The wave came to the coast: polling in the changing seat of Coogee

Annette Moran

Good news from the NSW state election came from Sydney's eastern suburbs. 

By Annette Moran, ETU National Industrial Officer

I worked on a booth in the Coogee electorate, a seat that had been held by the Liberals for the past eight years.

We were determined to win it back and thanks to the strong efforts of Marjorie O'Neill, it looks like Coogee will be the brightest light in an otherwise dark day for Labor.

Star candidate Marjorie O'Neill (L) with ETU NSW Ops Manager George Houssos (C) and former NSW Labor Premier Bob Carr (R)

The area, that encompasses Kingsford, NSW University and Prince of Wales Hospital, has become emblematic of the NSW Liberal Government’s failings and mismanagement.

Poor funding decisions and infrastructure planning are stark on Anzac Parade where the excessive expenditure on the Sydney light rail expansion has seen the project limp along from debacle to debacle, and at Moore Park, where nearly $900 million taxpayer dollars are being used to knock down and rebuild the Sydney Football Stadium.

ETU members out in Sydney's east.

Add to these more local issues that have upset voters in the electorate, including closed bus routes and the chopping down of the old oak trees that lined Anzac Parade. 


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And of course, there was the nurse-to-patient ratios at the local hospital (and hats off to the Nurses and Midwives Federation who ran a strong campaign calling for a 1:3 ratio in NSW emergency departments and maternity wards).  

NSW Organisers Steve Bankes (L) and Anthony O'Sullivan (R)

Hard-working Colin Waring was out at pre-polling stations all day, every day
These were matters Labor backed and wanted to address. Unfortunately, there are some people who see voting as an opportunity
to vent their frustrations on the person handing them a how-to-vote card, even though I, as a local, was right on board for most of the gripes.  

Still, it’s interesting to hear what people are upset about and it was great working on a booth in a seat that was on a knife edge – every vote mattered and every interaction with voters mattered.


And it helped working for a candidate who was working so hard. 

A local councillor, Marjorie O’Neill is a fifth-generation eastern suburbs local who knows the area and the issues.  

She has PhD in management but is a committed trade unionist and will be a terrific local member. 

When polls closed on the tight contest I got to scrutineer and enjoyed being part of the vote-counting process that happens after you cast your ballot.

ETU members alongside NMWF members and ALP candidate Maryanne Stuart (third from left)

Although the overall result was disappointing, the let-down was tempered by the knowledge we had wrestled the seat away from the sitting Liberal member.

Coogee was one of only four seats to change parties on the day (at the time of writing), including Lismore in the state’s north (a Labor gain from the Nationals) as well as Barwon and Murray (both picked up from the Nats by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers).


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