The ballot paper draw has been conducted for the Heffron by-election, which will be held on August 25 to replace Kristina Keneally. The four candidates listed in ballot paper order:
Ron Hoenig (Labor). A barrister of Jewish extraction who has been mayor of Botany Bay for no fewer than 31 consecutive years. Half of the Heffron electorate is located in the Botany Bay municipality, and the other half in the City of Sydney.
Robyn Peebles (Christian Democratic Party).
Mehreen Faruqi (Greens). Of Pakistani origin, Faruqi was also the Greens candidate at last year’s election. She was described at the time as “a civil/environmental engineer and sustainability expert who has worked in numerous senior roles at universities, consulting firms and in local government”.
Drew Simmons (Australian Democrats).
Heffron is located due south of the city, from Redfern south through Sydenham and Kensington to Sydney Airport and Botany Bay. The seat was created in 1973 in place of abolished Randwick, a bellwether electorate that had changed hands along with government in 1930, 1932 and 1941. The area became stronger over time for Labor, who have comfortably held the seat throughout its existence. In common with a great many other electorates, the Liberals achieved their best ever result at the March 2011 election, increasing from 21.8% to 33.3% on the primary vote and 26.3% to 42.9% on two-party preferred. Labor’s primary vote was down from 56.4% to 41.2%, with the Greens down from 19.7% to 19.0%.
The winner of the by-election will become only the seat’s fourth member, the preceding members having been Laurie Brereton (1973-1990), Brereton’s sister Deirdre Grusovin (1990-2003), and Kristina Keneally (2003-2012). Brereton, who had previously held Randwick for a term, became a senior front-bencher in the Wran-Unsworth government before entering federal politics in 1990 as member for Kingsford-Smith. Grusovin had been an upper house member since 1978 prior to assuming the seat. She went on to lose preselection at the 2003 election after a complicated power struggle between Brereton, who by one account was seeking to secure the succession for his son Anthony, and then state party secretary Eric Roozendaal, who argued Grusovin should make way for a younger candidate. That candidate ended up being Keneally, who went on to be elevated to the ministry in 2007 before accepting the poisoned chalice of the premiership in December 2009.
The more recent preselection was less eventful, with Hoenig emerging uncontested after an early front-runner, former government staffer Michael Comninos, decided not to contest. Hoenig had last been on the preselection scene in 1990, when Laurie Brereton defeated him in Kingsford-Smith.