Election forecasting is a puzzle in beachside Kingsford Smith/Image by Sacha Fernandez
Thistlethwaite was previously a senator from 2010 to 2013. He then replaced Peter Garrett to represent Kingsford Smith.
Thistlethwaite won the seat of Kingsford Smith in 2013 on preferences with a margin of 5.48 % two-party preferred. As a result, the seat is contentious. Thistlethwaite is campaigning against university deregulation, as one of Australia's largest universities, UNSW, is in his seat.
Kingsford Smith is located in Sydney’s south-eastern suburbs, stretching from Botany Bay to Randwick. The seat has been held by the Labor Party since its formation in 1949, with a number of high profile sitting members including former deputy prime minister Lionel Bowen and Midnight Oil front-man Peter Garrett.
Despite its reputation as a Labor stronghold,the seat has a seen a shift towards the Liberal Party in previous years, with an 8.1% swing recorded to the Liberals in the two-party preferred vote in the 2010 election. The 2013 election was even closer, with Liberal candidate Micheal Feneley, who is standing again this year, leading after the first preference count. He only fell behind when second preferences were taken into consideration.
The swing towards the Liberal party has coincided with a demographic shift in the region. The median weekly income is 17% above the national average, compared with just 9% in 2006.
A number of major issues will shape the outcome of this election, with the fate of the Prince of Wales Hospital likely to figure prominently. Labor has charged the Liberal Party with cutting funds to the hospital, with Feneley countering that funding has actually increased over the past three years.
Penalty rates are shaping up to be another contentious issues, given the large student and migrant population of the area. The Federal government's Productivity Commission has recommended cuts to the rates paid to workers on Sundays. Janet Alexander of the Randwick Chamber of Commerce is broadly in support. She says any changes should ensure that “workers are getting a fair amount for their labour, but also the shop owners are able to keep afloat their business”.
Finally, a number of state government policies are likely to have a significant influence on voting for the seat. The removal of trees along Anzac Parade and Alison Road for the new light rail transportation link has caused significant community angst. The issue of council amalgamation is also likely to weigh heavily on the minds of voters come July 2nd, while Feneley has made the future of Malabar Headland a key focus of his campaign, as management of the region was handed to the NSW government in January of this year.
The Labor Angle
Matt Thistlethwaite is a former senator from NSW and was the general-secretary of the NSW branch of the ALP from 2008-2010. He entered federal parliament after winning his party's endorsement to run in the seat at the 2013 election, stepping into the gap left by Peter Garrett.
Given the result in 2013, Thistlethwaite is “keen to not allow for such a close election at the next one”. Running on a campaign based around public health initiatives, environmental protection and the NBN roll-out, Thistlethwaite believes he best represents the public interest in Kingsford-Smith.
Feneley aiming for third time lucky
After closing the gap between Labor and Liberal over the last two elections, Michael Feneley will be looking to finally overtake Labor in his third shot at the seat.
Feneley is prominent in the medical community, currently holding the title of Director of Cardiology at St Vincent’s Hospital, a position that he has held since 1993. As a doctor, Feneley has been keen to defend the funding for the Prince of Wales Hospital, arguing that more than half a billion dollars is being spent by the goverment to redevelop the hospital.
Basing his campaign around the Liberal Party mantra of "jobs and growth", Feneley has attempted to appeal to local businesses, promising stable economic management.
He was not available for interview despite several requests.
The Greens targeting youth
Refugee rights, climate change, and anti-corruption are the three pillars on which Kingsford-Smith’s Greens candidate James MacDonald will be building his campaign. Running for the second time for The Greens, the 27-year-old believes he can be a voice for the younger generation despite poor results in the last election.
The 2013 election saw MacDonald gain 9.79% of first preference votes. It was MacDonald's second preference votes which proved to be the deciding factor in the 2013 race, with the overwhelming majority being cast for Labor candidate Matt Thistlethwaite. This means it is likely James MacDonald and The Randwick- Botany Bay Greens party will play a key part in the outcome of the upcoming election.
MacDonald currently does not feel strongly enough to make a formal recommendation in support of Thistlethwaite, as he did in 2013. “Labor doesn’t present much of a difference to the Liberal Party, that’s probably going to weigh on their vote when it comes time to determine our preferences.” However, his "how to vote" card posted online shows Labor getting his second preference, though the text above the image stresses that Greens voters can number the ballot paper however they like.