Named after poet Dorothea Mackellar, best known for "My Country", Mackellar features neither sweeping plains nor rugged mountains. Ranging from Palm Beach in the north to Dee Why in the south most of Mackellar is taken up by Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The rest is made up of idyllic beach towns like Newport and leafy suburbs like Davidson. It also serves as location for the popular Australian soap opera Home & Away. Most residents of Mackellar are English speaking, Australian born, professionals.
The New South Wales electorate of Mackellar, located in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, is considered one of the safest Liberal seats in the country.
The Liberal Party has selected Jason Falinski to run for the Liberals, ousting long term member Bronwyn Bishop. The Labor Party will be running candidate Rhonda Funnell and the Greens candidate is Mike Hall.
While the northern beaches is concerned with a lot of state issues, such as roads, hospitals and council amalgamations; housing affordability and the cost of living will be two big issues affecting the federal election. With the government and the opposition both floating ideas to change negative gearing and capital gains tax, Mackellar residents are concerned with how such changes would affect them.
Many Mackellar residents have large mortgages and are concerned about the real estate market. Research conducted but the University of New South Wales found that one in ten homes on the northern beaches is vacant. This trend is being fuelled by the desire for owners to maximise capital growth. Associate Dr Laurence Troy says many owners would rather their properties remain empty and hope for a larger return than rent them out for the immediate income. Investors and owner-occupiers will be closely watching any relevant policy announcements.
As house prices continually push people further away from the city, the northern beaches, in particular the suburb of Dee Why, is becoming more popular. Core Logic RP Data shows that over the past year prices have risen in Dee Why by 25.3 percent. Dee Why has been enjoying a regeneration, with town planners preparing for what might be a sudden spike in population growth. While this is good news for those who are selling, local residents are concerned about the quality of services and in particular roads.
In a recent interview, entrepreneur and Mackellar resident Dick Smith expressed concern about the growing population in the area. He notes many Mackellar residents travel into the city for work, which can take up to an hour and a half. Mr Smith is concerned that if the population increases and high rise apartments are constructed, this problem may worsen. Furthermore, Mr Smith is worried about the character of the area being lost if Federation homes are demolished to make way for high-rise apartments. If population increases significantly Mackellar will face some dramatic changes.
According to the Australian Electoral Commission, in the 2013 federal election Mackellar voted 62.43 percent Liberal, with a positive swing towards Mrs Bishop. On a two candidate preferred basis, Mrs Bishop similarly received 68.84 per cent over her Labor counterpart, with a 93.39 percent turnout among Mackellar’s 102,861 enrolled voters. The electorate itself was unaffected by the 2015-2016 NSW Federal redistribution.
A controversial personality, Mrs Bishop served in public office for 28 years. Elected to the Senate in 1987, she served for seven years before contesting Mackellar and was once seen as a future Liberal leader, with outspoken conservative views and the support of the far-right of her party.
Mrs Bishop has been embroiled in a number of scandals since entering parliament as a Senator in 1987. The most notable was last year when she charged the tax payer to charter a helicopter to a Liberal Party function and had to repay $5227. This incident also cost her the speakership in the House of Representatives.
Mentions of the federal electorate of Mackellar, in media and on social networks, lit up on the 4th of April 2016 after the death of prominent resident Bob Ellis. The journalist and speechwriter made headlines when he ran as an independent against the current member for Mackellar Bronwyn Bishop in the 1994 by-election that saw her elected to the House of Representatives.
Mackellar has had only three members since it was first proclaimed in 1949. Bill Wentworth, a founding member of the Liberal Party and great grandson of William Charles Wentworth the explorer, won the electorate for the Liberal party in 1949 and held it through to 1977. Wentworth was active in many areas during his time in parliament but was probably most well-known for his “extravagant” approach to communism and he was often depicted as a farcical humorous figure.