2002 Cunningham by-election

The 2002 Cunningham by-election was held in the Australian electorate of Cunningham in New South Wales on 19 October 2002. The by-election was triggered by the resignation of the sitting member, the Australian Labor Party's Stephen Martin on 16 August 2002. The writ for the by-election was issued on 16 September 2002.

Cunningham (dark) within New South Wales

The by-election was notable as it was won by Michael Organ, the candidate for the Australian Greens, making Cunningham the first seat in the Australian House of Representatives to be won by a minor party since Jack Lang won Reid for his Lang Labor party in 1946, and the first seat in the House won by the Greens.


Cunningham had been held by Labor since its creation 52 years previously, but a recent local government election for Lord Mayor of Wollongong had seen the Labor candidate lose to an independent, Alex Darling, causing concern in the ALP about their ability to hold the seat given the expectation of a significant protest vote against them.[1] The ALP candidate preselected to replace Martin was Sharon Bird.

The Liberal Party of Australia received 28 percent of the primary vote at the previous election, they chose not to run a candidate in the by-election. Independent candidate David Moulds held Liberal Party membership.[2]


Cunningham by-election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labor Sharon Bird 25,671 38.13 −6.06
Greens Michael Organ 15,505 23.03 +16.39
Independent David Moulds 9,147 13.59 +13.59
Independent Peter Wilson 7,107 10.56 +10.56
One Nation Geoff Crocker 2,696 4.00 −0.63
Christian Democrats Owen Nannelli 2,566 3.81 +1.32
Democrats Linda Chapman 1,514 2.25 −4.92
AAFI David Hughes 889 1.32 +1.32
Independent Meg Sampson 671 1.00 +1.00
Non-Custodial Parents John Flanagan 556 0.83 +0.83
Independent James Keene 483 0.72 +0.72
Socialist Alliance Chris Williams 399 0.59 +0.59
CEC Hal A Johnson 120 0.18 +0.18
Total formal votes 67,324 92.26 −2.90
Informal votes 5,647 7.74 +2.90
Turnout 72,971 89.51 −5.91
Two-candidate-preferred result
Greens Michael Organ 35,160 52.23 +52.23
Labor Sharon Bird 32,164 47.77 −12.88
Greens gain from Labor SwingN/A


Although Labor received the highest primary vote, the Australian Greens candidate, Michael Organ, won the by-election on a 52.2 percent two-candidate preferred (2CP) vote. Asymmetrical preference flows in the absence of an official Liberal candidate contributed to Labor losing the seat, with their 2CP being reduced by 12.9 percent. Labor, Liberal and Green all contested Cunningham in the 2004 federal election, Labor won the seat back with a two-party preferred (2PP) vote of over 60 percent. Another example is the 2008 Mayo by-election. However, other factors attributed by some to the loss include Martin's premature departure, a messy preselection process for Bird, and discontent from the NSW Labor branch towards federal leader Simon Crean.[3]

See also


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