Electoral Form Guide: Kingsfordsmith
Electorate: Kingsford Smith
Margin: Labor 13.3%
Location: South-Eastern Sydney, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Kingsford Smith has been held by Labor without interruption since its creation in 1949. Peter Garrett succeeded Laurie Brereton as member in 2004.
Electorate analysis: Kingsford Smith was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1949 around Clovelly, Coogee and Randwick in Sydney’s inner south-east. The redistribution has transferred 3200 voters in the area around Rosebery to Sydney, with no effect on the margin. Originally held by Labor with narrow margins, their positioned was strengthened when the Maroubra area at the northern entrance to Botany Bay was first added in 1955. The only time their hold has been threatened since was with the 1966 landslide, when the margin was reduced to 1.5 per cent. Laurie Brereton became member in 1990 after serving as a senior minister in the Wran-Unsworth government, and he was on the federal party’s front bench from 1993 until his surprise retirement announcement four months ahead of the 2004 election. Then-leader Mark Latham took the opportunity to secure endorsement for Peter Garrett, nationally famous since the 1980s as the lead singer for Midnight Oil and more recently the president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
Garrett was promoted to the front bench as Shadow Environment Minister when Kevin Rudd came to the leadership in December 2006, and has maintained the portfolio in government. However, his status has been diminished on two occasions. After the 2007 election win Kevin Rudd created a separate climate change portfolio that was entrusted to Penny Wong. This followed a difficult election campaign in which Garrett was ridiculed for a “jocular” comment in a casual conversation with talk radio host Steve Price, to the effect that Labor would change all its policies in government. The second occasion resulted from the politically disastrous insulation batts program, which resulted in Greg Combet assuming responsibility for the program in February 2010 through the new position of Minister Assisting the Climate Change Minister.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.