Labor, Greens tilt at Liberal stronghold

Jun 29, 2016 Cristian Minale, Selin Kement, Rosemary Hill
The seat of Bradfield, photography by Selin Kement
Sitting Member:
Fletcher, P (LP)
2009 (By-election)
Size of electorate:
101 sq. Km

Redistribution details:

Bradfield stretches from Castle Cove to North Turramurra. Bradfield recently gained Castle Cove and parts of Chatswood and lost parts of Normanhurst, Thornleigh and Pennant Hills with minimal effect on the margin.

Sitting Member

Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government, Mr Paul Fletcher was elected to Bradfield at the 2009 by-election caused by the resignation of Brendan Nelson. He served as Parliamentary Secretary to then Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull from 18/9/13 to 21/9/15. Mr Fletcher has not been a senator or held another seat and there has been no gap in service.

Key Comments

Created in 1949, inner-metropolitan Bradfield is considered to be the safest metropolitan Coalition seat. Bradfield residents are long-lived, high earning, highly educated people with a high rate of home ownership, couples with children and school attendees. Major issues include the NorthConnex, business, aged care, tax policy and high-rise development.

Electorate Profile

Traffic woes and tax tussles are unlikely to unseat MP Paul Fletcher from the Liberal stronghold of Bradfield.

Despite public concerns about the $3 billion NorthConnex project, Mr Fletcher predicts the twin-tunnel project will cut congestion in Bradfield, create 8,700 construction jobs and inject $4 billion into the NSW economy.

“Today heavy congestion along Pennant Hills Road has a very serious impact on communities such as Wahroonga, Normanhurst and Thornleigh," Mr Fletcher has said.

NorthConnex Community Involvement Group member Margaret Murray, of Thornleigh, has reportedly predicted chaos in the back streets as drivers develop rat runs to cope with the changes and Labor and the Greens have raised concerns about pollution from the chimneys.

Mr Fletcher, the federal Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects, has said NorthConnex will cut travel times and take thousands of trucks off Pennant Hills Road.

“NorthConnex will be capable of carrying more than 100,000 vehicles a day and will remove around 5,000 trucks daily from the heavily congested Pennant Hills Road corridor," he said in an online statement.

Labor candidate for Bradfield Katie Gompertz is concerned about the NorthConnex chimneys.

“I have a very young family, and an asthmatic niece so I have concerns,” she said.

“I think if we spend more on public transport the we wouldn’t need to spend billions of dollars on a tunnel that will be privatised and tolled.”

Greens candidate Adrian Jones agrees that the emission stacks are the major concern.
"The northwestern part will be adversely affected by the smoke stacks that they’re going to be using for ventilation," Mr Jones told UniPollWatch in an interview.

The developers have ignored doctors' warnings and previous RTA recommendations on filters, said filtration of emissions would be too costly, and opted to build unfiltered chimneys, he said.

The two exhaust stacks will be situated at the ends of the tunnels, at Wahroonga and West Pennant Hills.

A spokesperson from the Road and Maritime Services said the tunnel air will be safe. “An in-tunnel monitoring system will constantly measure air quality and provide live results to the public," the spokesperson said.
"The NorthConnex ventilation system has been designed to ensure it meets strict air quality standards,” the spokesperson said.

NorthConnex will cost an estimated $3 billion, and will be mostly funded through toll charges. The Commonwealth Government and NSW Government have pledged to contribute $412 million each towards its construction.

The NorthConnex, scheduled to open in 2019, is expected to have twin nine-kilometre tunnels, running from North Wahroonga and the M1 Pacific Motorway, burrowing under Pennant Hills Road and linking onto the M2 Motorway at West Pennant Hills.

Mr Fletcher's rivals also take issue with his support for tax cuts for small business and widening the eligibility for businesses to be benefit from reduced taxes.

Ms Gompertz said the tax policy changes needed in Australia are the abolition of negative gearing and changes to the capital gains tax discount which a Grattan Institute report has estimated would save the Commonwealth $5.3 billion a year.

Ms Gompertz said she hopes that the high income families in the electorate will see the benefits under the changes proposed by Labor.

According to the 2011 Census, Bradfield has the fifth highest proportion of high income families at just over 53 per cent.

“If tax money goes towards the National Disability Scheme, better childcare, better public infrastructure and transport, they can see where the money is going.”

Mr Jones says the Greens intend to follow a similar taxation policy. “If the electorate does not want to cut public health and public education, then we have to look at the other side of the equation which is taxation.”

Both Ms Gompertz and Mr Jones support the full funding of the Gonski reforms while the Liberal Party does not.

Bradfield has a great number of private schools, including Knox Grammar and Loreto Normanhurst, the second highest proportion of couples with dependent children and the highest proportion of locals attending school --18 per cent according to the 2011 Census.

Mr Jones says Gonski funding is crucial to reducing social divisions.

“The Gonski funding reform's ever more important, because it is very necessary to ensure that division is not created or developed, between those in public schools and those in private,” he told UnipollWatch.

While it seems most unlikely the Liberal party will lose Bradfield in the upcoming election, Katie Gompertz says: “There should always be opposition, there should always be debating, there should always be two sides of the argument.”

Local wrath over the proposed merger of Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai shires underpins the campaign of recently announced independent candidate Christine Berman, The Monthly Chronicle reports.

While council mergers are a state issue, Ms Berman, married to Hornsby Shire Councillor Nick Berman, has noted that Mr Fletcher the federal Local Government Minister has not spoken out against the merger.

The Christian Democratic Party is fielding candidate Chris Vale in Bradfield.

Bradfield has been a safe seat for the Liberals since its creation 1949.  It is considered to be the safest Coalition seat in metropolitan Australia, and equal fifth safest Coalition seat overall.

Mr Fletcher has held Bradfield since the 2009 by-election which followed the resignation of then Liberal MP Dr Brendan Nelson who held Bradfield since 1996.

Mr Fletcher was re-elected in 2010 and in the 2013 election, he retained the seat with 57,506 first-preference count votes. The Labor Party candidate contesting the seat in 2013 received the second highest count: 14,702. A 21 per cent swing is needed for the Liberal MP to be ousted.

Mr Jones, says, “I don’t think anyone will overcome that,” however, he is confident of closing the gap on the Liberal candidate.

“It will not be an easy election for the Liberals. There is a chunk of Labor voters in the electorate, as well as a growing proportion who identify with a different perspective on refugees and climate change.”

Bradfield residents are long-lived, high earning, highly educated people with a high rate of home ownership, couples with children and school attendees.

People in North Sydney and Hornsby have the highest life expectancy at birth in Australia (85.4 years).

The Bradfield electorate includes Asquith, St Ives, Gordon and parts of Hornsby; and was subject to some minor boundary changes as a result of the 2015-16 New South Wales Federal Redistribution.

Bradfield has gained Castle Cove and parts of Chatswood and two electors from the Division of Warringah at Roseville Bridge Marina and lost parts of Normanhurst, Thornleigh and Pennant Hills to the Division of Berowra.

Bradfield is named for Dr John J. C. Bradfield, the designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Bradfield's first member was Billy Hughes, a former Prime Minister of Australia.

2013 Election Results

Candidate Party Votes % Swing(%)
BUCHANAN, Blake Palmer United Party 2366 2.67 +2.67
HARROLD, Paul Democratic Labour Party (DLP) 992 1.12 +1.12
ARCHER, John Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) 1671 1.88 +1.88
HAVILAND, Chris Labor 14720 16.6 -2.62
FLETCHER, PaulElected Liberal 57506 64.84 +0.39
McINNES, Pippa The Greens 11429 12.89 -3.45


Cristian Minale

Selin Kement

Rosemary Hill


Additional reporting by Alice Taylor, Jennifer Luu, Niko Auer and Georgia Roach. Fact checking & editing by Niko Auer, Oliver Jacques, Lucas Baird, Catriona Bonfiglioli, Saba Bebawi and Peter Fray

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