North Sydney by-election, 2015
The North Sydney seat in the House of Representatives
House of Representatives Speaker Tony Smith issued the writ for the by-election on 26 October. The electoral roll containing 104,352 electors closed on 2 November. Candidate nominations closed on 12 November, and the draw of the ballot paper order occurred on 13 November.
The by-election was won by Liberal candidate Trent Zimmerman, a former Hockey staffer, whose pre-selection had been controversial. Zimmerman won with 48.2 percent of the primary vote after a larger-than-predicted 12.8 percent swing against the Turnbull Coalition Government. This was only the second time in North Sydney's history that the successful Liberal candidate did not obtain a majority of the primary vote and had to rely on preferences. Zimmerman faced a double-digit primary vote swing − more than triple that of the 2015 Canning by-election − despite the absence of a Labor candidate. Labor have never been successful in the safe Liberal seat.
The Liberal two-candidate vote of 60.2 percent against independent Stephen Ruff compares to the previous election vote of 65.9 percent against Labor. The reduction of 5.7 percent cannot be considered a "two-party/candidate preferred swing" − when a major party is absent, preference flows to both major parties does not take place, resulting in asymmetric preference flows.
Ian Macfarlane attempted to defect from the Liberal party room to the National party room with accompanying demands for additional Nationals cabinet representation, and the Mal Brough James Ashby diary controversy deepened in the last week of the campaign. Along with the unexpected by-election swing and Turnbull's significantly lessened personal ratings in the concurrent December Newspoll, some News Corp journalists opined Malcolm Turnbull's honeymoon to be over.
Zimmerman became the first openly-LGBTI member of the House of Representatives.
|13 candidates in ballot paper order|
|Arts||Lou Pollard||Arts activist, comedian, actor, writer and clown doctor.|
|Sustainable Population||William Bourke||Party founder and president. Principal partner in a national marketing business.|
|Liberal Democrats||Sam Kennard||Managing director of Kennards Self Storage.|
|Voluntary Euthanasia||Kerry Bromson||Party convenor.|
|Future||James Jansson||Party leader.|
|Greens||Arthur Chesterfield-Evans||Medical doctor. Democrats member of the NSW Legislative Council from 1998 to 2007.|
|Independent||Maryann Beregi||Councillor on North Sydney Council.|
|Christian Democrats||Silvana Nero||Perennial candidate. Italian language teacher. Second wife of party leader Fred Nile.|
|Palmer United||Robert Marks||Company director, auctioneer and real estate agent. Candidate for Bennelong at the 2013 federal election.|
|Liberal||Trent Zimmerman||Acting party president of the NSW division. Former Joe Hockey staffer.|
|Independent||Stephen Ruff||Senior orthopaedic surgeon at Royal North Shore Hospital. Backed by former independent North Sydney MP Ted Mack.|
|Cyclists||Luke Freeman||Digital marketer, volunteers with not-for-profit organisations.|
|Bullet Train||Tim Bohm||Party president. Candidate for Molonglo at the 2012 ACT election and the Senate in NSW at the 2013 federal election.|
The campaign began amid claims of "widespread discontent for the Liberal pre-selection factional fix of Trent Zimmerman" and in the absence of a Labor candidate. Hockey's predecessor, former independent North Sydney MP Ted Mack, announced he would steer the campaign of independent candidate Stephen Ruff, who had the support of some disgruntled Liberal supporters. Ruff was a late entrant into the 2015 New South Wales state election. Despite having no financial or campaign support and facing veteran Liberal incumbent Jillian Skinner and a Labor candidate in the overlapping state seat of North Shore, Ruff won more than 10 percent of the vote.
Regarding the North Sydney by-election, Mack stated "I've never seen an election where a Liberal candidate is so disliked by such a lot of Liberal members and Liberal voters". Leaked emails show potential voters were sent registration forms at 7:30 pm on a Thursday and asked to signal their availability, with the cut-off for replying by noon the next day. Advance notice of the e-mail and cut-off was provided to Zimmerman's backers. It was claimed up to 550 Liberal branch members were unable to vote after the Liberal state executive pushed through a shortened pre-selection process to select Zimmerman. Zimmerman is head of the body that sets the rules for Liberal pre-selections, which has been claimed as a "complete conflict of interest". Former North Sydney Liberal party member John Ruddick, described by journalist Peter Hartcher as a "prominent party reform activist", advocated that voters disenfranchised by the pre-selection process to preference Zimmerman last.
Mack also claimed that much of the electorate was angered that Hockey, who had written the "age of entitlement" speech, had forced a $1-million by-election within a year of the 2016 federal election, with the expectation of becoming the next Ambassador of Australia to the United States. The expectation was confirmed a few days after the by-election on 8 December.
The Liberal party room suffered from the attempted defection of Ian Macfarlane from the Liberal party room to the National party room with accompanying demands for additional Nationals cabinet representation, and the Mal Brough James Ashby diary controversy deepened in the last week of the campaign.
Candidate volunteers distribute how-to-vote cards to voters at polling booths which show the candidate's suggested preference allocation. Candidates and parties which suggested preferences are shown in each column of the table below. Several candidates ran open tickets at this by-election.
|Arts||Sustainable Population||Liberal Democrats||Voluntary Euthanasia||Future||Greens||Beregi||Christian Democrats||Palmer United||Liberal||Ruff||Cyclists||Bullet Train|
Two days out, a ReachTEL automated phone poll of 678 respondents, commissioned by the Save Our Councils Coalition, showed the Liberals with a 54.7 percent primary vote after exclusion of the 15.3 percent undecided. Accurately interpreted, this amounted to a 6.4 percent drop from the 2013 Liberal vote, rather than the 14.7 percent in the report, which ignored the undecided component. The poll result had the Greens on 22.8 percent, the Christian Democratic Party on 4.1 percent, and everyone else on 18.3 percent.
|Sustainable Population||William Bourke||2,189||2.88||+2.88|
|Christian Democrats||Silvana Nero||1,917||2.52||+1.51|
|Liberal Democrats||Sam Kennard||1,591||2.09||+2.09|
|Bullet Train||Tim Bohm||964||1.27||+1.27|
|Voluntary Euthanasia||Kerry Bromson||815||1.07||+1.07|
|Palmer United||Robert Marks||352||0.46||−1.23|
|Total formal votes||76,121||93.08||−1.54|
Liberal candidate Trent Zimmerman won with 48.2 percent of the primary vote after a larger-than-predicted 12.8 percent swing against the Turnbull Coalition Government. This was only the second time in North Sydney's history that the successful Liberal candidate did not obtain a majority of the primary vote and had to rely on preferences. Zimmerman faced a double-digit primary vote swing − more than triple that of the 2015 Canning by-election − despite the absence of a Labor candidate. Labor have never been successful in the safe Liberal seat.
The Liberal two-candidate vote of 60.2 percent against independent Stephen Ruff compares to the previous election vote of 65.9 percent against Labor. The reduction of 5.7 percent cannot be considered a "two-party/candidate preferred swing"—when a major party is absent, preference flows to both major parties does not take place, resulting in asymmetric preference flows.
- 2015 North Sydney by-election: Antony Green ABC
- "Hockey by-election to be held December 5". SBS News. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- Dates, 2015 North Sydney by-election: AEC
- "A Comment on the Size of the Port Adelaide Swing, Antony Green". Blogs.abc.net.au. 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- An Example of Non-Monotonicity and Opportunities for Tactical Voting at an Australian Election: Antony Green ABC 4 May 2011
- Liberal MP Ian Macfarlane defects to Nationals in shock move against Malcolm Turnbull: SMH 3 December 2015
- Malcolm Turnbull suddenly has a lot of problems: Business Insider 3 December 2015
- The honeymoon is over: David Speers/Switzer 3 December 2015
- Turnbull’s ‘honeymoon’ coming to an end: Courier Mail 3 December 2015
- Honeymoon over for Malcolm Turnbull: Herald Sun 6 December 2015
- Is the Turnbull honeymoon over?: Courier Mail 7 December 2015
- Turnbull ducks talk on Brough's future: The Advertiser 8 December 2015
- Gartrell, Adam (December 5, 2015). "Liberal Trent Zimmerman wins North Sydney byelection despite swing". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
- When an election’s not a battle but a limp formality: Daily Telegraph 26 November 2015
- Candidates, Voting in the 2015 North Sydney by-election: AEC
- Aston, Heath (10 November 2015). "Ted Mack working to install an independent in Joe Hockey's old seat". The Age. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
- Robertson, James (26 October 2015). "North Sydney preselection for Joe Hockey's safe seat under cloud of a political fix". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Hartcher, Peter (31 October 2015). "Liberals thumb their noses at party reform". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Ruddick, John (24 November 2015). "Why I'm putting Trent Zimmerman last on North Sydney byelection ballot". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Joe Hockey announced as Australia's next ambassador to the United States: SMH 8 December 2015
- "Mobile Uploads - Victoria Hopkins | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2015-12-06.
- "William Bourke's North Sydney Campaign Overview". Sustainable Australia. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
- "Sam Kennard LDP DL Flyer.pdf" (PDF). Liberal Democratic Party. Retrieved 2 Dec 2015.
- "Voluntary Euthanasia Party's Photos - Voluntary Euthanasia Party | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
- "2012 North Sydney by-election-ABC News".
- Greens how-to-vote card, 2015 North Sydney by-election: ABC
- Beregi, MaryAnn. "How to vote for MaryAnn.pdf" (PDF). Vote MaryAnn Beregi. Retrieved 2 Dec 2015.
- "Silvana-Campaign-Flyer-40951-CD-A5FlyerNorthSydneyv2.pdf" (PDF). Christian Democratic Party. Retrieved 2 Dec 2015.
- Liberal how-to-vote card, 2015 North Sydney by-election: ABC
- Ruff, Stephen. "Stephen Ruff HTV" (PDF). Retrieved 26 Nov 2015.
- Council amalgamations fuelling Liberal backlash in North Sydney byelection: SMH 3 December 2015
- 3 December update - North Sydney by-election: The Poll Bludger
- 2015 North Sydney by-election results: AEC
- 2015 North Sydney by-election results: ABC
- Australian Electoral Commission official feed: Twitter
- Commentary - 2015 North Sydney state by-election: Antony Green ABC