Cook by-election, 2024

Cause of by-election
Sitting Liberal MP Scott Morrison has flagged that he will resign his seat at the end of February.

Margin – LIB 12.4%

Geography
Southern Sydney, Cook covers parts of the Sutherland Shire and the St George area. Suburbs in Sutherland include Cronulla, Sylvania, Miranda, Gymea, Caringbah and Taren Point. Suburbs in the St George area include Sans Souci, Ramsgate, Sandringham, Monterey, Beverley Park, Kogarah Bay, Kyle Bay and Blakehurst.

History

Cook was first created for the 1969 election. The suburbs around the current seat of Cook were first included in the seat of Illawarra from federation until the 1922 election, when it was transferred to Werriwa, when Werriwa was a large rural seat covering areas south of Sydney. The seat of Hughes was created in 1955, which was the first seat based in Sutherland. Cook was then created in 1969. This used the same name as an earlier seat based in inner Sydney, which had been a safe Labor seat before its abolition in 1955.

For the previous sixty years the seat covering Sutherland had been mostly held by the Labor Party, although Hughes was lost to Liberal candidate Don Dobie in 1966, and Cook has been held by the Liberals for most of its existence.

Dobie transferred to Cook in 1969, but was defeated by Labor’s Ray Thorburn in 1972. Thorburn was defeated by Dobie in 1975 and Dobie held the seat until his retirement in 1996.

Dobie was succeeded by Stephen Mutch, a member of the NSW upper house, in 1996, and Mutch was defeated for preselection by Bruce Baird in 1998. Baird had previously been a state MP and Minister for Transport from 1988 to 1995, as well as taking charge of Sydney’s Olympic big up to 1993.

Baird held the seat for nine years, during which time he developed a reputation as an independent-minded Liberal backbencher who was occasionally critical of the Howard government.

Baird announced his retirement at the 2007 election, and the Liberal preselection was originally won by Michael Towke. Towke’s preselection was overturned amid allegations of branch stacking in a controversial contest, and he was replaced by the former director of the NSW Liberal Party, Scott Morrison.

Morrison won the seat in 2007, and was re-elected five times. Morrison served as a senior minister in the coalition government from 2013 until he became Prime Minister in 2018. He then led the government to victory at the 2019 election.

Morrison continued to serve as Prime Minister until his government’s defeat the 2022 federal election.

Candidates

  • Vinay Kolhatkar (Libertarian)
  • Natasha Brown (Animal Justice)
  • Roger Woodward (Independent)
  • Martin Moore (Greens)
  • Simon Kennedy (Liberal)
  • Simone Francis Gagatam (Sustainable Australia)

Assessment
The Liberal Party should retain this seat at the by-election.

2022 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Scott Morrison Liberal 54,322 55.5 -8.2
Simon Earle Labor 24,444 25.0 +1.9
Catherine Dyson Greens 9,685 9.9 +3.1
Gaye Cameron One Nation 4,985 5.1 +1.6
Jacqueline Guinane United Australia 4,381 4.5 +3.3
Informal 4,498 4.4 FALSE

2022 two-party-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Scott Morrison Liberal 61,080 62.4 -6.6
Simon Earle Labor 36,737 37.6 +6.6

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into five parts named after key suburbs. All of the booths in the St George area have been grouped as “Sans Souci”. Those in the Sutherland Shire have been split between Sylvania in the north, Cronulla in the east, Gymea-Miranda in the south-west and Caringbah in the centre.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all five areas, ranging from 60.1% in Sans Souci to 68.2% in Sylvania.

The Greens came third, with a primary vote ranging from 10.9% in the south to 17.3% in the north-east.

Voter group GRN prim % LIB 2PP % Total votes % of votes
Sans Souci 7.8 60.1 14,956 15.3
Gymea-Miranda 10.8 60.9 11,260 11.5
Caringbah 10.9 65.6 10,562 10.8
Cronulla 13.2 62.0 10,139 10.4
Sylvania 6.5 68.2 6,059 6.2
Pre-poll 9.5 62.7 31,673 32.4
Other votes 10.6 61.1 13,168 13.5

Election results in Cook at the 2022 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal Party, Labor and the Greens.

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116 COMMENTS

  1. Allegedly the Liberal mayor Carmelo Pesce will run for preselection. Simon Earle from Labor would be the natural choice for ALP candidacy given his extra strong performance in the overlapping seat of Miranda at the State Election. In an Earle v Pesce contest I can see the margin dropping substantially with a Liberal hold.

  2. Not that it would be directly comparable, but an overlap of the state primary and 2PP votes from Rockdale, Cronulla and Miranda would be interesting to see. Given the results in the state seats as well as the loss of priministerial incumbency (which would have been a factor in 2022) I can’t see a swing towards the Liberals. As @AMFS said, Simone Earle would be an obvious choice for Labor should they choose to stand, as he would have to have some name recognition given how many times he has stood.

  3. Looking at Rockdale’s state vote is probably the most important of the three state seats mentioned @Bajoc, given that Miranda and Cronulla were retained by the LP.

    The Rockdale 2023 state vote is completely inconsistent with the margins of the 2022 Cook federal vote. This has been a theme since 2015 in this area however, at the state level voting Labor and Federally voting Liberal. Compare the above map with the Rockdale results page on Pollbludger to see for yourself. It will be interesting to see whether Sans Souci, Sandringham and Ramsgate trend like they did at the state election.

  4. I know I am not putting anything new in here but this has to be the ultimate right-wing seat in Metropolitan Australia…

  5. It is relatively affluent and one of the most Anglo seats in Sydney while at the same time very socially conservative. That being said, the margins in the seat federally are inflated by Morrison’s high profile. Many of the booths in St George have Labor majorities at the state level, some with pretty big margins, and there were double digit swings to Labor in the state election for many booths in the area so there is potential for notable swing to Labor but it will not be enough to win.

  6. Agree Dan M
    It is unusual for an affluent anglo seat to be quite socially conservative on issues such as SSM. It also had a much higher no vote for the Voice than much poorer seats such as Fowler, Calwell, Blaxland, Watson etc. I think only Lindsay is more socially conservative but that is much less affluent than Cook and includes deprived areas. I dont think Labor will even bother at the by-election even it was held on the same day as the Aston by-election Labor would not have won and even if they had managed to get a win they would not be able to entrench themselves in this seat.

  7. Here we go again
    Yet another grubby self-serving politician breaking his word, & pretending the opposite.
    Absolutely disgusting
    If any, repeat any MP is elected they have made a contract with the voters to be a representative for the FULL term of the government.
    Breaking that contract to simply take a better job is utterly reprehensible, and unforgivable . There ought to be a consequence of the by election cost being extracted from the MP’s superannuation for Breach of Contract.
    No if’s buts, or maybe’s.
    I despise all politicians who are derelict in their duty -to our country, our people, and most especially to their own constituents.
    Morrison is condemned along with all others who have failed respect those that elected them.

  8. @paladin from what i understand its to spend more time with his family. the people of cook deserve a representative who will fight for them full time. and yes i agree with that but if there heart isnt in it anymore its better that they resign

  9. It’d be interesting to see if Labor runs here, they did extremely well in the seat of Miranda at the 2023 State Election and Cook takes in small parts of the seat of Kogarah which had a Labor Tsunami, If Labor does decide to run, I’d assume it’d be more to achieve a big swing rather than win.

  10. Liberals maybe looking for a young female candidate to replace ScoMo. Ward A Cr Marcelle Elzerman (the area the overlaps with Cook) could be the next candidate. According to senior party insiders and local powerbrokers, Cr Elzerman is considered a front runner for an upcoming preselection.

  11. Paladin. Any MP who resigns mid term at least will be replaced by a member who is elected by the voters at a by election. And they may need to carry the political responsibility (i.e. Alan Tudge in Aston) if their party does badly or loses the seat.
    I can understand your beef but in my opinion direct at senators who are elected for a six year term and can be replaced without any election – nothing! I know that this is the outcome of the 1977 same party changes. Personally, I would prefer to go back to the pre 1977 model where the seat of a long term serving senator comes up for reelection at the next election and the last senator elected serves a short term. We may be electing 7 or 8 senators. Then senators would be taking their six year term seriously.

  12. @WestSydPol Labor didn’t even win Miranda or Oatley (the Liberals retained both of those seats albeit marginally), which are both state seats overlapping with the federal seat of Cook. A lot of Cook is in the blue-ribbon state seat of Cronulla, which is Opposition Leader Mark Speakman’s seat. Kogarah and Rockdale do indeed overlap but not by much and the booths that door are the more Liberal ones.

  13. John
    Seriously !!??. If you were to make a pledge to 10s of thousands of people, wouldn’t it be from your heart, soul, the very core of your being. Yes it is something sacred a lot more than just a job, or contract . At least it would be for me. What is with all these excuses, and equivocation ?
    Why shouldn’t the useless mongrel finish his term / Job? just another 15 months max, who cares if he isn’t happy? It’s such a tough job (backbencher) serving your community for 200k+ a year. My arse bleeds for poor Scotty

    Redistributed
    No argument about senators. However my passion on the issue will indicate my order of priorities I remain Mystified as to the benefit you see in having to repeat the process of electing yet another mediocre MP ? Id be good with making the electorate have a appointed caretaker MP till the next election Preferably a runner up from the previous election !! Wouldn’t that be upsetting ?

  14. @paladin he always planned to leave parliament after the election was lost he was just waiting until he found another job

  15. In principle I agree with @paladin. To resign mid-term is disrespectful and dishonourable. It is a broken promise to tens of thousands of people, not to mention an unnecessary cost to taxpayers.

    On the other hand – If I entertain the thought of what if we forced such retirements to incur a financial penalty, I consider that an MP could just do the bare minimum for the remainder of their term, which wouldn’t be much. In this case, perhaps their constituents would want them to resign, or even be willing to force a recall if such provisions were available. Well, it was the voters who put him there in the first place! So I am also led to conclude that if you vote for a muppet, you can expect muppet behaviour, and it’s on you as the voter. In more cynical terms, one might say, “Serve the people of Cook right!” but that is a tad harsh. Maybe a levy should be imposed on the electors of Cook should be forced to pay for the by-election. (I’m kidding.)

  16. This man’s legacy will be that he has destroyed this country and not even a 10 year Labor government will fix the mess he created, good riddance he is going. Hopefully the Liberal party is now ready to move on from him and look to the future, Kudos to Bridget Archer for being the only “real” Liberal because she voted to Censure him.

    This will be like Fadden, swing to the LNP. Environment is less friendly to Labor than it was during Fadden.

  17. How much of the 2022 margin can be attributed to Morrison’s personal vote and status as Prime Minister? It’s hard to imagine this seat getting any safer.

  18. When looking at state election results, there were big double-digit swings in Miranda and the southern part of Kogarah (Chris Minns’s seat) but more modest swings in Cronulla and the southern part of Rockdale. The large swings in Kogarah may have been an uplift in Minns’s personal vote or a leader’s rally, whilst Miranda had a controversial Liberal MP.

    In the seat of Rockdale, from San Souci to Monterrey, the state Labor 2PP range from 56% to 75% but in Cook, it’s all solidly Liberal. There’s an unusally large gap between state Labor and federal Liberal suggesting that voters tend to give votes to the incumbent MP’s party.

    Fun fact – this is the only Liberal seat by the coast in NSW.

  19. Adam, well *technically* Hughes is now the only seat in NSW to have a coastal liberal MP since this seat of Cook is now vacant ROFL

  20. For some reason I thought the margin here was 19%, but that was 2019. At 12%, I agree that a swing to the Liberals is plausible.

  21. I forgot about Hughes. Yes, Hughes is coastal but Royal National Park separates the ocean from nearly all the voters. There’s a small population centre in the east in Bundeena but it doesn’t really face the ocean.

  22. @Daniel T the Nationals still have coastal seats (defining “coastal” as touching the coast as opposed to a bay) on the federal level (Cowper, Lyne and Page) and on the state level (Clarence, Coffs Harbour, Myall Lakes and Oxley). The state Liberals still have plenty of coastal seats (Cronulla, Manly, Pittwater, Port Macquarie, Terrigal and Vaucluse).

  23. 9 Fairfax reporting that the Liberal preselection favourites are Sutherland mayor Carmelo Pesce of the moderate faction, and former Bennelong candidate Simon Kennedy of the right faction.

  24. I think Labor should run here. Simone Earle has already expressed interest in running here, too. It would give them a litmus test before the big hurrah of the federal election, in a seat demographic they seem to not being doing *too* badly with. Most of the factors pertaining the seat – inc. state election results, loss of incumbency, reluctance on Labor’s part to plough ahead with policies that could be considered “left wing” – will help the ALP should they choose to run here. There might be an argument that the Libs might pick up some votes from voters disaffected with Morrison, but I think most of the disgust related to him eventuated after he left, with the uncovering of secret ministries, as if the many dozens of in-office blunders weren’t already enough. His popularity definitely tanked even after the loss of the election.

  25. Consider the fact that several seats held by recent former PMs eventually go to another party (Wentworth, Warringah, Griffith) it’s possible that the Coalition could lose the seat this year or within the next two election cycles

  26. @caleb those are inner city seats this won’t be falling anytime soon. In regards to a date I highly doubt we will see a date before late April due to Easter and school holidays

  27. @Caleb this isn’t an inner-city seat, it’s a blue-ribbon seat in the outer suburbs. This is the Cronulla-Sutherland area which is why Scomo is a big Sharks supporter (he’s their number-one ticket holder).

  28. Those bashing Scott Morrison for resigning mid-term should realise that this has been the norm for 40 years. Malcolm Fraser, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd as defeated PMs were all gone within a few months, ditto Malcolm Turnbull after losing the leadership in 2018. Menzies resigned his seat as well as the Prime Ministership in 1966 and Gough Whitlam quit once he lost the 1977 election and resigned as ALP leader.

  29. @jere,y the exception being Abbott. Even Gillard resigned after
    Owing the spill. Morrison always intended to resign he was just waiting until he found another job. Being apolitical isn’t a 9-5 job and it is very demanding and the abuse probably doesn’t help either

  30. I have mixed feelings about MPs who voluntarily resign mid-term. I do agree that it is a financial burden for taxpayers and a burden for voters who then have to go out and vote.

    There are valid reasons for resigning due to unforeseen circumstances like ill health. A valid reason in other circumstances is more debatable and subjective. Reasons may vary from personal choices to predictable circumstances (e.g. birth of a child, growing family) to wanting a career change or to retire from politics altogether. If a corrupt or criminal MP were to resign, the news of a by-election ironically will be welcomed.

    I also agree that a politician should last the full term where possible and by-elections should be minimised. It costs time and money to run one and I believe in having MPs who are dedicated and who seek to represent to the community’s interests for many, many years ahead. On the flipside, if they’re not motivated or determined and are in parliament to doze off and collect a pay cheque then perhaps another career would be more suited for them.

    As for Scott Morrison, he must be content with the golden handshake and a cushy job like many other ex-ministers have enjoyed.

  31. Yes, I agree that ex-PMs tend not to sit on the opposition backbench. I’m surprised Scott Morrison didn’t resign sooner but as you said John, he was waiting for the right job.

    Regarding Liberal preselection, I suppose Michael Towke won’t be running.

  32. Scheduling for March 23rd would pushing it. April is out as the two week campaign will coincide with Easter and the school holidays. May 14th is Budget Day. Labor may push for a by-election date in early May to avoid distractions and sidetracking, especially if they field a candidate.

    As for whether Labor runs, there’s arguments for and against. Obviously it’s a safe Liberal seat and there’s no way Labor will win. They also risk losing face if there’s a swing to the Liberals.

    I mentioned before that Labor won booths around Gymea and Miranda and Bayside suburbs (San Souci, Ramsgate etc) at the state election in 2023. Labor may want to do a litmus test pre-redistribution to see if they can pick up votes now that it’s a vacant seat. The seat may expand north or west, but it won’t make a big difference for Labor, unless it somehow expands all the way to Como and Hurstville.

  33. @votante March 23 Rd is out of the question. Morrison hasn’t resigned and doesn’t intend to until end of Feb. There won’t be enough time for a writ to be issued and selections etc. it needs a minimum 6 weeks notice i believe. That would be mid April at the earliest. And they won’t do then during school holidays/Easter it will be may at the earliest.

  34. Simon Kennedy, the anti-vax candidate who lost Bennelong in 2022 and lives in Maroubra which is neither in Bennelong nor Cook, has won preselection here. What an absolute joke of a candidate though he will win here.

  35. Simon Kennedy will be a shoo-in. Surprised that he won given he doesn’t live locally and he lost Bennelong following an 8% swing.
    Labor is undecided on whether to run.

  36. @votante that was due to the anti govt and Chinese swing. I imagine the redistribution will benefit bennelong and shift it east into liberal territory Labor has never held this seat longer then one term and I imagine that it will return to the libs

  37. Simon Kennedy must be doing something right to win by such a big margin. With his background, he may present very well – interesting to see if that extends to the voting punters of Cook

  38. Another Dud candidate, only cares about having a seat in parliament as he was parachuted to an area he has no connections with at all. But unfortunately he will “win” because this is an actual conservative liberal seat and not even an independent has a shot here.

    Libs have shot themselves in the foot and there will be a drop in the Liberal primary vote but nevertheless will be a safe retain

  39. @daniel t same with Jodie belyea and half the Labor party at least the liberals have a democratic vote Labor just insert their mates

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