Battleground Seats – Coogee

In the lead up to the State Election in NSW we will be looking at what all of the major parties are doing in transport to try and win over voters in the most marginal seats across the state.

The Light Rail is a highly contentious infrastructure project in the seat of Coogee – Transport NSW Blog Collection

Today we are looking at the the Inner Sydney seat of Coogee. The incumbent MP is Liberal back-bencher Bruce Notley-Smith who holds the seat on a margin of 2.9%. The Labor candidate is Dr Marjorie O’Neill, a Waverley Councillor, whilst The Greens are running the ex-Mayor of Randwick Lindsay Shurey. Coogee is a seat that the Liberals appear to be highly pessimistic of retaining, yet is key for them to retain majority government. It is a must win for Labor, whilst the Greens retain an outside chance.

Mr Notley-Smith is the incumbent Liberal MP. He was the first openly gay MP to be elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly and was previously the Mayor of Randwick. The Liberal’s embattled Light Rail project is the centre piece of their transport plan for Coogee, which is expected to cause them some issues, as it is running 18 months behind schedule and nearly $1 billion over budget. Mr Notley-Smith has promised extra bus services for the Coogee valley and also to reinstate the bus route between Bronte and the City. The Liberals have also announced that they will introduce 10 new electric buses to Randwick depot for shuttle services between Coogee and the Light Rail in Randwick. Mr Notley-Smith refused to comment when contacted.

Dr O’Neill is the Labor candidate hoping to win back a traditional Labor seat. She currently serves as a Waverley Councillor. Labor plans to hold a Judicial Inquiry into the Light Rail project and ensure that existing bus service levels are retained after its opening. They are promising to do a complete review of bus services in the Bronte area and reinstate a bus route between Bronte and the CBD. Labor is also promising to make all transport for School Children free at all times and end the privatisation of bus services in the area. At a local community forum she commented on transport “The Liberals took away our buses without community consultation. We have campaigned and will bring back the 378 and look at the 361 buses. The light rail is opening at crush capacity. Is this the best public transport solution for our ageing population? The very simple answer is NO.” Further she promised,  “We will not take away buses without community consultation and, there will be no privatisation of our buses or other public services in Coogee under a Labor government”

Labor’s Marjorie O’Neill has promised to save local bus services – Transport NSW Blog Collection via Colin Magee

Ms Shurey is the Greens candidate. She was previously the Mayor of Randwick and is currently a Randwick councillor. The Greens are promising $1 public transport for all and renewable transport. When contacted, Ms Shurey claimed “It is one of my objectives to work to ensure Coogee residents retain all the current public transport advantages, which they currently enjoy and improve on the overall public transport service following the opening of the CBD to South East Light Rail.” She also confirmed that the Greens policy is against the privatisation of bus services and to seek to power public transport by non-fossil sources.”It should be the urban goal of all cities to overall reduce the net emission of carbon dioxide or its equivalent. Increased public transport is necessary to contribute to the lowering of carbon emissions and to get people out of cars, public transport must be reliable, frequent and sustainable and definitely in public hands.” Ms Shurey stated.

All three of the candidates are promising to improve public transport for Coogee. However, the failure to deliver the light rail project on time may bring Mr Notley-Smith and the Liberals undone. Labor’s “Save Our Buses” campaign has been very popular in the more Liberal leaning north of the seat and could just be the winner in a tight contest.

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