Do the voters in John Brogden’s old seat of
Pittwater face more by-elections than anyone else? “Nope,” The Poll BludgerWilliam Bowe explains. “Try
Werriwa. The by-election in February was the latest in a series that included
Latham’s win in 1994 after the mid-term resignation of John Kerin; Kerin’s win
in 1978 after Gough pulled the pin after the 1977 election; and Gough’s
election at a by-election in 1952 after the death of Hubert Lazzarini.”

Antony Green offers more detail:

Pittwater
has never seen an orderly handover of MPs at a general election.

Bob Askin won Pittwater in 1973 (it had
previously been known as Collaroy), but retired and caused a 1975 by-election,
when he was succeeded by Bruce Webster.

Webster quickly tired of serving in an
ineffectual opposition and resigned in mid-1978. The only reason a by-election
was not held on this occasion is because after Labor’s victory at the Earlwood
by-election, Neville Wran used the vacancy and two others in Cessnock and
Wollondilly to call an early election.

Max Smith won Pittwater and retired in
1986 causing another by-election. His successor Jim Longley also retired in
1995 after the defeat of the Fahey government and caused the by-election at
which Brogden was elected.

By-elections have also been the chosen way
for MPs to depart the blue blood eastern suburbs seat of Vaucluse. Since 1936,
only Keith Doyle in 1978 has retired at a general election.

Murray Robson caused a by-election by
dying in 1957, and his successor Geoffrey Cox also died causing a by-election
in 1964. After Doyle’s resignation, by-elections continued, with Rosemary Foot
resigning in 1986, Ray Aston dying in 1988 and Michael Yabsley resigning in
1994.

For those interested, current Liberal
Leader Peter Debnam won that by-election, having first defeated John Brogden
for Liberal pre-selection.

But don’t forget Werriwa. Gough Whitlam
won the seat at a 1954 by-election. He was succeeded at a 1978 by-election by
John Kerin, who resigned and caused the by-election at which Mark Latham was
elected in 1994. Now Latham has resigned and continued the pattern of
replacement by by-election in Werriwa. You have to go back to 1934 to find the
last occasion in which Werriwa changed MP at a general election.

Peter Fray

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