MP for Hughes were it not for the direct intervention by the PM in the last pre selection.

    I would be overjoyed if Gibbons lost to ANYONE. Won’t happen though

  25. When the election comes around, I suspect Craig Kelly will be the Liberal party candidate in Hughes and Melanie Gibbons will be Liberal Party candidate in Banks.

  26. Possible, but unlikely if Craig Kelly continues to maintain his views against covid vaccinations. He would still be seen as a pariah figure and would not be welcome back to the Liberal Party.

  27. Also Banks still has a sitting Liberal member in David Coleman, who returned from leave last year I believe. He would have first choice for nomination should he wish to run for re-election.

  28. Ben Raue
    I agree completely. That proposition is as bizarre as Mark Latham leading the ALP to the next election. Mind you that might work…..!

  29. Craig Kelly won’t win but he could still get a decent size of the vote (15%) I wouldn’t compare him to Slipper or Jonhson. Never underestimate Craig Kelly.

  30. Ryan Spencer
    That isn’t one of my fears !. The Greens would have to break the “political nexus” (to even begin to make that happen). And if they managed that they wouldn’t be the Greens (anymore) !.
    thanks for the thought, it provided an insight (for me)
    cheers wd

  31. None of Holsworthy, Bega or Monaro are necessarily a sure thing for the Libs in a by election.


    I know this discussion is on the seat of Hughes. I will add that it was reported in SMH that Labor leader Chris Minns has said Labor “needs to consider whether to run in Holsworthy”, having “already suggested to his shadow cabinet that they should not run a candidate in Monaro or Bega”. Despite Gladys Berejiklian resignation NSW state Labor polling must be still travelling poor at the moment.

  32. Corporate litigator Georgia Steele has announced her intention to run as an independent in this seat. Craig Kelly having money to burn and expected Liberal candidate Melanie Gibbons probably having resources may make it tough to get her messege across in this seat as an independent.

    Unlike Indi and Warringah where the non-Liberal side of politics can gang up together via preferences. It may make it more complex here with Kelly being a UAP mp.

  33. Unlike Warringah, Indi or even Mayo, there is a significant Labor vote especially in the suburbs along the Railway line away from Water views (like Sutherland itself) so i still expect Labor to still come second on the Primary vote. Also unlike the three previously mentioned seats i don’t see Labor supporters tactically voting for Craig Kelly. This seat came close to being won by Labor in 2007 and the area until 2011 at a state level was held by Labor.

  34. I will not vote for liberal, labor, greens or Craig Kelly or any independent.
    Liberal, labor and the greens are all anti australian and only doing what their political masters overseas eg: United nations and World Health Organisation tell them to. Liberal and labor appear to be different temporarily when an election rolls around. Both are left leaning with basically no difference. Greens just want to close the country down so they can rebuild it in their way. Labor has turned into the greens and liberal have turned into labor. They all seem pro everybody else and basically stuff Australia.
    If there is a candidate for One Nation I will be voting for them.

  35. Georgia Steele is the ‘Voices of Hughes’ (or equivalent) candidate. She is a lawyer. Her opening campaign video is pretty excellent but it is focussing on running against Craig Kelly, not the LNP. Given that the LNP will no doubt have a candidate as well as Kelly as an independent this could be a very strange race. Steele could probably get 10%, and Kelly maybe another 10%. This may be a really weird preference contest that will probably end up electing LNP.

  36. @Ryan Spencer

    You would never hear Labor politicians today talking like this about taxation and the economy – bragging about reducing the rate of the top income tax bracket, reducing corporate tax, eliminating regulation, eliminating tariffs, privatising assets, and cutting spending in regional areas.

  37. I know it was reported in the Guardian the view is Craig Kelly will likely accept the inevitable. That he is no chance in this seat and will run for the senate instead.

    It was reported another independent Linda Seymour, has announced her canidacy. For independent canidate Georgia Steele that will make it difficult. From what it was reported Steele and Seymour were involved with the same grassroots community movement and Steele left and announced her own canidacy. Steele does have the backing from a separate Hughes community movement. However you can’t afford to have two competing independent canidates its going to splinter voter.

    Liberals retain.

  38. If the UAP and ON and the other right cave dwellers can maintain their rage until May, then they can be a real threat as they may be able to mobilise their supporters for canvassing and HTV cards. The latter are important as it seems a sizeable % of the population don’t make up their mind until they go to vote or vote in line with the HTV they are given. Craig Kelly might have a reasonable chance in the senate vote. #5 and #6 senate seat in NSW might be tight between Libs, Greens and the assorted far Right.

  39. Trust me when I saw booth presence is over rated when it comes to voting.

    There is some impact, but don’t over rate it. One example I can think of when Eweb Jones didn’t man one of his booths and he lost Herbert by a handful of votes. Having booth workers at that booth probably saves the seat. It’s not going to shift 3% or 4% of the vote.

    I’ve also seen major parties drop from 4 people booth teams to solo shifts with no significant impact.

    I think the vast majority of voters are either one of the following:

    1. Have pre-determined what way they vote before they turn up

    2. Even if they are not politically engaged and hadn’t thought about it before eturning up, the decision in the booth isn’t decided by what the booth workers say or whose sign has the best spot outside. It’s more a case of the Give a few seconds thought while in the line about how the current government has performed based on very random criteria from major policy to an issue that is personal to them to if they like how the Leader looks on TV.

    From what I’ve seen there is even less impact on the minor parties.

    For example at a recent election One Nation pulled 24% at a booth in my seat with three workers their all day. They also pulled 25% at the next booth down the road with no workers on it. Both booths similar demographics, so if booth workers meant much you would see it there.

    Minor party voters tend to have decided before the booth they don’t want a major party to have their vote. It’s not likely they turn up wanted to vote Labor or Liberal and suddenly the UAP convinces them at the booth.

  40. This and North Sydney would be in grave danger of falling to Labor a strong minor party perhaps Craig Kelly providing Labor puts him over the Liberals IF the 56-44 poll is correct. 58-42 to the ALP in NSW. This would be the largest TPP share since 1966 for any party if this occurs. It is unlikely to hold but if it does expect the coalition to lose 36 seats. 2 seats would also be in danger in SA for them if the poll is correct.

    Hughes stayed Liberal during 2007 but under these boundaries Labor would have won it during the Hawke years. Can Labor win this? If the polls stay the way they are absolutely but it will likely tighten. but expect this to be a marginal TPP contest whoever the Liberals face. preferences are absolutely key here.

  41. The biggest danger the Libs face is totally self inflicted – they don’t have an endorsed candidate. And reports suggest they will not until 31 March. Even then, my bets are on Craig Kelly coming a distant third. Nothing has ever suggested that he has built up a distinct local following. He also had a reputation as a very poor fundraiser – even if this time he has UAP largesse to assist.


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