Margin: Liberal 8.8%
Location: Sydney North Shore, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah takes in Manly and surrounding north shore areas. It has never been held by Labor, a situation that is not about to change with the coming election.
Electorate analysis: Tony Abbott’s electorate of Warringah covers Sydney’s affluent northern beaches from Manly north to Dee Why, extending inland to Balgowlah, Mosman, Middle Cove and Forestville. The redistribution has given the electorate a slightly more inner city orientation, adding 14,400 in a strip between Middle Harbour and Sydney Harbour from Willoughby Bay to Neutral Bay from North Sydney. Its corresponding losses are its areas west of Middle Harbour Creek and Sugarloaf Bay, which send 7000 voters at East Killara and East Lindfield to Bradfield and 2700 at Castle Cove and Middle Cove to North Sydney, and in Forrestville on the eastern bank of Middle Harbour Creek, where 3500 voters go to Mackellar. The changes have pared 0.7 per cent off the Liberal margin.
Warringah was created in 1922, at which point it extended as far north as Palm Beach. It was significantly redrawn in 1949, losing Manly and moving deeper into the harbour. It resumed more familiar dimensions in 1969, and has since been anchored on the north shore of Port Jackson. Never held by Labor, the seat has been in Liberal hands since the party’s foundation in 1944, except when one-term member Edward St John was expelled from the party for raising concerns in parliament over then-Prime Minister John Gorton’s indiscreet behaviour with a female journalist. St John contested the seat as an independent in 1969, but was defeated by Liberal candidate Michael Mackellar.
A former journalist and press secretary to Opposition Leader John Hewson, who had studied to become a priest after leaving school, Abbott emerged as Employment and Education Minister with the election of the Howard government, assuming the workplace relations portfolio in 2003. He initially proposed to run for the leadership after the 2007 election defeat, but withdrew as it became clear he would not have the numbers. In late November 2009 he was one of a number of front-benchers who quit as part of a revolt against leader Malcolm Turnbull’s support for the government’s emissions trading scheme, which initiated a leadership spill. After presumed favourite Joe Hockey was unexpectedly defeated in the first round, Abbott prevailed over Turnbull in the second 42 votes to 41.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.