New South Wales state election 2015

31 May 2016

PDF version [441KB]

Deirdre McKeown
Politics and Public Administration Section




55th Parliament 2011–2015
Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC)
Leadership changes
Liberal Party of Australia
The Nationals
Australian Labor Party
Opinion polls
2013 Redistribution
Lindt café siege

Election campaign

Electricity privatisation – the sale of ‘poles and wires’
Coal seam gas


Legislative Assembly
Party gains
Legislative Council
Pre-poll votes
Federal implications

Appendix 1: 2015 New South Wales Post-Election Pendulum



On Saturday 28 March 2015 New South Wales (NSW) voters went to the polls to elect members of the 56th Parliament.  The Constitution Act 1902 (NSW) provides for a state election to be held every four years on the fourth Saturday in March. Members of the Legislative Assembly are elected for a term of four years and members of the Legislative Council for eight years.[1]

The rules for the election of members of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council are contained in the Constitution Act 1902 (NSW) and the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912 (NSW).[2] The 93 members of the Legislative Assembly are elected by the optional preferential system of voting. The Legislative Council consists of 42 members with half (21) elected every four years by proportional representation, with the state regarded as a single electorate.

The optional preferential voting system used in NSW requires that voters rank candidates in order of preference, but need only indicate at least one single preference for their vote to count.[3] 

Previous state elections held in Victoria on 29 November 2014 and in Queensland on 31 January 2015 had resulted in Liberal-National governments being defeated in favour of the Labor opposition. The Queensland election resulted in the defeat of the first term LNP government with the Premier, Campbell Newman losing his seat. One commentator noted that links had been drawn between the electoral fortunes of these Coalition governments and the federal Coalition Government:

Two first-term Coalition governments were defeated and some of the blame was laid at the feet of Tony Abbott and his government.[4]

Another noted that the Federal Government’s performance ‘so marred the final week of the Queensland state election campaign in late January that it contributed to the ousting of Campbell Newman's government’.[5]  The Queensland LNP Government had also campaigned on a large privatisation agenda, including the state’s electricity assets, which commentators agreed was another reason for the voter backlash.[6]

On 9 February 2015, following unrest in the Liberal party room over the prime minister’s performance, Tony Abbott survived a motion to spill the federal leadership of the Liberal Party. Abbott described this to colleagues as a ‘near death experience’.[7] Although the leadership issue in the federal Liberal Party was resolved more than six weeks before the NSW election, many political observers still believed that the federal government’s performance could have an impact on the NSW result.[8]

This paper provides a brief overview of the 55th NSW Parliament, the 2015 state election campaign, results and federal implications. More detailed information on the NSW election is available in papers by election analyst Antony Green.[9]


55th Parliament 2011–2015

The NSW Liberal-National coalition achieved a historic election result in 2011, winning 64.2 per cent of the two-party preferred vote in a 16.5 per cent swing to the Coalition.[10]  The election result ended 16 years of Labor Party rule and marked the first time since the election of 1991 that the Liberal-National Coalition had won office in NSW (and the first time since the election of 1988 that it had won a majority of seats).[11]

The table below shows the strength of the parties in both Houses following the 2011 election. The Australian Greens won their first seat in the Legislative Assembly when Jamie Parker defeated Education Minister, Verity Firth, in the electorate of Balmain.

Table 1: Party representation in the NSW Parliament after March 2011 election

Party Legislative Assembly Legislative Council
Coalition 69 (Lib 51, Nat 18) 19 (Lib 12, Nat 7)
ALP 20 14
Greens 1 5
Independents 3 -
Christian Democrat - 2
Shooters and Fishers - 2
Total 93 42

Source: compiled by the Parliamentary Library from NSW Electoral Commission figures.

The NSW Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC)

During the 55th Parliament, ICAC investigations had an impact on a number of members of the NSW Coalition Government and members of the previous NSW Australian Labor Party (ALP) Government.

ICAC investigations during the 54th and 55th Parliaments resulted in the Commission making corrupt conduct findings against a number of former ALP ministers including Edward Obeid, Ian Macdonald, Joseph Tripodi, Anthony Kelly and parliamentary secretaries Karyn Paluzano and Angela D’Amore.[12] These ministers, apart from Obeid, had resigned during the previous parliament or retired at the 2011 election.  Obeid resigned from the Legislative Council on 10 May 2011. Another former minister, Eric Roosendaal, was cleared by ICAC (Operation Indus) but resigned from Parliament on 17 May 2013.[13]

In 2014, ICAC investigated allegations concerning corrupt conduct involving Australian Water Holdings Pty Ltd (AWH) (Operation Credo) and allegations concerning soliciting, receiving and concealing payments from various sources and the failure to disclose political donations from companies, including prohibited donors (Operation Spicer).[14] Although ICAC had not reported on these two investigations before the election,[15] a number of Government members of parliament stood down from ministerial positions and/or resigned from the parliamentary Liberal Party during the hearings. The changes included:[16]

  • Barry O’Farrell (Member for Ku-ring-gai) resigned as Premier on 17 April 2014.[17] He retired at the election.
  • Mike Gallacher (Member of the NSW Legislative Council) resigned as Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for the Central Coast on 7 May 2014. Gallacher’s term in the Legislative Council ends in 2019.
  • Chris Hartcher (Member for Terrigal) resigned as Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for the Central Coast and Special Minister of State on 9 December 2013. In February 2014 media reports stated that Hartcher had voluntarily withdrawn from the Liberal Party.[18]  He retired at the election.
  • Central Coast backbenchers Chris Spence (Member for The Entrance) and Darren Webber (Member for Wyong) voluntarily moved to the crossbench on 19 February 2014.[19] Both retired at the election.
  • Marie Ficarra (Member of the Legislative Council) resigned as Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier on 17 April 2014.[20] On 29 April 2014 it was reported that she had voluntarily stepped down from the parliamentary Liberal Party on 28 April.[21] Ficarra retired at the election. 
  • Tim Owen (Member for Newcastle) resigned from Parliament on 12 August 2014.[22] A by-election for his seat was held on 25 October 2014 (see section on by-elections below).
  • Andrew Cornwell (Member for Charlestown) resigned from Parliament on 12 August 2014.[23] A by-election for his seat was held on 25 October 2014 (see section on by-elections below).
  • Garry Edwards (Member for Swansea) announced on 14 August 2014 that he would stand aside from the parliamentary Liberal Party and sit on the crossbenches.[24] He was defeated at the election.
  • Craig Baumann (Member for Port Stephens), stood aside from the Liberal Party on 12 September 2014.[25] He retired at the election.
  • Bart Bassett (Member for Londonderry), announced on 27 August 2014 that he would stand aside from the Liberal Party.[26] He retired at the election.

Leadership changes

All major parties experienced leadership changes during the 55th Parliament with two leaders, Barry O’Farrell (Lib) and Andrew Stoner (Nats), not contesting the 2015 election.

Liberal Party of Australia

As noted above, Barry O’Farrell resigned as Premier at a meeting of the parliamentary Liberal Party on 17 April 2014. O’Farrell had initially denied receiving a $3,000 bottle of wine from AWH executive Nick Di Girolamo. On 16 April 2014, ICAC heard that a handwritten note from Mr O'Farrell, thanking Mr Di Girolamo for the wine, had been uncovered.[27] The ICAC had not accused O’Farrell of corruption.

On 17 April 2014 the Parliamentary Liberal Party elected Treasurer Mike Baird, Member for Manly and son of former federal and state minister Bruce Baird, as Liberal Party leader and Premier.  

At the press conference following his election, it was reported that Baird acknowledged that there were community concerns about lobbyists, fund-raising and political donations and foreshadowed changes to the way lobbyists operate in NSW.[28]

The ICAC had previously recommended a tightening of the rules around lobbyists in NSW, including a requirement for companies and associates lobbying ministers to be registered and for details of the meetings to be made public.[29]

The Nationals

On 15 October 2014, Andrew Stoner (Member for Oxley) announced his intention to resign as Deputy Premier of NSW and leader of the Nationals. Mr Stoner explained his reason for resignation saying:

I have no job lined up and I'm not under any cloud. I simply need to be there for my family.[30]

Stoner retired at the election. His successor, Troy Grant (Member for Dubbo) was elected at a Nationals’ party room meeting on 16 October 2014.[31]  

Australian Labor Party

On 23 December 2014, John Robertson (Member for Blacktown), announced his resignation as Labor leader and Opposition leader. Robertson resigned over revelations that he had signed a letter of request in 2011 for Man Haron Monis, the perpetrator of the Lindt Café siege in Sydney in December 2014.[32]

Luke Foley, a member of the left faction and the Legislative Council, was elected unopposed at a party meeting on 5 January 2015.[33]  Foley successfully contested the seat of Auburn at the election and moved to the Legislative Assembly. On 10 January 2015 a newspaper referred to the ‘anyone but Robertson factor’ and reported that a Galaxy poll showed that:

Labor’s primary vote of 36 per cent (up two) gives the party real encouragement for March 28, bearing in mind Morris Iemma managed to win government in 2007 with just 39 per cent of the primary vote …

With the poll showing only 19 per cent of people can actually name Luke Foley as Opposition Leader, and with Foley yet to announce a single policy of substance, this poll result shows how bad John Robertson was as an election prospect.[34]

Opinion polls

During the 55th Parliament, the Government consistently outpolled the ALP Opposition. A newspaper article in March 2013 noted that ‘the opinion polls have consistently held O'Farrell leagues ahead of his Labor opponent, John Robertson’.[35]  But as the election date approached new leaders of all major parties were attempting to connect with voters. The Government was still nervous about the defeat of a first term LNP Government in Queensland, allegations at ICAC against 10 Liberal members, and the need to overcome the ‘dysfunction of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s federal government’.[36]

By early November the media was reporting that the Government and the Premier had not been affected by ICAC resignations and allegations with headlines such as ‘Coalition emerge from ICAC ahead of Labor’ and ‘Baird hoses off ICAC mud to soar as premier pick’.[37]

A Newspoll published in December 2014, conducted before John Robertson’s resignation, showed that the Opposition ‘faced a heavy defeat’.[38]

In January 2015 a Fairfax/Ipsos poll found that:

The Baird Coalition's two-party preferred vote increased by 2 per cent to 56 per cent using preference flows from the 2011 election, in a result that challenges claims that economic reform has become impossible in the contemporary media environment.

The Luke Foley-led Labor Party fell 2 per cent to 44 per cent [two-party preferred]. The Coalition's primary vote increased by 2 per cent to 46 per cent and Labor's fell by 2 per cent to 34 per cent …

The poll suggests Premier Baird would win the election comfortably and secure the nine upper house seats that are required for the $13 billion poles and wires transaction to go ahead.

Mr Baird's approval rating remains unchanged from November's poll at 60 per cent positive - making him by far the nation's most popular leader. His net approval rating is unchanged at 42 per cent.

The first Fairfax/Ipsos poll since Mr Foley became opposition leader found his net approval rating at 9 per cent, up 11 per cent from his predecessor John Robertson.

But only 15 per cent of respondents were able to identify him.[39]

A Galaxy poll, published in January 2015, reported similar results: the ALP had a primary vote at 36 per cent compared with the Coalition on 44 per cent and a two-party preferred vote of 46 per cent (ALP) and 54 per cent (Coalition), while 19 per cent of voters were able to identify opposition leader, Luke Foley.[40]


During the 55th Parliament, seven by-elections were held with four seats resulting in a change of party representation. Table 2 lists the results of by-elections in the 55th Parliament. The Liberal Party did not contest by-elections for the electorates of Charlestown and Newcastle where the sitting Liberal members resigned as a result of evidence given at ICAC (see ICAC section above). Election analysist Antony Green noted that:

[a]s the Liberal Party won both seats at the 2011 election, choosing not to defend them at by-elections creates history in NSW politics.[41]

The ALP did not contest the by-election for the seat of Sydney where an amendment to the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) forced Independent MP Clover Moore to resign her seat if she wanted to continue as Lord Mayor.[42] The electorate of Miranda was regained by the Liberal Party at the 2015 election.

Table 2: Legislative Assembly by-election changes 2011–2015

Electorate Departing MP (Party) Reason New MP (Party)
Clarence Steve Cansdell (NAT) Resigned Chris Gulaptis (NAT)
Heffron Kristina Keneally (ALP) Resigned Ron Hoenig (ALP)
Sydney Clover Moore (IND) Resigned Alex Greenwich (IND)
Northern Tablelands Richard Torbey (IND) Resigned Adam Marshall (NAT)
Miranda Graham Annesley (LIB) Resigned Barry Collier (ALP)
Charlestown Andrew Cornwell (LIB) Resigned Jodie Harrison (ALP)
Newcastle Tim Owen (LIB) Resigned Tim Crakanthorp (ALP)

Source: A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op. cit., p. 57.

Note: bolded electorates indicate where a seat changed party.

2013 Redistribution

In 2013 NSW Electoral Districts Commissioners conducted a redistribution of electoral districts which is required, by law, to take place after every two state elections.[43]  The table below summarises changes (and notional changes) in seats as a result of the redistribution and by-elections.[44]

Table 3: Summary of changes resulting from 2013 redistribution and by-elections

Seats Held by Party








Old Boundaries 51 18 20 1 3 93
New Boundaries 53 17 18 2 3 93
Including by-elections 50 18 21 2 2 93

Source: A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op. cit., p. 58.

Table 3 reflects the following changes:

  • The National held seats of Burrinjuck, Murrumbidgee and Murray-Darling were abolished and replaced by the new National seats of Cootamundra and Murray.
  • The Labor seat of Marrickville was abolished and replaced by two new seats in notionally Labor-held Summer Hill and the notionally Green-held seat of Newtown.
  • The Labor held seat of Toongabbie was abolished and replaced by the notionally Liberal seat of Seven Hills.
  • The Labor seat of Macquarie Fields became notionally Liberal held on its new boundaries.
  • The Liberal seat of Smithfield was replaced by Prospect.
  • The Liberal seat of Menai was replaced by Holsworthy.
  • The Independent held seat of Northern Tablelands was won by the National Party at a May 2013 by-election.
  • The Liberal held seat of Miranda was won by the Labor Party at an October 2013 by-election.
  • The Liberal held seats Charlestown and Newcastle were gained by the Labor Party at by-elections in October 2014.[45]

Lindt café siege

On 15 December 2014, a gunman, later identified as Man Haron Monis, held a group of people hostage in the Lindt café in Martin Place, Sydney.[46] The siege ended the following day, with the death of two hostages and Monis.  On the first day of the siege, Premier Baird said:

We are being tested today in Sydney. The police are being tested, but whatever the test, we will face it head on and we will remain a strong, democratic, civil society.[47]

At the end of the week the media assessment of the Premier’s performance in handling the crisis was generally positive, for example:

His background as a theology student and devout Christian – viewed with suspicion in some quarters when he was elevated to the premier’s role in April – has served Baird well this week. He has focused not just on big decision-making, and demanded answers, but paid close attention the pastoral care of a shocked city.[48]

Election campaign

By early 2015 one commentator noted that the election campaign was ‘a real contest of ideas … [and] a campaign of more than sound bites’.[49]  Another suggested that ‘the 2015 NSW election will not be a normal election campaign. For once, this will be an election decided on policy’.[50]

The last sitting day for the Legislative Assembly was 20 November 2014. The election caretaker period commenced on 6 March 2015, the date the Legislative Assembly was dissolved.[51]

The Premier and Leader of the Opposition took part in three leaders’ debates on 27 February, 8 March and 13 March 2015.[52]

In a departure from the usual election timetable the Opposition’s official campaign launch was held on Sunday 1 March 2015, before the caretaker period commenced.[53] Apart from opposing the sale of electricity assets, Foley announced plans for jobs and infrastructure projects, a moratorium on coal seam gas activity and aimed to convince voters that the party was electable after four years in opposition.[54] The Nationals launched their campaign on 15 March 2015, with leader Troy Grant speaking in the Wiradjuri language.[55]

The Premier launched the Liberal Party’s official campaign on 22 March 2015, with a ‘centrepiece announcement [of] a $678 million jobs package’.[56] Media reports noted that the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was:

… seen but not heard at the NSW Liberal Party's state election campaign launch, which sought to keep the spotlight firmly on the popular Premier Mike Baird.[57]

On 23 March 2015 a Fairfax/Ipsos poll found that:

… voters are finding it difficult to embrace the idea of Labor back in power after only four years.

A notable statistic in the polling data is that economic management is being nominated by more people as the issue of most importance. Baird and the government have a good track record on this point.

At the official Liberal campaign launch on Sunday, Baird reminded his supporters that, under Labor, NSW was ranked last out of all states and territories on key economic measures – after four years of a Coalition government it is first.

Voters appear to trust him, even to the point where they are backing his government for a second term to implement a policy half of them don’t like.[58]

On 24 March 2015, polling analyst William Bowe noted a similar sentiment among voters, summarised in the title of his article: ‘NSW voters hate Baird's signature policy – but they hate Labor more’.[59] Bowe reported that:

As the New South Wales election campaign enters the home stretch, opinion polls are offering no indication that Labor is gaining the late-campaign momentum it needs to elevate its prospects from recovery to outright victory.

Clearly this says something about Labor's ongoing saleability in the state, because the dominant issue of the campaign is playing heavily in its favour.[60]

During the election campaign, polling and media commentary focussed on the contrast between Mike Baird’s popularity and the performance of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Government.[61] The ‘Abbott factor’ was particularly marked among young NSW voters, with 56 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds reporting in a poll conducted for the Guardian that they were less likely to vote Liberal.[62] The poll, conducted by Lonergan Research, also found that 29 per cent of all voters intended to use their state vote as a protest against federal issues.  Another consistent feature in opinion polls was Mike Baird’s clear lead over Luke Foley as ‘preferred Premier’.[63]

A final Newspoll published on election day found that the Liberal-Nationals Coalition led the ALP by 55 per cent to 45 per cent on a two-party preferred basis and primary vote on 44 per cent (Coalition) to 34 per cent ALP.[64]

Following the election one newspaper identified the five main issues of the election as: electricity privatisation and infrastructure, the Abbott factor, coal seam gas, trust in politics and 2014 federal budget cuts.[65]

Electricity privatisation – the sale of ‘poles and wires’

The main policy difference between the Government and Opposition was the privatisation of electricity assets, the ‘poles and wires’ issue. It was observed that both parties had:

… framed … [the] election as a referendum on the government’s proposal to partially lease the state’s electricity “poles and wires”.[66]

One newspaper suggested that:

Baird has based his entire election campaign on leasing 49 per cent of what’s left of NSW power assets—the retailers and generators have already been flogged off—and using the proceeds to finance an enormous infrastructure program, the bulk of which will go to addressing the biggest issue on Sydney voters’ minds: congestion.[67]

The Nationals were opposed to the sale of electricity assets in regional areas. Central to their policy was the promise to keep 100 per cent of the rural distribution network, Essential Energy, in public hands.[68]

At the first leaders’ debate, on 27 February 2015, Baird responded to questions about the sale of ‘poles and wires’ and the link to infrastructure funding saying there was ‘no plan B’ if he was not able to lease the state’s electricity assets.[69]  Baird said he was going into the election seeking a mandate for 51 per cent government ownership, and leasing 49 per cent.[70]

The electorate did not support the Premier’s plan to partially privatise the state’s electricity network, and the policy was opposed by the Opposition with Foley describing the Government’s proposal as ‘simply not in the public interest’.[71]  In early February 2015 a Fairfax/Ipsos poll revealed that:

… fewer than one in four voters – or 23 per cent – support the partial privatisation of the electricity “poles and wires”.[72]

Five days before the election another Fairfax/Ipsos poll found the issue still remained very unpopular with ‘just 31 per cent supporting the partial sale of the NSW electricity network businesses and 62 per cent against’.[73] But the poll also found that when voters were asked for their view on privatisation with the proceeds being used for infrastructure, voters remained evenly split, with support at 48 per cent and 47 per cent opposed.[74]

One newspaper suggested that, for Mike Baird, the election was ‘all about that gamble [selling poles and wires]. It’s crash or crash through; make a difference or go home.’[75] Baird linked the sale of electricity assets to the state’s ability to fund a $20 billion infrastructure program and promised his plan would:

deliver … an improvement to every person’s daily life in terms of less congestion, less traffic [and] less crowded trains.[76]

Coal seam gas

Coal mining and coal seam gas (CSG) were also issues that attracted media attention during the election campaign.[77] The Guardian reported that:

Coal seam gas remains a salient issue in the campaign, as evidenced by the major parties scrambling to distance themselves from CSG and mining projects.

Labor has proposed a moratorium on CSG across the whole state, and the Coalition has cancelled a number of exploration licences, though critics argue they were the less active licences.[78]

The Coalition Government had released the NSW Gas Plan on 13 November 2014 and acknowledged that CSG was a divisive issue:

Government recognises that gas development in NSW concerns some of our communities, and that mistakes have been made.

A reset to the approach to gas development is clearly required.[79]

Troy Grant, the new leader of the Nationals, was reported as describing CSG as the ‘most polarising issue facing the government’.[80] Two months earlier, the Queensland state election had shown the capacity of CSG to:

Galvanise conservative and environmentalist constituencies when Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones went on the warpath against Campbell Newman in the Queensland campaign.[81]

Former Governor of NSW Dame Marie Bashir announced her opposition to the destruction of fertile Australian farmland for mining, describing it as a crisis.[82]  The conflict between farming and mining, including CSG, was acknowledged as ‘a defining election issue in regional NSW, … [that could] heavily sway results in seats on the north coast and in western NSW’.[83]

Having identified mining and CSG as the number one election issue, the Greens campaigned on these issues in seats in the north-eastern corner of NSW.[84] At one stage the party was on track to win two northern NSW seats, Ballina and Lismore, from the Nationals.  In the final result the Greens won Ballina and the Nationals retained Lismore.

Although CSG was identified as one of the main election issues, a Fairfax/Ipsos poll found that only 8 per cent ranked CSG and mining as the issue most important in deciding their vote, compared to health and hospitals (24 per cent), managing the State’s finances (19 per cent) and education (16 per cent).[85]


The online iVote system used at the 2011 NSW state election was originally implemented as a voting solution for NSW’s 13,000 electors who are blind and 54,000 who have low vision. However, almost all of the 43,025 NSW electors who lodged an electronic vote using a web browser in 2011 were people who stated that they were outside NSW on polling day. Fewer than 500 voters who were blind, had low vision, or who were illiterate lodged an electronic vote online.[86]

At the 2015 state election the iVote system was available to:

… people who are blind or have low-vision, who have a disability, who live more than 20 kilometres from their nearest polling place or who will be interstate or overseas on election day.[87]

The iVote system replaced in person voting for all voters outside NSW on election day.[88]

On 19 March 2015 it was reported that two minor parties, the Outdoor Recreation Party (ORP) and the Animal Justice Party (AJP) were omitted from the ‘above the line’ section of the iVote ballot paper.[89] About 19,000 people had cast an iVote before the system was suspended for some hours. The NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) said that as the names of candidates for these two parties were listed below the line, voters could use this method to vote for these parties and that the 19,000 votes already cast using the iVote system would be considered valid.[90]

The ORP and AJP were involved in a contest for the final place in the Legislative Council and announced that they would consider a legal challenge to the result because, as one candidate said, the iVote error meant ‘we were not above the line for 36 hours’.[91] When the AJP won the final seat the legal challenge did not eventuate.[92]

After the election it was reported that analysis by the NSWEC had found parties on the left of the ballot paper received a much bigger donkey vote than with traditional paper-based voting and, as a result the NSWEC planned to introduce a randomised screen position when voters logged in to iVote.[93]

In March 2015 two academics announced that they had found a security flaw in the iVote system that allowed votes to be exposed or changed without the voter’s knowledge.[94] In response, the NSWEC noted that the vulnerability was not in the iVote system, but in an associated monitoring tool used by the voting system. The NSWEC also noted that the paper did not provide evidence of any actual breach of the iVote production system.[95]

In a report on the operation of iVote the NSWEC noted that:

Some 283,669 electors cast their vote through the iVote system, which set a new world record for the number of electors returning an electronic ballot for a binding parliamentary election.[96]

On the future of iVote the NSWEC concluded:

It is envisaged that iVote will continue to replace postal voting and overseas venues and may be used in the future to take absent votes at all pre-polls and selected high volume polling places. This would mean iVote could take an extra 150,000 votes which would greatly reduce the large number of errors experienced with absent vote handling. The implementation of iVote for these situations would use a verifiable paper trail rather than remote voting’s phone verification service. However, it is not envisaged that iVote will replace in-district voting at polling places and pre-polls using paper ballots which currently represents over 80% of the votes taken at a general election.[97]


Tables 4 and 5 below show party representation (and seats gained and lost) in the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council at the 2015 NSW election.

Table 4: Party representation in the Legislative Assembly in the 56th Parliament

Party Members % Members
Australian Labor Party 34 (+14) 37
Liberal Party of Australia 37 (-14) 40
The Nationals 17 (-1) 18
The Greens 3 (+2) 3
Independents 2 (-1) 2
Total 93 100

Source: New South Wales (NSW) Parliament, ‘Party representation in the Assembly’, NSW Parliament website, accessed 13 July 2015. Changes in seat numbers from A Green, 2015 New South Wales election: analysis of results, op. cit., p. 5.

Table 5: Party representation in the Legislative Council in the 56th Parliament

Party Members % Members
Animal Justice Party 1 (+1) 2
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) 2 5
Australian Labor Party 12 (-2) 28
Liberal Party of Australia 13 (+1) 31
The Greens 5 12
The Nationals 7 17
Shooters and Fishers Party 2 5
Total 42 100

Source: New South Wales (NSW) Parliament, Party representation in the Council, NSW Parliament website, accessed 14 November 2015. (Percentages are rounded to the nearest point.) Changes in seat numbers from A Green, 2015 New South Wales election: analysis of results, op. cit., p. 44.

Legislative Assembly

In the Legislative Assembly, 540 candidates contested the 93 electoral divisions, an increase on the 498 candidates who contested the 2011 election. Table 6 below shows that, after the distribution of preferences, the state-wide two-party preferred percentages were Coalition 54.3 per cent and Labor 45.7 per cent. This represents an overall swing to Labor of 9.9 per cent on the 2011 election result.[98] The 54 seats won by the Coalition has only been bettered proportionally by the 69 seats won at the 2011 election.[99]

Table 6: Seats won, swing and percentage of vote in the Legislative Assembly

Party % Primary vote Swing Two-party preferred swing (a) Seats won(b) (change from 2011 election)
Liberal Party 35.08 -3.50   37 (-14)
National Party 10.55 -2.02   17 (-1)
Total Coalition 45.63
(54.3 2PP)
-5.52 -9.9 54 (-15)
Labor 25.91 +1.89   31 (+12)
Country Labor 8.16 +6.64   3 (+2)
Total Labor 34.07
(45.7 2PP)
+8.53 +9.9 34 (+14)
Greens 10.29   3 (+2)
Independents 3.85 -4.99   2 (-1)
Total       93

Source: A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op. cit., p. 5.
(a) See A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op. cit., p. 33 for a table including two-candidate preferred figures
(b) Note: the change of seats column above is calculated compared to the actual seats won by each party at the 2011 election. If the notional seat holdings following the redistribution were used, the change column would be Liberal (-16), Labor (+16), Greens (+1) and Independents (-1), as shown in the table 7 below.

A uniform swing of 9.9 per cent would have delivered 20 seats to Labor, but the uneven swing resulted in the ALP falling short of this number.[100] Antony Green notes that ‘[t]hree of the government's most marginal seats were retained with small swings to the government, East Hills (0.2 [per cent] margin), Monaro (2.0 [per cent]) and Oatley (3.8 [per cent])’,[101] and that:

The two-party preferred swing to the ALP was 7.9 [per cent] in greater Sydney, 13.6 [per cent] in the Hunter/Illawarra and 12.5 [per cent] in Regional/Rural areas. The swing against the Coalition government was greatest on the Central Coast (13.1 [per cent]) in the Hunter Valley (17.1 [per cent]) where the ICAC donation inquiries were most important, and on the North Coast (19.0 [per cent]) where the Greens campaigned strongly on coal seam gas issues.[102]

Party gains

Table 7 below shows seats that changed party at the 2015 election. It includes three seats won at by-elections and retained at the election.

Table 7: Legislative Assembly seats changing party at the 2015 election

Gaining party Gained from Seats (#)
Labor Party Liberal Party Blue Mountains, Campbelltown, Charlestown (by-election), Gosford, Granville, Londonderry, Macquarie Fields, Maitland, Newcastle (by-election), Port Stephens, Prospect, Rockdale, Strathfield, Swansea, The Entrance, Wyong (16)
Greens Nationals Ballina (1)(a)
Nationals Independent Northern Tablelands (1)

Source: A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op. cit., p. 5
(a) Note: the Greens also won the seat of Newtown. This is seat is not included in Table 7 above as the seat is ‘a new notionally Green held seat with no sitting member’. Source: A Green, New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op. cit., p. 22.

The three seats beyond the 9.9 per cent swing that fell to Labor were The Entrance (11.8 per cent), Gosford (11.9 per cent) and Port Stephens (14.8 per cent). Labor won six of the seven electorates where, as noted above, Liberal candidates stood aside over the ICAC donation inquiries, with only the seat of Terrigal retained by the Liberal Party. [103]

The Green vote in the Assembly was unchanged at 10.3 per cent, but the Party’s selected targeting of seats  saw the number of Green seats won in the lower House increase from one to three (Balmain, Newtown and Ballina). The party came close to winning Lismore but this seat was retained by the National Party.

Legislative Council

A record 394 candidates stood for the Legislative Council, an increase of 83 on the 311 candidates at the 2011 election.

Tables 8 and 9 below show that the Coalition won nine seats, giving it a total of 20 out of the Council’s 42 seats.  It is likely that the Coalition will be able to rely on the support of Reverend Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party to pass legislation including the leasing of poles and wires.[104] As noted in Tables 8 and 9 , the Labor Party did not perform well in the Legislative Council, winning seven seats (a loss of two seats) to give it a total of 12 members.  The Nationals won three seats and the Greens won two. The Nationals total of seven and Greens total of five seats remained unchanged in the Council (see Table 9 below). The Animal Justice Party won its first seat with 1.8 per cent (0.29 quotas) and 2.1 per cent (0.47 quotas) after preferences.[105]

Table 8: Seats won, swing and percentage of vote in the Legislative Council

Party % vote Swing Seats won
Liberal/Nationals 42.61 -5.06 9
(Lib: 6, Nat: 3)
Labor/Country Labor 31.09 +7.36 7
The Greens 9.92 -1.20 2
Shooters and Fishers (SFP) 3.89 +0.19 1
Christian Democratic Party (CDP) 2.93 -0.20 1
Animal Justice Party (AJP) 1.78 +1.78 1
Total     21

Source: A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op. cit., p. 44.

Table 8 shows that the Coalition won 42.6 per cent of the vote, with a swing against the Liberal/Nationals Parties of five per cent. The Labor vote of 31.1 per cent represented a swing of 7.4 per cent to the ALP, while the Greens vote share declined from 11.1 per cent to 9.9 per cent.

Table 9: Party Composition in the Legislative Council in the 55th and 56th Parliaments

  Liberal National ALP Green CDP SFP AJP Seats
55th Parliament 12 7 14 5 2 2 - 42
56th Parliament 13 7 12 5 2 2 1 42

Source: A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op. cit., p. 44.

A very high proportion of all Legislative Council ballot papers (98.3 per cent) were counted as ‘above the line’ votes, with only 1.7 per cent 'below the line'. Only 15.3 per cent of formal ballot papers used the ‘above the line’ preference option introduced at the 2003 election.[106]


Table 10 below shows that female representation in the Legislative Assembly has increased to 28 (30 per cent) after the 2015 election from 21 (22.6 per cent) in 2011.  The party breakdown of female members shows that 11 out of 54 Coalition members or 20 per cent are women; 15 of 34 Labor members (44 per cent) and 2 out of 3 Greens or 66.7 per cent are women. The two independent members are male.

Table 10: Legislative Assembly gender breakdown

Election 2015 2011
  Number % Number %
Female 28
ALP: 15 (44.1%)
LP:  8 (21.6%)
NATS: 3 (17.6%)
GRN:   2 (66.7%)
30 21
ALP: 9 (45.0 %)
LP: 9 (17.6%)
NATS: 2 (11.1%)
IND: 1 (33.3%)
Male 65 70 72 77.4
Total 93 100 93 100

Source: compiled by the Parliamentary Library from J McCann and H Gobbett, Composition of Australian parliaments by party and gender: a quick guide, Research paper, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2 October 2015, accessed 2 February 2016 and from previous Parliamentary Library publications on the composition of Australian parliaments.

Table 11 below shows that total female representation in the Legislative Council has fallen from 13 (31 per cent) in 2011 to 10 (24 per cent) after the 2015 election. The party breakdown of female members in the upper house shows that four out of 20 Coalition Members or 20 per cent are women; four of 12 of Labor members (33.3 per cent) are women and two out of five Greens members (40 per cent) are women. The remaining members of minor parties (Animal Justice Party (1), Christian Democratic Party (2) and the Shooters and Fishers Party (2)) are all male.

Table 11: Legislative Council gender breakdown

Election 2015 2011
  Number % Number %
Female 10
ALP: 4 (33.3%)
LP: 2 (15.4%)
NATS: 2 (28.6%)
GRN: 2 (40.0%)
23.8 13
ALP: 5 (35.7%)
LP: 3 (25.0%)
NATS: 3 (42.9%)
GRN: 2 (40.0%)
Male 32 76 29 69.0
Total 42 100 42 100

Source: compiled by the Parliamentary Library from J McCann and H Gobbett, Composition of Australian parliaments by party and gender: a quick guide, Research paper, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2 October 2015, accessed 2 February 2016 and from previous Parliamentary Library publications on the composition of Australian parliaments.

The new Baird Ministry includes the same number of women as that of the previous ministry, five from a total of 22 (22.7%), including the first female Treasurer (Gladys Berejiklian) and Attorney-General (Gabrielle Upton). Four of 16 parliamentary secretaries are also female.[107]

Pre-poll votes

Over the past decade election analysts and academics have observed a decline in voting on polling day in the Australian electoral system. There is now a:

… significant shift towards ‘convenience’ voting in many western democracies: a shift which threatens to deconstruct the very notion of election day.[108]

Convenience voting has been described as the relaxation of ‘administrative rules and procedures by which citizens can cast a ballot at a time and place other than the precinct on election day’.[109]  It covers two forms of early voting: postal voting and pre-poll voting in person.[110]

Election analyst Antony Green noted that the 2015 NSW election showed a continuation of this rise of early voting and the decline in voting on polling day.[111] In 1984, postal votes comprised 1.4 per cent of the vote and pre-poll votes 0.8 per cent; in 2015 postal votes were 4.6 per cent, pre-poll votes 14.2 per cent and the new category of iVotes 6.3 per cent.[112] This means that:

There has been a ten-fold increase in the proportion of votes cast before polling day, up from 2.2 per cent in 1984 to 25.1 per cent in 2015.[113]

At the 2015 NSW election the number of postal votes cast (4.6 per cent) declined in comparison with the 2011 election (5.7 per cent). Green suggests that one reason for this was the prominence given to iVote by the NSWEC.[114]  He also believes that:

Postal voting is certain to decline further … due to growing cost and declining frequency of delivery. Postal voting has always been lower at NSW elections because the campaign is only three weeks compared to four weeks in other states and five weeks for federal elections.[115]

It is worth noting that pre-poll, postal and iVotes all have lower levels of informal voting compared with votes cast at a polling booth on election day.[116]

In its most recent annual report, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) noted the growth in pre-poll votes at the 2013 federal election:

Continuing the trend from previous elections, there was a significant shift towards early voting. Votes cast before election day in 2013, which included 1.98 million ordinary pre‑poll votes, represented more than 27 per cent of all votes counted – some 1.37 million more early votes than were counted in the 2010 federal election.[117]

The AEC also reported an increase in the number of voters in the 2014 Western Australian Senate election who cast pre-poll and postal votes than in the 2013 election.[118]

Federal implications

Polling analyst William Bowe has suggested that federal implications of state elections are ‘at all times a fraught question’.[119] Despite this, commentators and election analysts have considered the federal implications of the 2015 NSW election for the major parties and the Greens.

A number of commentators compared the style and ability of the Premier and (now former) Prime Minister Tony Abbott to sell an unpopular message, for example:

… Baird had proved that a Coalition leader could convince voters to support a free-market policy they didn’t necessarily agree with.[120]

One observer believed that Baird had demonstrated in his campaign ‘how Liberal leaders should campaign and behave’.[121]

A number of commentators referred to the negative campaign run by Luke Foley and the danger for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of being a ‘federal Foley’.[122] Journalist Michelle Grattan suggested that:

The NSW result will put some pressure on Bill Shorten to be more positive, after the failure of Luke Foley’s highly negative campaign.[123]

The dangers involved in conducting a negative campaign were examined by former Labor senator and now manager of a demographic profiling company, John Black, who found that:

The negative scare campaign by Labor proved a complete dog with middle-class voters and professionals in the sort of seats Labor lost in 2011. While Labor won big swings from poorer seats, the middle class and professional suburbs swung even further to the Coalition than they had in 2011 when Labor’s vote was decimated by an average statewide swing of 14.6 per cent. This minimised Labor gains in some traditional Labor seats lost in 2011, like Parramatta and Drummoyne.

The federal implications for the major parties seem to be that Labor can get close to a majority of seats with a negative campaign targeted at lower socio economic status, traditional Labor voters, so long as the economy is going bad and the federal Coalition is led by a leader as unpopular as Campbell Newman was in Queensland.[124]

On the performance of the Greens in inner city and some north coast electorates it was noted that:

The election had fascinating implications for the federal Labor Party … it crystallised the threat from the left. The Greens withstood huge Labor efforts to take back the inner-city seats of Newtown and Balmain, suburbs once considered the core of Labor support … Anger about coal mines, coal-seam gas drilling and Australia’s tough refugee policies had driven many voters to the Greens, who received more votes in the election than the Nationals.[125]

Although the Greens did not improve on the party’s 2011 position, another commentator suggested that the Greens:

… have emerged as serious parliamentary players who threaten not only Labor (from the Left) but also the Nationals in environmentally sensitive seats.[126]

On Labor’s performance in Sydney seats, William Bowe noted that:

Labor's strongest recoveries tended to occur in the most ethnically diverse areas of western Sydney, which correspond with the unloseable federal seats of Blaxland, McMahon and Fowler. Of the 54 seats encompassing the Sydney metropolitan area, two out of the three biggest swings to Labor were in Cabramatta and Fairfield, which collectively constitute the hub of Sydney's Vietnamese community.

But in some of the less cosmopolitan areas, the Liberals actually managed to outperform the 2011 landslide — and these tend to be the areas where Labor most needs to recover ground federally.

The seats of Reid in Sydney's inner west and Banks further to the south were lost by Labor at the 2013 federal election for the first time in respective histories going back to 1922 and 1949.

Much of the Banks territory is accounted for by the state seats of East Hills and Oatley, where Labor suffered what were perhaps its two worst results of the election, with the Liberals successfully defending a 0.2% margin in the former case and picking up a swing of nearly 3% in the latter.

Another two of the five seats that swung to the Liberals were Drummoyne and Auburn (the latter being an inauspicious result for Luke Foley, who was using the seat for his move from the upper to the lower house), which all but perfectly align with Reid.[127]

Appendix 1: 2015 New South Wales Post-Election Pendulum

Liberal/National (37/17)
Lismore (NAT v GRN 2.9%) 0.2  
East Hills 0.4  
Upper Hunter (NAT) 2.2  
Monaro (NAT) 2.5  
Coogee 2.9  
Tweed (NAT) 3.2  
Penrith 6.2  
Goulburn 6.6  
Oatley 6.6  
Holsworthy 6.7  
Sydney (IND Held) 6.7  
Heathcote 7.6  
Bega 8.2  
Kiama 8.7  
Seven Hills 8.7  
Myall Lakes (NAT) 8.7  
Terrigal 9.0  
South Coast 9.6  
Mulgoa 9.7  
Clarence (NAT) 9.7  
Oxley (NAT) 10.9  
Ryde 11.5  
Riverstone 12.2  
Parramatta 12.9  
Wagga Wagga 12.9  
Barwon (NAT) 12.9  
Miranda 13.0  
Albury 13.2  
Coffs Harbour (NAT) 14.3  
Bathurst (NAT) 15.8  
Epping 16.2  
Wollondilly 17.3  
Hawkesbury 17.8  
Lane Cove 17.8  
Camden 18.3  
Drummoyne 18.8  
Hornsby 18.9  
Port Macquarie (NAT) 19.0  
Cootamundra (NAT) 20.4  
Dubbo (NAT) 20.4  
Cronulla 20.9  
Orange (NAT) 21.7  
Baulkham Hills 21.8  
North Shore (LIB v GRN 21.2) 21.9  
Ku-ring-gai 23.0  
Willoughby (LIB v GRN 24.4) 23.8  
Wakehurst 25.2  
Murray (NAT v IND 22.7) 25.2  
Vaucluse (LIB v GRN 22.9) 25.3  
Northern Tablelands (NAT) 27.1  
Pittwater (LIB v GRN 25.7) 27.9  
Manly (LIB v GRN 24.5) 28.4  
Tamworth (NAT v IND 10.0) 28.9  
Davidson (LIB v GRN 28.8) 29.0  
Castle Hill 29.4  
Labor (34)
Gosford 0.2  
The Entrance 0.4  
Strathfield 1.8  
Granville 2.1  
Ballina (GRN held) 3.0  
Prospect 3.4  
Port Stephens 4.7  
Rockdale 4.8  
Auburn 5.9  
Kogarah 6.9  
Campbelltown 7.3  
Newcastle 7.4  
Blue Mountains 8.1  
Macquarie Fields 8.1  
Wyong 8.7  
Londonderry 8.8  
Maroubra 10.8  
Charlestown 12.9  
Swansea 13.0  
Blacktown 13.2  
Lake Macquarie (IND held) 13.2  
Wollongong (ALP v IND 8.9) 13.4  
Maitland 13.8  
Bankstown 14.0  
Heffron 14.1  
Mount Druitt 15.4  
Canterbury 15.7  
Balmain (GRN held) 15.8  
Shellharbour 17.0  
Cabramatta 17.2  
Keira 17.4  
Fairfield 17.8  
Summer Hill (ALP v GRN 10.5) 20.1  
Wallsend 20.8  
Liverpool 20.9  
Lakemba 21.6  
Cessnock 22.0  
Newtown (GRN held) 24.4  


 Greens (3) / Independents (2)
Ballina 3.1  
Balmain 4.7  
Sydney 8.1  
Newtown 9.3  
Lake Macquarie 10.7  



Source: A Green, ‘Final NSW election results, preferences and a new pendulum’, Antony Green’s election blog, 13 April 2015, accessed 9 December 2015. 

Antony Green has noted the following points on the pendulum above:

  • The table sets out the post-election pendulum for New South Wales. All electorates are shown with their two-party preferred margin. The five electorates won by Greens and Independents are shown twice, once with the actual two-candidate preferred results, and also with their notional 2-party preferred margin in either the Labor or Coalition column.
  • Eleven other electorates also have their actual 2-candidate preferred result shown.
  • To govern in majority in the Legislative Assembly, a party needs to hold 47 seats.
  • With 54 seats the Coalition would lose eight seats and majority government on a uniform swing of 6.6%.
  • With 34 seats, Labor needs to gain 13 seats for majority government, a uniform swing of 8.2%.
  • A uniform swing of between 6.6% and 8.2% could produce majority government.
  • However, with 11 seats in the key battleground region of 6-9%, it will be the swing in individual key seats rather than any uniform swing that will determine the result of the 2019 state election.[128]


[1].         Constitution Act 1902 (NSW), accessed 9 October 2015.

[2].         Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912 (NSW), accessed 9 October 2015.

[3].         NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) website, accessed 9 October 2015.

[4].         D Atkins, ‘Political pundits’ eyes on Abbott as NSW poll looms’, Courier Mail, 11 March 2015, p. 20, accessed 16 September 2015.

[5].         P Coorey, ‘Raft of issues that dare not speak their name’, Australian Financial Review, 28 March 2015, p. 55, accessed 16 September 2015.

[6].         See, for example, A Ferguson, ‘The brutal politics of privatisation’, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 February 2015, p. 19, accessed 16 September 2015.

[7].         See, for example, J Massola and M Kenny, ‘Abbott’s “near death experience”’, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 February 2015, p. 1, accessed 25 September 2015.

[8].         ‘High 5: key issues of the election’, Sun Herald, 29 March 2015, accessed 5 February 2016.

[9].         See A Green, 2015 New South Wales election: analysis of results, Background Paper No. 1/2015, NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service, and A Green, NSW Legislative Assembly election 2015: Two-party preferred results by polling place, Background Paper No. 2/2015, NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service, accessed 30 September 2015.

[10].      B Holmes, 2011 NSW election, Background note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 23 June 2011, p.25, accessed 30 September 2015.

[11].      J Arditi, NSW state election 2011: overview of Legislative Assembly results, Briefing Paper No 02/2011, NSW Parliamentary Research Service, Sydney, June 2011, p. 2, accessed 1 September 2015.

[12].      See Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) website for more details on Operations Jasper and Acacia and Indus, Operation Jarilo Operation Acacia and Operation Napier, accessed 11 September 2015 and  Operation Corinth and Operation Syracuse, accessed 27 May 2016. See also G Winestock, ‘Tripodi joins Obeid in ICAC’s shame file’, Australian Financial Review, 6 June 2014, p. 2, M Coultan, ‘Charges urged after Eddie Obeid found corrupt again’, Australian, 6 June 2014, p. 1, K McClymont, D Snow and M Whitbourn, ‘Obeid’s tangled web snares Tripodi’, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 November 2013, p. 5 and A Dale, ‘ICAC tables turn on Joe’, Daily Telegraph, 2 November 2013, p. 1. See also L Besser, ‘Labor’s nightmare without end’, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 May 2013, p. 3, all accessed 1 May 2016.

[13].      Ibid., Operation Indus.

[15].      The reports were delayed by the High Court’s decision in ICAC v Cunneen [2015] HCA 14.  The outcome of this case and resulting NSW legislation affected the basis of the Commission's powers with respect to significant parts of Operations Credo and Spicer. See ICAC, ‘Operations Credo and Spicer: directions’ 18 December 2015, accessed 1 February 2016. At the time of writing the reports have not been released.

[16].      This list does not include Senator Arthur Sinodinos (in the federal Parliament).  On 19 March 2014 Sinodinos announced that, as he had been called as a witness to the ICAC’s inquiry into Australian Water Holdings Pty Ltd, he would stand aside as Assistant Treasurer. See A Sinodinos, ’Matter of Public Interest: Australian Water Holdings’, Senate, Debates, 19 March 2014, accessed 2 October 2015.

[17].      Parliament of New South Wales website, Former members, The Hon. Barry Robert O’Farrell, accessed 19 September 2015.

[18].      See, for example, S Gerathy, ‘Chris Hartcher, Darren Webber and Chris Spence step down from Liberal Party amid corruption claims’, ABC News, 19 February 2014, accessed 15 October 2015.

[19].      M Whitbourn and K McClymont, ‘Another Liberal stands aside’, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 August 2014, p. 1, accessed 19 October 2015.

[20].      Former members op. cit., Ms Marie Ann Ficarra.

[21].      G Winestock, ‘The Liberals cop a hospital pass’, Australian Financial Review, 29 April 2014, p. 8,  accessed 19 October 2015.

[22].      Former members, op. cit., Mr (Tim) Timothy Francis Owen.

[23].      Former members, op. cit.,  Mr Andrew Stuart Cornwell.

[24].      M Whitbourn and K McClymont,’Another Liberal stands aside’, op. cit.

[25].      M Whitbourn and K McClymont, ‘Liberal MP becomes the latest scalp’, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 September 2014, p. 3, accessed 20 October 2015.

[26].      M Whitbourn and K McClymont,’Another Liberal stands aside’, op. cit.

[27].      ‘NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell to resign over 'massive memory fail' at ICAC’, ABC News, 16 April 2014, updated 17 April 2014, accessed 26 October  2015.

[28].      S Nicholls, ‘Transformer’, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 2014, p. 1, accessed 26 October 2015.

[29].      Ibid.

[30].      W Glasgow, ‘Grant to lead NSW Nationals’, Australian Financial Review, 16 October 2014, p. 6, accessed 26 October 2015.

[31].       N Hasham, ‘New Nationals leader a knockabout everyman’, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 October 2014, p. 6, accessed 26 October 2015.

[32].      J Robertson, J Saulwich, S Nicholls, ‘Labor leader faces day of reckoning over Monis note’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 December 2014, p. 1, accessed 26 October 2015.

[33].      M Coultan, ‘I’ll stand up to Abbott, says new ALP leader’, The Australian, 6 January 2015, accessed 26 October 2015.

[34].      A Clennell, ‘”Anyone but Robertson” factor puts ALP back in election race’, Daily Telegraph, 10 January 2015, p. 9, accessed 26 October 2015.

[35].      S Nicholls, ‘Sitting comfortably in the seat of power’, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 March 2013, p. 8, accessed 9 November 2015.

[36].      W Glasgow, ‘Liberal rot stops in NSW: poll’, Australian Financial Review, 9 February 2015, p. 1, accessed 27 October 2015.

[37].      S Nicholls, ‘Coalition emerges from ICAC ahead of Labor’, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 2014 and M Coultan, ‘Baird loses off ICAC mud to soar as premier pick’, The Australian, 30 October 2014, accessed 9 November 2015.

[38].      M Coultan and D Box, ‘Rudderless Labor faces wipeout after Robertson resignation’, The Australian, 24 December 2014, p. 1, accessed 26 October 2015.

[39].      W Glasgow, ‘Liberal rot strops in NSW: poll’, op. cit.

[40].      A Clennell, ‘An identity crisis issue for Foley and Labor’, Daily Telegraph, 10 January 2015,p. 1,  accessed 9 November 2015.

[41].      A Green, ‘NSW Liberal Party Chooses not to Contest Looming By-elections’, Antony Green’s election blog, 17 August 2014, accessed 9 November 2015.

[42].      A Green, ‘Labor to skip the Sydney by-election’, ibid., 30 September 2012. See also Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) s. 275 (1) (a1), (5)-(7), accessed 2 February 2016.

[43].      See 2013 NSW redistribution website, accessed 6 November 2015.

[44].      For more details on the significance of the changes see A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op.cit, p. 58 and A Green, 2013 New South Wales redistribution: analysis of final electoral boundaries, Background Paper No. 2/2013, NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service, accessed 9 November 2015.

[45].      A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op.cit, p. 58.

[46].      T Allard and D Wroe, ‘Terror in the city: hostages taken amid fears of links to militants’, Canberra Times, 16 December 2014, p. 1, accessed 24 November 2015.

[47].      Ibid.

[48].      K Needham, ‘Premier guides from sea of flowers moved by city intimacy’, Sun-Herald, 21 December 2014, p. 40, accessed 24 November 2015.

[49].      A Clark, ‘NSW puts on a good fight’, Australian Financial Review, 25 March 2015, p. 48, accessed 9 November 2015.

[50].      A Green, ‘Labor needs gigantic swing but Queensland shows the way’, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 March 2015, p. 4, accessed 9 November 2015.

[51].      See Department of Premier and Cabinet, ‘’Caretaker’ conventions and other pre-election practices - 2015 general state election’,  20 November 2014, accessed 25 November 2015.

[52].      For reports on these debates see S Nicholls, 'No plan B' gift to Labor’, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 February 2015, p. 11, A Clennell, ‘Split decision perhaps, but Foley needs much more if he is seeking to impress’, Daily Telegraph, 9 March 2015, p. 4  and L Foschia, ‘NSW election 2015: Luke Foley, Mike Baird face off over electricity privatisation in leaders' debate’, ABC news, 16 March 2015,  all accessed 14 November 2015.

[53].      L Foley, ‘NSW Labor leader Luke Foley: campaign launch speech’, Sydney, 1 March 2015, accessed 24 November 2015.

[54].      Ibid.

[55].      G Griffiths, ‘State election 2015’, Briefing Book, NSW Parliamentary Research Service, April 2015, p. 13, accessed 1 December 2015.

[56].      S Nicholls, ‘Baird powers ahead’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 March 2015, p. 1, accessed 4 December 2015

[57].      See, for example, S Gerathy, ‘NSW Election 2015: Tony Abbott, John Howard join Mike Baird for NSW Liberal election campaign launch in Sydney’, ABC News, 22 March 2015, accessed 15 October 2015.

[58].      S Nicholls, ‘Baird’s popularity rises above power sale fears’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 March 2015, p. 4, accessed 4 December 2015.

[59].      W Bowe, ‘NSW voters hate Baird's signature policy -- but they hate Labor more’, Crikey, 24 March 2015, accessed 4 December 2015.

[60].      Ibid.

[61].      G Griffiths, ‘State election 2015’, Briefing Book, op. cit., pp. 13–14.

[62].      Ibid., and G Chan, ‘New South Wales election: poll shows Mike Baird holds commanding lead’, Guardian Australia, 18 March 2015, accessed 1 December 2015.

[63].      S Nicholls, ‘Baird’s popularity rises above power sale fears’, op. cit., 23 March 2015.

[64].      M Coultan, ‘Baird set to win as ALP scares fall flat’, Weekend Australian, 28 March 2015, p. 1, accessed 11 December 2015.

[65].      ‘High 5: key issues of the election’, Sun Herald, op. cit.

[66].      N Hasham, ‘Any win a mandate to privatise: Baird’, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 March 2015, p. 12, accesses 28 November 2015.

[67].      M Coultan, ‘Why Baird’s unlikely to be knocked off his feet’, Weekend Australian, 14 February 2015,p. 21,  accessed 28 November 2015.

[68].      A Mitchell, ‘Nats turn on Libs as NSW election draws near’, Crikey, 16 March 2015, accessed 18 December 2015.

[69].      M Safi, ‘Mike Baird and Luke Foley face off in leaders’ debate’, Guardian NSW election 2015 weblog, 27 February 2015, accessed 4 December 2015.

[70].      Ibid.

[71].      L Foley, ‘NSW Labor leader Luke Foley: campaign launch speech’, op. cit., p. 5.

[72].      S Nicholls and N Hasham, ‘Support for Baird’s privatisation plan falls to 23pc’, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 February 2015, p. 8, accessed 15 July 2015.

[73].      S Nicholls, ‘Baird powers ahead’, op. cit. See also S Nicholls, ‘Baird’s popularity rises above power sale fears’, op. cit.

[74].      Ibid.

[75].      M Coultan, ‘Selling the Baird necessities’, Weekend Australian, 21 March 2015, p. 18, accessed 25 November 2015.

[76].      Quoted in N Hasham, ‘Any win a mandate to privatise: Baird’, op. cit.

[77].      G Griffiths, ‘State election 2015’, Briefing Book, op. cit.

[78].      G Chan, ‘New South Wales election: poll shows Mike Baird holds commanding lead’, op. cit., 18 March 2015.

[79].      NSW Government, NSW gas plan, 13 November 2014, p. 2, accessed 11 December 2015.

[80].      Quoted in A Mitchell, ‘Coal seam gas debate splinters coalition’, Crikey, 14 November 2014, accessed 18 December 2015.

[81].      W Bowe, ‘Poll Bludger: NSW Nationals under threat as Labor gets serious on CSG’, Crikey, 10 March 2015, accessed 18 December 2015.

[82].      N Hasham, ‘Dame Marie pleads for protection of farmland’, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 March 2015, p. 1, accessed 18 December 2015.

[83].      Ibid.

[84].      For a list of key election issues identified by the Greens see P West, ‘New South Wales election: the Greens’, On Line Opinion, 3 March 2015, accessed 11 December 2015.

[85].      Quoted in G Griffiths, op. cit., see also S Nicholls, ‘Baird’s popularity rises above power sale fears’, op. cit., 23 March 2015.

[86].      D Muller, ‘iVote, therefore I am’, FlagPost, 16 March 2015, accessed 11 December 2015.

[87].      Ibid., and NSWEC website, ‘iVote: frequently asked questions’, accessed 11 December 2015.

[88].      NSWEC, ‘Interstate and overseas voting changes’, media release, 26 February 2015, accessed 12 November 2015.

[89].      N Hasham, ’19,000 electronic votes valid despite error on ballot paper’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 March 2015, p. 9, accessed 11 December 2015.

[90].      Ibid.

[91].      N Hasham, ‘IVote glitch raises prospect of legal bid and return to polls’, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 March 2015, p. 4, accessed 11 December 2015.

[92].      For more information on the count see  NSWEC website, ‘Legislative Council count explanation’, accessed 11 December 2015.

[93].      M Coultan, ‘Left-leaning bias distorted the ivote’, The Australian, 15 May 2015, p. 3, accessed 13 November 2015.

[94].      See, for example, A Halderman and V Teague, ‘Thousands of NSW election online votes open to tampering’, The Conversation, 23 March 2015, accessed 11 December 2015.

[95].      NSWEC, ‘Response to suggestion iVote system is vulnerable to cyber attack’, media release, 23 March 2015, accessed 12 November 2015.

[96].      I Brightwell, J Cucurull, D Galindo and S Guasch, ‘An overview of the iVote 2015 voting system’, NSWEC website, iVote reports, n.d. 2015, accessed 22 December 2015.

[97].      Ibid.

[98].       A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op. cit, pp. 3-4. See also A Green, ‘Final NSW election results, preferences and a new pendulum’, Antony Green’s election blog, 13 April  2015, accessed 11 December 2015.

[99].      Ibid.

[100].   Ibid.

[101].    Ibid.            Newspaper reports suggested that the Labor candidate for the seat of East Hills, Cameron Murphy, was ‘the victim of an unprecedented smear campaign’ that began at the beginning of March 2015. See for example A Davies, ‘The dirtiest of politics: How Labor's East Hills campaign was destroyed by mud that stuck, but whodunnit?’, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 April 2015, p. 12, accessed 10 December 2015.

[102].             A Green, 2015 New South Wales Election: analysis of results, op. cit., pp. 3-4.

[103].   Ibid.

[104].   Nile’s support was contingent on an inquiry being conducted into the sale of electricity assets, see, for example N Hasham, ‘Critics decry poles and wires inquiry’, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April 2015, p. 11, accessed 12 December 2015.  On 25 November 2015 the NSW Premier and Treasurer announced the successful lease of high voltage electricity asset Transgrid. See M Baird and G Berejiklian, ‘NSW achieves outstanding result in $10.258 billion TransGrid lease’, media release, 25 November 2015, accessed 2 February 2016.

[105].   For additional information on electing members of the Legislative Council see A Green, ‘The Battle for the NSW Legislative Council’, Antony Green’s election blog, 9 March 2015, accessed 11 December 2015.

[106].   A Green, 2015 New South Wales election: analysis of results, op. cit., see ‘Statistical highlights’, pp 3–4.

[107].   G Griffiths, State election 2015’, Briefing Book, op. cit., p. 14. The full ministry list is available on the NSW Parliament website, accessed 11 February 2016.

[108].   G Orr, ‘Convenience voting: the end of election day?’, Alternative Law Journal, 39 (3), January 2014, accessed 12 December 2015.

[109].   Quoted in ibid.

[110].   Ibid.

[111].   A Green, ‘The growth of early voting at NSW elections 1984 to 2015’,  Antony Green’s election blog, 17 July  2015, accessed 9 December 2015.

[112].   Ibid.

[113].   Ibid.

[114].   Ibid.

[115].   ibid.

[116].   Ibid.

[117].   Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), Annual report 2013–14, AEC, p. 38, accessed 4 February 2016.

[118].   Ibid., p. 45.

[119].   W Bowe, ‘Poll Bludger: Liberal win more than some can Baird’, Crikey, 20 April 2015, accessed 4 February 2016.

[120].   A Patrick, Credlin & Co, Black Ink, Melbourne, 2016, p. 196.

[121].   A Mitchell, ‘Libs hang on in NSW, but do they have a poles-and-wires mandate?’, Crikey, 30 March 2015, accessed 2 February 2016.

[122].   L Oakes, ‘Shorten feels the NSW heat’, Herald Sun, 28 March 2015, p. 54, accessed 5 February 2016.

[123].   M Grattan, ‘Bold Baird's win in NSW is good news for Abbott, but for how long?’, The Conversation, 29 March 2015, accessed 3 February 2016.

[124].   J Black, ‘Where the negativity didn’t bit for Labor’, Weekend Australian, 4 April 2015, p. 14, accessed 5 February 2016.

[125].   A Patrick, op. cit.

[126].   A Mitchell, Crikey, op. cit.

[127].   W Bowe, ‘Poll Bludger: Liberal win more than some can Baird’, op. cit.

[128].    A Green, Final NSW election results, preferences and a new pendulum’, Antony Green’s election blog, op. cit.


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