Fairfield council election, 2021

The City of Fairfield covers parts of western Sydney, including Fairfield, Cabramatta, Canley Vale, Bonnyrigg, Mount Pritchard, Edensor Park, Bossley Park, Wetherill Park.

Fairfield has a population of approximately 203,000 people (as of 2014), which makes it the ninth most populous council in New South Wales. Fairfield is the third most populous NSW council to be elected in September 2016.

Wards
Fairfield will be divided up into two wards, with each ward electing six councillors. The council also directly elects a mayor, adding up to a total of thirteen councillors.

The Fairfield/Cabravale ward covers the eastern half of the council, including Cabramatta, Cabramatta West, Canley Heights, Canley Vale, Carramar, Fairfield, Fairfield East, Fairfield Heights, Lansvale, Mount Pritchard.

The Parks ward covers the western half of the council, including Abbotsbury, Bonnyrigg, Bonnyrigg Heights, Bossley Park, Edensor Park, Fairfield West, Greenfield Park, Horsley Park and Wetherill Park.

Redistribution
The council was previously divided into three wards: Cabravale, Fairfield and Parks. Each ward elected four councillors.

Cabravale ward was previously centred on Cabramatta and Canley Vale. All of it except Wakeley was moved into Fairfield/Cabravale.

Fairfield ward was centred on the suburb of Fairfield and the neighbouring suburbs with “Fairfield” in their name. Fairfield West was moved to Parks, with the remainder moved into Fairfield/Cabravale.

Parks ward was left alone and gained extra areas from the other two previous wards. Generally it covered the suburbs to the west.

Incumbent mayor
Frank Carbone (Independent)

Incumbent councillors

CabravaleFairfieldParks
Peter Grippaudo (Liberal) Paul Azzo (Liberal) Ninos Khoshaba (Labor)
Dai Le (Independent) Del Bennett (Labor) Joe Molluso (Liberal)
Kien Ly (Labor) Charbel Saliba (Ind) Andrew Rohan (Ind)
Adrian Wong (Labor) Anita Tadic-Kazi (Labor) Sera Yilmaz (Labor)

History
Fairfield has been historically dominated by Labor. Labor has lost a seat at each of the last three elections, ultimately culminating in Labor losing its majority at the 2016 election.

Labor’s Nick Lalich won the mayoralty in 2004, and Labor also won eight out of twelve council seats, giving the party over two thirds of the council. The Liberal Party won three seats, and the remaining seat was won by the Unity Party.

Labor held on to a comfortable majority in 2008, losing one of their eight council seats. Labor held seven seats, the Liberal Party four, and independent Nhan Tran one. Lalich won a second term as mayor, shortly before winning the state seat of Cabramatta at the 2008 by-election.

In 2012, the Liberal Party decided not to contest the Fairfield council elections, although a number of Liberal candidates contested the election as independents, including multiple sitting councillors. Unofficial Liberal independents won four seats on the council, while Labor won six. The remaining two seats were won by independent Nhan Tran and the Unity Party. Labor’s Frank Carbone won the mayoralty, giving Labor a slim majority.

Carbone broke with his party before the 2016 election, and formed a loose independent alliance with Liberal Party member and councillor Dai Le, former Liberal state MP Andrew Rohan and another Liberal independent in Charbel Saliba. Both Carbone and Le contested the mayoralty, polling 46% between them. Carbone ended up winning the mayoralty by just 233 over Labor’s Del Bennett.

Labor won six out of twelve council seats, against three independents (not counting Carbone as mayor) and three Liberals. This left Labor short of a majority for the first time in many years.

The partisan balance on the council has been fluid under Carbone’s independent mayoralty. Labor won the deputy mayoralty unopposed in 2017 and 2018, after Liberals supported a Labor deputy mayor in 2016. The deputy mayoral election in 2019 and 2020 saw Liberals defeat Labor candidates with independent support.

Candidate summary
Watch this space.

Assessment
The 2016 Fairfield council election was one of the most interesting results, with former Labor and Liberal politicians forming a new third party.

It will be interesting to see whether this alliance holds in 2021 or fades away. A return to the two-party divide would likely see Labor regain power. They only need to win the mayoralty and hold their six seats to win a majority, and Carbone only narrowly held on in 2016.

But the change to the voting system would make it harder for Labor to win those six seats on their current vote, if Carbone and Le can hold on to the middle ground on the council.

2016 council election result

PartyVotes%SwingSeats won
Labor 37,20345.01-0.46
Independents17,07720.66+8.13
Liberal 15,29718.51-6.13
Christian Democrats8,1089.81+7.2
Greens 4,9716.01-2.2
Informal25,63523.67

2016 mayoral election result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Del Bennett Labor 32,00431.31-14.1
Frank CarboneIndependent29,68329.04+29.0
Dai LeIndependent17,31916.95+17.0
Joe Molluso Liberal 13,01812.74+3.8
Milan MaksimovicChristian Democrats6,9446.79-0.6
Bill Cashman The Greens 3,2343.16-5.4
Informal6,3315.83

2016 mayoral election two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%
Frank CarboneIndependent38,08350.15
Del Bennett Labor 37,85049.85
Exhausted26,269

Vote breakdown by ward
The following tables show the vote in each ward before and after the recent redistribution, for council and for mayor.

At the 2016 election, Labor topped the poll in all three wards, with a vote ranging from 34.7% in Parks to 44.3% in Fairfield. The ticket of Carbone, Le and Saliba came second, with a vote ranging from 14.4% in Fairfield (Saliba) to 31.2% in Parks (Carbone).

The Liberal vote ranged from 9.5% in Cabravale to 20.4% in Parks. There was over a quota of votes for others, including Greens, independents and the Christian Democrats, in Cabravale and Fairfield wards.

Carbone and Le both stood for mayor, collectively accumulating a larger vote than their combined ticket did for council. This was partly the result of a big drop in the Labor vote. Labor did 12% worse on the mayoral ballot in the Fairfield ward.

Carbone topped the primary vote in his home ward of Parks, with Labor topping the primary vote in Cabravale and Fairfield. Le’s vote was highest in Cabravale, with the Liberal vote highest in Parks.

The redistribution has abolished one ward, with major changes to the entire structure. Wards will now elect six councillors, rather than four, so the quota has dropped to about 14.3%, down from 20%.

Labor’s vote is higher in Fairfield/Cabravale, and is probably enough to win three seats there. They would likely win two in Parks too, but it might be harder to get to 42.9% there. That is one seat less than their current six.

The Carbone/Le ticket polled 27.4% in Parks and 21% in Fairfield/Cabravale. That’s probably enough for two seats in Parks and one seat in the other ward, which is the same as their current numbers.

The Liberal Party currently holds three seats but their 2016 vote was not high enough to win more than one seat in either ward on the new structure.

The new lowered quota may open space for other parties or independents to win seats.

Council results by 2016 ward

WardALP %LIB %C/L %OTH %
Cabravale37.89.526.526.3
Fairfield44.317.914.423.4
Parks34.720.431.213.6

Mayoral results by 2016 ward

WardALP %Carbone %Le %LIB %
Cabravale34.425.322.89.2
Fairfield32.030.214.612.7
Parks27.731.513.616.2

Council results by 2021 ward

WardALP %LIB %C/L %OTH %
Fairfield/Cabravale41.112.421.125.4
Parks36.519.827.416.3

Mayoral results by 2021 ward

WardALP %Carbone %Le %LIB %
Fairfield/Cabravale34.625.920.410.0
Parks27.832.413.215.6

Election results at the 2016 Fairfield City Council election
Toggle between primary votes for Labor, independent candidates, the Liberal Party and the Greens.

Election results at the 2016 Fairfield City Council mayoral election
Toggle between primary votes for Del Bennett, Frank Carbone, Dai Le and Joe Molluso.

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