Penrith council election, 2021

The City of Penrith covers suburbs in outer western Sydney, including Penrith, St Marys, Werrington, Claremont Meadows, Kingswood, Erskine Park, Jamisontown, Glenmore Park, Leonay and Londonderry.

The council has a population of approximately 213,000 people, as of 2019.

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

East ward covers Kingswood, St Marys, Orchard Hills, Claremont Meadows, St Clair, Erskine Park and Kemps Creek.

North ward covers parts of the Penrith CBD and Emu Plains, along with Emu Heights, Cambridge Park, Cambridge Gardens, Werrington, Llandilo, Cranebrook, Berkshire Park and Londonderry.

South ward covers southern parts of the Penrith CBD, as well as Leonay, Jamisontown, Glenmore Park, South Penrith, Orchard Hills, Mulgoa and Wallacia.

Incumbent councillors

East North South
Bernard Bratusa (Liberal) Marcus Cornish (Independent) Jim Aitken (Independent)
Todd Carney (Labor) Kevin Crameri (Independent) Mark Davies (Liberal)
Greg Davies (Labor) Aaron Duke (Labor) Joshua Hoole (Liberal)
Tricia Hitchen (Liberal) Ross Fowler (Liberal) Karen McKeown (Labor)
Ben Price (Labor) John Thain (Labor) Kath Presdee (Labor)

History
Penrith has traditionally been one of the more marginal councils in Western Sydney. While Labor has usually held the mayoralty, Labor’s time in office has been regularly interrupted by Liberals and independents.

Labor dominated the council from 1991 until 1995, and the 1995-1999 council was mostly ruled by Liberals and independents. Labor did better in the 1999-2004 council.

The 2004 election saw Labor win seven seats, the Liberal Party four, and four other seats were held by independents. The council was governed by an alliance of Labor and independent councillor Jackie Greenow, with Greenow serving as mayor for a year and Labor councillors serving for the remaining three and a half years.

Labor and Liberal drew even in 2008, with each party winning six seats, and the last three seats were won by independent councillors Greenow, Crameri and Aitken.

The council was governed from 2008 to 2012 by an alliance of the Liberal Party’s six councillors, along with independents Jim Aitken and Kevin Crameri. Aitken and Crameri each served as mayor for a year, followed by two years by Greg Davies.

The Liberal Party was split into two factions, and in 2012 the state party decided to not endorse candidates for Penrith council. Independent tickets ran, with at least two groups including Liberals running in each ward. Despite the division, the Liberal Party maintained their six seats. The three independents were re-elected, along with four Labor councillors. The last two seats, previously held by Labor, were won by candidates running for the Greens and the far-right Australia First party.

The existing alliance of the Liberal Party, Aitken and Crameri was renewed in 2012, with Liberal Party councillors Mark Davies and Ross Fowler each serving a year. The Liberal councillors had agreed to hand over the mayoralty in 2014, with the two independents each serving a year.

Instead the alliance was broken. Five of the six Liberal councillors sided with the four Labor councillors. Ross Fowler was elected mayor for a second term, and in 2015 Labor councillor Karen McKeown became the first Labor mayor in seven years.

Labor did well in 2016, winning seven seats, along with five Liberals and three independents.

Labor and Liberal have shared the mayoralty since 2016. Labor’s John Thain held the job from 2016 to 2018, followed by Liberal Ross Fowler, and then in 2020 Labor’s Karen McKeown. Each party would take the deputy mayoralty when they did not hold the mayoralty.

These results were unopposed in the first year but have generally faced taken opposition from two or three of the independents at leadership elections since 2017.

Candidate summary
Watch this space.

Assessment
Labor are just one seat away from a majority on the council. If they could win a third seat in either the north or south ward that would clinch the majority.

But their vote in those areas was down in the 30s – it would need to be a lot higher to win that seat, which would require a major decline in the independent vote or a big swing against the Liberal Party.

2016 results

PartyVotes%SwingSeats won
Labor 40,81840.72+13.57
Liberal 30,47530.40-1.05
Independents18,40618.36-11.53
Greens 7,8677.85+2.0
Christian Democrats1,7321.73-0.2
Liberal Democrats9500.95+1.0
Informal6,9416.48

Vote breakdown by ward
The following table shows the vote in each ward.

Labor topped the poll in all three areas, polling around the mid-30s in the north and south wards, and 54% in the east.

The Liberal vote was around 27-29% in the north and south, and 36% in the east.

Both major parties polled more in the east because of the absence of strong independents, who polled 26-28% in the north and south wards.

WardALP %LIB %IND %GRN %
East54.335.70.010.0
North35.228.627.88.4
South33.127.126.65.3

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

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This area isn’t swinging to Labor anytime soon and neither is the federal seat of Lindsay which I expect will see a big swing to Melissa McIntosh at the next election

    I find it odd that Labor is teamed up with the Liberals here considering the independents hold the balance of power, Very rare in politics

    The Liberal party could gain a few seats and become the largest party. Do they continue their alliance with Labor or do they seek independent support assuming the independents win again?

  2. Western Sydney is trending towards the Liberals as shown by them winning seats such as Penrith and Mulgoa on the state level and Lindsay on the federal level. If the national/state political environment is exceptionally favourable to Labor then there could be a swing to them. Personally I do expect a swing to Melissa McIntosh at the next election if the environment stays at it is, but not a big swing as I don’t expect a drastic shift in Western Sydney. I expect a gradual shift if there is one. In the council elections I expect a swing toward the Liberals although I doubt they’ll hold an absolute majority and a coalition will be required.

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