NSW election 2023
Full election results
The Coalition’s electoral presence in western Sydney has been dramatically curtailed after it suffered double-digit falls in first preference votes across a swath of seats in the region.
There were even bigger declines in Liberal heartland territory in the city’s north.
The Liberals lost the seats of Parramatta, Penrith, East Hills, Camden and Riverstone at Saturday’s state election as parts of western Sydney that had been loyal for a decade deserted the party.
Labor victory in those five seats was the foundation of its return to government after 12 years in opposition.
Three more Liberal-held seats in the city’s west and south-west – Holsworthy, Winston Hills and Wollondilly – remain in doubt with around half of the overall number of votes counted.
The Liberals’ first preference vote slumped by 15 per cent in Parramatta, by 14 per cent in Riverstone and by 8 per cent in Camden.
In the newly created electorate of Leppington, a high-growth area in the city’s south-west, the Liberal vote fell by 4.5 per cent.
There were also massive first preference swings against the Liberals in some western Sydney electorates already held by Labor including Granville (-16 per cent), Londonderry (-11 per cent) and Canterbury (-11 per cent).
When the Barry O’Farrell-led Coalition swept to power in 2011 it picked up a clutch of seats in western Sydney and has adopted policies that target voters in the region since. One recent example is the $5 billion WestInvest program, funded in last year’s state budget, to improve public amenity and infrastructure in the region. Now many of the western Sydney seats won by the Liberals in 2011 have returned to the Labor fold.
The election was held with inflation at the highest level in decades and after a spate of official interest rate increases. Opinion polls showed cost of living pressures were a top concern for voters.
Sydney University’s Professor Rodney Smith, who researches NSW politics, said a likely factor sapping Liberal support was a gap between the upbeat political portrayal of life in western Sydney growth areas and the reality for many residents.
“People are expecting their lives to improve and when they feel that’s not happening they look for someone, or something to blame,” he said. “The government is an obvious actor to blame.”
The Liberal vote also went backwards in its traditional northern Sydney strongholds. The party relinquished the once ultra-safe electorate of Wakehurst to independent Michael Regan after the Liberal primary vote plummeted by 24 per cent.
Treasurer Matt Kean held his seat of Hornsby but only after suffering a chunky 12 per cent decline in the primary vote. It was a similar story in Liberal-held Castle Hill (-13 per cent), Kellyville (-11 per cent), Davidson (-10 per cent) and Wahroonga (-9 per cent).
In Epping, held by defeated Premier Dominic Perrottet, the Liberal primary vote fell by 6 per cent.
In Sydney’s south, the Liberals are in danger of losing the seat of Miranda to Labor after the party’s primary vote crashed by 10 per cent. The outcome in that electorate is still too close to call. The Liberals held the neighbouring seat of Cronulla but saw a fall in primary votes of 8 per cent.
The biggest swing to Labor in Saturday’s election was the 20 per cent jump in the party’s primary vote in Kogarah, the seat held by Premier-elect Chris Minns. The next biggest increases in the Labor first preferences were in Parramatta (13 per cent), Maroubra (13 per cent), Camden (13 per cent) and Drummoyne (12 per cent).
Smith said the voting patterns in western Sydney in the 2023 election were very different to 2019 when Labor failed to make significant inroads in the region.
At this election, the shift in votes to Labor in western Sydney has been “much more pronounced and across a large number of seats”.
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