The Hills council election, 2021

The Hills cover north-western suburbs of Sydney. The council stretches from Baulkham Hills in the south to Wisemans Ferry in the north, and also covers Castle Hill, Bella Vista, Kellyville, Glenhaven, Beaumont Hills, Annangrove, Kenthurst, Nelson and Maroota.

The council has a population of about 178,000 as of 2019.

Wards
The Hills is divided into four wards, with each ward electing three councillors.

Central ward covers northern parts of Kellyville and Kellyville North.

East ward covers eastern parts of Baulkham Hills, parts of West Pennant Hills and parts of Castle Hill.

North ward covers most of the council’s land mass, including Beaumont Hills, Glenhaven, Annangrove, Kenthurst and Maroota.

West ward covers Bella Vista and the remainder of Kellyville.

Redistribution
The Central and East wards shifted north, taking in territory from the North ward, while there was no change to the West ward.

The East ward took in part of Castle Hill from the Central ward, which then took North Kellyville from the North ward (and lost part of Glenhaven).

Incumbent mayor
Michelle Byrne (Liberal)

Incumbent councillors

Central Frank De Masi (Liberal) Tony Hay (Labor) Elizabeth Russo (Liberal)
East Alan Haselden (Liberal) Ryan Tracey (Labor) Samuel Uno (Liberal)
North Brooke Collins (Liberal) Peter Gangemi (Liberal) Vacant (Liberal)1
West Jacob Jackson (Liberal)2 Reena Jethi (Liberal) Mike Thomas (Liberal)

1Robyn Preston resigned from council in early 2021 after being elected as the state member for Hawkesbury in 2019.

2Jacob Jackson was elected at a by-election on 28 July 2018 after the resignation of Labor councillor Raymond Harty.

History
The Hills Shire (previously known as Baulkham Hills Shire) has traditionally been dominated by independents, but the area has long been dominated by the Liberal Party at other levels of government.

The 2004 election saw three Labor councillors elected, and two Community First councillors. Six independents were elected, along with one councillor on the Protect Our Garden Shire ticket. The Liberal Party did not contest the election, but four of those six independents went on to stand for the Liberal Party at other elections.

The Liberal Party first ran official candidates for Baulkham Hills in 2008, and swept into power in a landslide. The Liberal Party won two out of three seats in all four wards, with the remaining seat in each ward going to the Labor Party. This wiped out the independents, and produced a council with eight Liberal and four Labor councillors.

The 2012 election saw the Liberal Party improbably gain even further ground, winning all three seats in the North ward, for a total of nine seats on the council. The other three seats went to Labor. A referendum was passed in 2012 creating a directly elected mayoralty, to be first elected at the next election.

The southern end of the council (containing areas south of the M2) were transferred to the City of Parramatta in 2016.

The 2017 election was the first election where The Hills directly elected the mayor, in addition to the twelve other councillors. The Liberal Party’s Michelle Byrne, who had previously served two years as mayor, was elected mayor with almost 62% of the vote.

There was a 6% swing against the Liberal Party on council but it made no difference to the seat count, with the Liberals holding their nine seats against three for Labor.

Candidate summary
Watch this space.

Assessment
The Hills is a very strong council for the Liberal Party. It’s hard to see the Liberal Party losing the mayoralty or coming close to losing their majority.

Labor could potentially pick up a fourth seat in the North ward if the Liberal vote drops, but the redistribution has made this task more difficult. It’s also not too hard to imagine Labor losing a seat in the Central or East wards.

If this council were to become more balanced and not so dominated by the Liberal Party, it would likely take place through the resurgence of independent candidates, and maybe even an independent faction in opposition to the Liberals. Those groups exist in numerous other conservative councils, but they are not to be seen in the Hills.

2017 council election result

PartyVotes%SwingSeats won
Liberal 52,96062.52-5.79
Labor 19,60723.15+2.83
Independents5,0826.00+6.0
Building Australia Party4,7615.62+1.2
Greens 2,2972.71+0.8
Informal5,7306.34

2017 mayoral election result

CandidatePartyVotes%
Michelle Byrne Liberal 53,40961.78
Tony Hay Labor 18,62621.54
Jeff LoweIndependent9,70411.22
Ray BrownBuilding Australia Party4,7155.45
Informal3,8474.26

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

The Liberal Party won large majorities in all four wards, ranging from 57.9% in the East ward to 70.7% in the North ward.

The Labor vote ranged from 19.1% in the North to 31.4% in the West.

The Liberal mayoral vote was a bit more even, ranging from 59.2% in the East ward to 67% in the North ward.

The redistribution improved the Liberal position in the Central and North wards, but slightly weakened their position in the East ward.

Council results by 2017 ward

WardLIB %ALP %Others %
Central58.822.019.1
East57.920.321.8
North70.719.110.2
West62.231.46.4

Mayoral results by 2017 ward

WardLIB %ALP %Lowe %
Central60.220.812.7
East59.223.212.9
North67.017.69.7
West60.424.89.7

Council results by 2021 ward

WardLIB %ALP %Others %
Central60.922.416.7
East57.020.722.4
North71.518.010.5
West62.231.46.4

Mayoral results by 2021 ward

WardLIB %ALP %Lowe %
The Hills Central61.820.910.8
The Hills East58.323.213.9
The Hills North67.516.810.0
The Hills West60.424.89.7

Election results at the 2017 Hills Shire election
Toggle between primary votes for the Liberal Party and Labor.

Election results at the 2017 Hills Shire mayoral election
Toggle between primary votes for Michelle Byrne, Tony Hay and Jeff Lowe.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Hills residents: Complain profusively about “overdevelopment” approved by Liberal councillors and opposed by everyone else.

    Also Hills residents: Overwhelmingly vote for Liberal councillors.

  2. Labor will likely be reduced to a single seat at this stage with recent events with the state party and COVID helping governments right around the country. I was mistaken about Chris Minns being on the left and I apologise for misleading. But he still doesn’t have any sort of charisma former leaders have. NSW Labor needs a Kevin Rudd at this stage to save them from annihilation in local,state and federal elections in NSW. This isn’t about the bush anymore because Labor is losing ground in Sydney and surroundings.

    I do hope this is a wake up call for the party but the Liberals should never be complacent about this region or any for that matter, If the Liberals do lose this council it will be to a Clover Moore/Your Northern Beaches style independents. But not to Labor. Perhaps there is a small chance the Greens could win a seat here meaning 1 ALP 1 GRN and 10 LIBS.

    Michelle Bryne to be EASILY re-elected if she runs

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