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The 2009 Bradfield by-election was held for the Australian House of Representatives seat of Bradfield on 5 December 2009.[1] This was triggered as a result of the resignation of former minister and ex-Liberal Party leader Brendan Nelson.[2] The by-election was held on the same day as the Higgins by-election.

2009 Bradfield by-election

← 2007 5 December 2009 2010 →
  Paul Fletcher MP 2014.jpg No image.png
Candidate Paul Fletcher Susie Gemmell
Party Liberal Greens
Popular vote 39,815 17,799
Percentage 56.44% 25.23%

Division of Bradfield 2007.png
Location of Bradfield within metropolitan Sydney

MP before election

Brendan Nelson

Elected MP

Paul Fletcher

The by-election was contested on the same boundaries drawn for Bradfield at the 2007 federal election. At that election, the Liberal Party won the seat over the Labor Party with a 63.45 per cent of the vote on a two-party-preferred basis, making it the safest metropolitan seat in Australia for the Liberals. The 2007 result was the second-closest in the seat's 60-year history (after the 1952 Bradfield by-election against an independent). The Liberal candidate has never had to go to preferences to win the seat.[3]

The writ for the by-election was issued on 30 October, with the rolls closing on 9 November. Candidate nominations closed on 12 November, and were announced the following day. At 22 candidates, it ties with the 1992 Wills by-election for the most candidates to contest a federal lower house seat.[4]

Both the Bradfield and Higgins by-elections were the last by-elections for the House of Representatives until the Griffith by-election held in February 2014.



At the 2007 federal election, the opposition Kevin Rudd-led Labor Party defeated the incumbent John Howard-led Liberal-National coalition government. This marked the first change of government in over 11 years. Brendan Nelson had served in ministerial positions in the Howard government, before taking over the Liberal leadership from Howard after the election loss. He lost the leadership to Malcolm Turnbull less than a year later after sustained poor polling.

Nelson first won the seat of Bradfield at the 1996 election.

Nelson had initially indicated (16 February 2009) he would stay as the member until the next election, at which time he would retire from parliament. On 25 August 2009, however, he announced he would be resigning by late September, thus triggering a by-election. On 16 September 2009, he was appointed as Ambassador to the European Union, NATO, Belgium and Luxembourg. He officially resigned from the House on 19 October 2009.


The Higgins and Bradfield by-election campaigns were overshadowed by Liberal infighting over Labor's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, culminating in the replacement of Malcolm Turnbull with Tony Abbott as Liberal leader. Although fairly safe on paper, some commentators including Malcolm Mackerras tipped the Greens to win in Higgins, and force the Liberals to preferences in Bradfield.[5][6]


The following table is the order and party affiliation of each candidate who has nominated to contest the seat of Bradfield on 5 December 2009.[7]

Ballot Number Party Candidate Profession Notes
1   Christian Democrats James Whitehall Property development
2   Christian Democrats Jodi Luke Teacher
3   Independent Peter Hanrahan Pensioner
4   Independent Bill Koutalianos Architecture graduate Endorsed by the unregistered Climate Sceptics Party
5   Democratic Labor Simon McCaffrey Obstetrician and gynaecologist [8]
6   Christian Democrats Robyn Peebles Religious minister
7   Greens Susie Gemmell Parliamentary Advisor Greens candidate for Bradfield at the 2007 federal election.[9]
8   Christian Democrats Darryl Allen Retiree
9   Christian Democrats Leighton Thew Engineer
10   Sex Marianne Leishman Entertainer and law graduate [10]
11   Independent Philip Dowling Education officer
12   Independent Simon Kelly IT businessman [11]
13   One Nation Victor Waterson Fitter and Turner [12]
14   Liberal Democrats Lucy Gabb Search marketer
15   Independent Brian Buckley "Australian nationalist", a republican, anti-immigration and pro-refugee.[13]
16   Liberal Paul Fletcher Former Optus executive [14]
17   Christian Democrats Andrew Hestelow Company director
18   Christian Democrats Esther Heng Secretary
19   Christian Democrats Joseph Pender Student
20   Christian Democrats David Pix Graphics teacher
21   Climate Change Coalition Deborah Burt Consultant
22   Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy Goronwy Price Director

The Australian Labor Party did not stand a candidate. The Christian Democrats suggested that they were considering running up to eleven candidates (eleven being the number of faithful disciples). The CDP ended up fielding nine candidates.


The Liberal Party retained the seat.[15]

Bradfield by-election, 2009[16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Paul Fletcher 39,815 56.44 −2.63
Greens Susie Gemmell 17,799 25.23 +13.97
Sex Party Marianne Leishman 2,229 3.16 +3.16
Democratic Labour Simon McCaffrey 1,533 2.17 +2.17
Independent Simon Kelly 1,359 1.93 +1.93
Independent Bill Koutalianos 1,191 1.69 +1.69
Christian Democrats James Whitehall 1,054 1.49 §
Nuclear Energy Goronwy Price 758 1.07 +1.07
Climate Change Deborah Burt 686 0.97 +0.97
Independent Brian Buckley 618 0.88 +0.88
Liberal Democrats Lucy Gabb 589 0.83 +0.83
Independent Philip Dowling 555 0.79 +0.79
One Nation Victor Waterson 449 0.64 +0.64
Independent Peter Hanrahan 443 0.63 +0.63
Christian Democrats Esther Heng 362 0.51 §
Christian Democrats Andrew Hestelow 285 0.40 §
Christian Democrats Leighton Thew 187 0.27 §
Christian Democrats Jodi Luke 170 0.24 §
Christian Democrats Robyn Peebles 162 0.23 §
Christian Democrats Darryl Allen 147 0.21 §
Christian Democrats David Pix 100 0.14 §
Christian Democrats Joseph Pender 57 0.08 §
Total formal votes 70,548 91.00 −5.01
Informal votes 6,976 9.00 +5.01
Turnout 77,524 81.51 −12.52
Two-candidate-preferred result
Liberal Paul Fletcher 45,725 64.81 +1.36
Greens Susie Gemmell 24,823 35.19 +35.19
Liberal hold Swing N/A

§ The combined Christian Democrats vote was 3.58 percent, an increase of 1.84 percentage points.


The Christian Democratic Party's lead candidate, James Whitehall, resigned from the party soon after the by-election on strong disagreement with the content of a controversial and unauthorised survey[17] circulated by the campaign director Michael Darby. The platform of the CDP for the by-election was focused on the controversial Emissions Trading Scheme,[18] which was supported by both the Liberal and Labor parties at the time of the by-election.[19] Changes to the CDP platform, as suggested by the controversial survey, had not been sighted or approved by many of its candidates.[20] Whitehall's father, the party's junior deputy president, also resigned. Being the author of the survey, which included questions on whether the Government should be able to deport Muslims, and whether mosques and Islamic schools should be banned, Darby faced expulsion from the party.[21] He was ultimately relieved of his position, and party leader, Fred Nile, offered an apology for the survey, also stating that the CDP would not run multiple candidates in any electorates in future.[22]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Higgins, Bradfield by-elections announced, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 26 October 2009.
  2. ^ "My race is run, says retiring Nelson". ABC. 25 August 2009.
  3. ^ Antony Green (2009-08-25). "A By-election in Bradfield: Antony Green's election blog". Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  4. ^ "Candidates for Bradfield (NSW) 2009 by-election (Saturday 5 December)". AEC. 2007-06-08. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  5. ^ "Mackerras predicts boilover in Higgins: The Australian 3 December 2009". 2009-12-03. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  6. ^ Grattan, Michelle (2009-12-04). "A day that changed everything: SMH 4 December 2009". Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  7. ^ "The AEC has recently restructured our content". 2007-06-08. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  8. ^ "Bradfield - 2009 federal by-election - ABC Elections (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  9. ^ 2007 Bradfield candidate - Susie Gemmell :: Ku-ring-gai Greens
  10. ^ "Pole dancer aims for Nelson's old seat: SMH 28/10/2009". 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  11. ^ Priestley, Andrew (2010-06-15). "Pushing to make safe seat marginal - Local News - News | North Shore Times". Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  12. ^ Priestley, Andrew (2010-06-15). "Bradfield's Melbourne Cup field - Local News - News | North Shore Times". Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  13. ^ Priestley, Andrew (2010-06-15). "Independent to stand on immigration: North Shore Times 08/09/2009". Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  14. ^ "Fletcher wins Liberals preselection for Bradfield: ABC News 26/09/2009". 2009-09-26. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  15. ^ "Antony Green by-election commentary". ABC. 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  16. ^ Virtual Tally Room: AEC Archived 2009-12-11 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Nicholls, Sean (2010-03-17). "Row of biblical proportions". Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  18. ^ Nile, Fred (2009-11-20). "Stop the ETS". Archived from the original on 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
  19. ^ Ja, Crystal (2009-11-23). "D-day looms for Turnbull". Retrieved 2009-11-23.
  20. ^ Nile, Fred (2009-12-14). "Nile Apology". Archived from the original on 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  21. ^ Nicholls, Sean (2009-12-29). "Nile party in an unholy row after byelection". Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  22. ^ Nicholls, Sean; McKenny, Leesha (2010-02-17). "Nile scapegoat calls in lawyers". Retrieved 2010-06-25.

External linksEdit