Tony Abbott renews his vows to Warringah

Jun 24, 2016 UniPollWatch
Former PM and Warringah MP Tony Abbott, photo by Marlene Bijoux Even
Greens candidate Clara Williams-Roldan (centre) on the campaign trail, photograph courtesy of Clara Williams-Roldan
Sitting Member:
Abbott, T (LP)
1994 (By-election)
Size of electorate:
68 sq. Km

Redistribution details:

The 2016 redistribution reduced Warringah from 73 sq km to 68 sq km by excluding parts of Cremorne.

Sitting Member

Tony Abbott, a Rhodes Scholar, was Prime Minister from 2013 to 2015. Before entering parliament, Mr Abbott studied for the priesthood and worked as a journalist, a plant manager, a press secretary, a political adviser and as Executive Director, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy. Mr Abbott has not held another seat. There has been no gap in service.

Key Comments

Issues for Warringah, a safe, Inner Metropolitan seat held by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, include transport, housing, taxation, negative gearing, superannuation, pensions, health, waste, illicit drugs and gun ownership.

Electorate Profile

Suggestions Tony Abbott harbours hopes of a Prime Ministerial comeback have repeatedly been hosed down by his supporters and the man himself.

But it’s clear Mr Abbott still has his ambitions. He’s said he would love to serve in a Turnbull cabinet. That assumes the Coalition is returned on July 2  — and Mr Abbott retains his northern Sydney seat of Warringah.

The latter seems a pretty safe bet.  At the last election Mr Abbott won almost 61 per cent of the primary vote and, despite a poll last December finding most Warringah voters thought it was time the former PM left politics, Mr Abbott isn’t planning to end his 22 years service to the electorate.

Mr Abbott told UniPollWatch that a Coalition government would mean company tax cuts to boost investment, jobs and prosperity, keeping Australian borders safe, and tax cuts for middle-income Australians who are "having a go" and "deserve a hand".

"I will be a good local member and a strong national voice, that means a whole lot of things but amongst other things it means finally getting Brookvale oval upgraded," he told UniPollWatch in an interview. "It’s not my only priority but it’s an important one."

Mr Abbott said a Coalition government would also find more than $3.5m to combat the ice scourge in Northern Sydney, provide $85,000 for CCTVs to cover anti-social behaviour hotspots in Manly and deliver the transport infrastructure Warringah has been "craving for a long, long time".

Despite the odds, Labor's Andrew Woodward says he stands the "best chance of any candidate in Warringah to defeat Tony Abbott".

Mr Woodward replaces the ALP's Jules Zanetti who polled 19.32 of the primary vote in 2013, coming a distant second to Mr Abbott in the two-party preferred result: 34.65 to 65.35 per cent.

Mr Woodward's stand on climate change and renewable energy may find local support judging by the December 2015 ReachTel poll which showed 77% of Warringah voters support a complete transition to renewable energy in Australia by 2030.
“Locally, more frequent and ferocious storms and bushfires due to climate change are an increasing threat to Warringah,” Mr Woodward said in a statement.

“Longer term, sea level increases are massive issues for Manly Vale, North Manly, Brookvale, The Spit, Mosman foreshore and Middle Harbour.”

Mr Abbott's status makes Warringah a well-lit stage for highlighting these environmental issues, as well as divisive issues such as marriage equality, refugees and housing affordability.

After tilting at NSW Premier Mike Baird in his safe state seat of Manly, Greens candidate Clara Williams-Roldan is now drawn to the lordly lists of Warringah.

In 2015, Ms Williams-Roldan polled 17.13 per cent of Manly's primary vote, pipping Labor's Jennifer Jary into third place with 12.89 per cent but falling well behind Mr Baird's 67.99 per cent. Ms Jary rose on preferences to come second with 21.60 per cent of the two-party preferred to Mr Baird's resounding 78.40 per cent.

Ms Williams-Roldan, 24, says competing in the State election, gave her “a thicker skin” encouraging her to stand for Warringah where former Greens candidate Will Kitching gave the ALP a nudge by attracting15.53 per cent of the 2013 primary vote.

Independent David Barrow told UniPollWatch that Mr Abbott’s high profile makes Warringah the “battleground” for marriage equality debate.

Mr Barrow, from Melbourne, says he is running a one-issue campaign on marriage equality.  

 “The presence of high-profile incumbent Tony Abbott in the mix can draw attention to national issues during the election,” he told UniPollWatch.

Abbott’s policy on marriage equality does not sit well with many Warringah voters with a 2010 survey for news.com.au finding more than two thirds of the electorate did not share Abbott’s view on marriage equality.  

Six years on, most people still support marriage equality, according to Nathan Thomas who set up the group People of Warringah (POW) to tackle issues including marriage equality and refugee.

“I think we can do so much better than Tony Abbott,” Mr Thomas, of Cremorne, told UniPollWatch in an interview.

 “A lot of people are quite embarrassed of him being our local member,” said Mr Thomas.

“They say, ‘God I’m embarrassed with Tony Abbott but I’m going to vote for him anyway, because I like Malcolm Turnbull,’” he said.

“In a really, really strange way Malcolm Turnbull being PM has helped him.”

Susan Lambe from Freshwater believes Abbott is “the best of a bad bunch.”  She does not agree with his marriage equality policy but believes he has done a good job addressing Australia’s refugee problem.

Ms Lambe applauds Abbott’s policy of stopping the “illegal boats” and believes those settled in Australia should be from refugee camps.

“We need to protect our borders,” she said.

Louise Hislop, who has lived in the electorate her whole life, says the key issues influencing her vote are marriage equality, climate change and refugee and asylum seeker policy.

Warringah Council, much of which sits within the Warringah electorate, was declared a Refugee Welcome Zone in 2012 demonstrating a commitment to upholding the human rights of refugees.

Mr Thomas said many Warringah residents worry about the lack of action on climate change and unhappy with Abbott’s view on the topic.  Mr Thomas said Abbott “basically says its crap.”  

Susan Lambe considers the state issue of “roads and traffic” a major concern.  

Ms Hislop credits Abbott for his involvement with local and national charity but does not think this makes him an effective local member.

“I do not believe Tony is in touch with his constituents,” Ms Hislop said.

Former Australian Idol host James Mathison told the Manly Daily election forum at Dee Why RSL that young people were "locked out of the system".

"They are facing a shrinking job market, enormous debt and are looking at university fees being deregulated with enormous costs ahead of them," 9news.com reported him saying.

The other independent standing is Tony Backhouse. The Nick Xenophon Team will be represented by Marie Rowland, June Scifo is standing for the Christian Democratic Party, Shea Caplice represents the Arts Party and Marc Giordano is standing for the Science Party.

Other issues for Warringah include housing, negative gearing, superannuation, pensions, health, waste, and gun ownership.

The redistribution for 2016 reduced Warringah electorate from 73 sq km to 68 sq km by excluding parts of Cremorne.

The 2011 Census found Warringah had the nation's third highest proportion of high-income households (55.9%).

2013 Election Results

Candidate Party Votes % Swing(%)
ZANETTI, Jules Felix Labor 17259 19.32 -2.32
STEWART, Brodie Martin O'Connor Palmer United Party 1961 2.2 +2.20
BLOOMFIELD, Mike Rise Up Australia Party 472 0.53 +0.53
KITCHING, Will The Greens 13873 15.53 -0.81
FALANGA, Ula Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) 630 0.71 +0.71
ABBOTT, TonyElected Liberal 54388 60.89 +1.97
COTTEE, Mike Stable Population Party 744 0.83 +0.83
...... Australian Sex Party 0 0 -2.44
...... Secular Party of Australia 0 0 -0.67


Jessica Hill

Marlene Bijoux Even

Niko Auer

Caitlin Bloor


Photo of Tony Abbott, MP, by Marlene Bijoux Even. Editing and fact-checking by Alice Taylor, Catriona Bonfiglioli and Peter Fray. Additional reporting by Paula Ahillon, Lexy Akillas, Jordan Fermanis, Cristian Minale, & Filip Stempien.

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