Inner Sydney representatives saw their support rise at Saturday’s elections, with Tanya Plibersek, Malcolm Turnbull and Anthony Albanese all returned with an increased primary vote.
The people of Wentworth will again be represented by a cabinet minister, with Mr Turnbull to remain in the communications portfolio under the new Coalition government led by Tony Abbott. At the time of writing he had received a 3.7 per cent swing on primaries, commanding a bigger margin than Joe Hockey in North Sydney or Mr Abbott in Warringah.
Mr Turnbull said he was looking forward to returning to cabinet.
“Government will bring a range of challenges – fixing the NBN alone will be an immense task for the Coalition,” he said.
In the seat of Sydney, Tanya Plibersek bucked the statewide trend to record a 3.5 per cent primary swing, boosted by a collapse in Greens support of 6.4 per cent. Ms Plibersek is a popular choice among some voters and party members to take on the Labor leadership, but appears unlikely to do so.
Greens candidate Dianne Hiles, who has been involved in refugee advocacy for 12 years, said she was pleased Sydney remains a progressive seat but was disappointed in the result.
“I was expecting the refugee issue to resonate and to pick up a substantial protest vote, and I really can’t understand why that didn’t happen,” she said.
“When I was doorknocking and talking to people the comment I was getting was that there was nothing to choose between the two major parties.”
Ms Hiles said the expectation of a significant Coalition victory meant people felt they had to vote Labor to secure the seat.
Meanwhile, deputy Labor leader Anthony Albanese increased his majority in Grayndler, which was named by the ABC’s Vote Compass as the country’s most left-wing seat. Mr Albanese took 48 per cent of the primary vote, while Greens candidate Hall Greenland polled third behind the Liberals’ Cedric Spencer.
Mr Albanese is a favourite to take the ALP leadership vacated by Kevin Rudd, along with former education and workplace relations minister Bill Shorten.
All three inner Sydney seats are within the nation’s ten most left-leaning electorates according to the ABC’s Vote Compass, an online survey which attracted more than 1 million responses during the campaign. Grayndler was rated the most left-wing seat in the country, with Sydney placing fifth and Mr Turnbull’s Wentworth coming in tenth.
“I can only conclude that the Wentworth electors have been sufficiently pleased with my representation of them over the last three years and sufficiently appalled by the prospect of another three years of Labor’s chaos to re-elect me,” Mr Turnbull said.
Nationwide, the Greens suffered a disastrous swing of 3.3 per cent but retained the seat of Melbourne for Adam Bandt. A 4.1 per cent swing against Labor delivered its lowest primary vote since 1934, just 33.8 per cent. Paul Keating has said the ALP needs a primary vote “with a four in front of it” to be a viable and competitive major party.
At the time of writing, Labor is predicted to hold 57 seats to the Coalition’s 89. Andrew Wilkie and Bob Katter will retain their seats while Clive Palmer is expected to narrowly seize the Queensland seat of Fairfax. It was a remarkable result for the Palmer United Party, which scored 600,000 votes nationwide, or 5.6 per cent.
In Sydney’s inner south, Labor managed to hold Kingsford-Smith, vacated by Peter Garrett and won by Matt Thistlethwaite, who was elected to the Senate in 2010 but sought to move to the lower house.