Electorate analysis: Coogee is one of three electorates that cover the Sydney coast between Port Jackson and Botany Bay, along with Vaucluse to the north and Maroubra to the south. Once a keenly fought marginal seat, it was held by Liberal member Kevin Ellis from 1948 to 1953, 1956 to 1962 and 1965 to 1973, with Labor’s Louis Walsh holding it in the intervening periods. Ellis’s successor Ross Freeman won by just eight votes in 1973, a result Labor successfully challenged in the Court of Disputed Returns. The ensuing by-election produced a 54-vote victory for Labor’s Mike Cleary, and the seat has been in Labor hands ever since.
In 1991 the abolition of neighbouring Waverley set its member Ernie Page against Cleary for preselection, with the two candidates respectively backed by the Left and Right. Page ultimately prevailed due to the Left’s strength in local branches, which it has since maintained. When Page retired in 2003 he was succeeded without opposition by Waverley mayor Paul Pearce, another nominee of the Left. Pearce has so far been overlooked for promotion during his two terms in parliament.
The Liberal preselection attracted considerable interest, but the front-runner was always thoguht to be Bruce Notley-Smith, a Randwick councillor and staffer to Malcolm Turnbull. Notley-Smith ultimately prevailed with 48 preselection votes against 21 for party state electorate council president David Shaloub. The Greens have endorsed former primary school principal Sue Doran, whose preferences will be directed to Labor following an unusual determination by local party branches.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.