Division of Cunningham

The Division of Cunningham is an Australian electoral division in the state of New South Wales.

Australian House of Representatives Division
Division of Cunningham in New South Wales, as of the 2016 federal election.
MPSharon Bird
NamesakeAllan Cunningham
Electors115,312 (2019)
Area519 km2 (200.4 sq mi)


Allan Cunningham, the division's namesake

The division was created in 1949 and is named for Allan Cunningham, a 19th-century explorer of New South Wales and Queensland.

The division has always been represented by the Australian Labor Party, except following the 2002 by-election when the Greens won the seat; being the first time that the Greens held a seat in the House of Representatives. Labor recovered the seat at the 2004 federal election. The Illawarra is one of the few non-metropolitan regions where Labor has consistently done well.

Its most prominent members have been Rex Connor, a senior minister in the Whitlam government, and Stephen Martin, who was Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives from 1993–1996, during the last term of the Keating government. The sitting member, since the 2004 federal election, is Sharon Bird, a member of the Australian Labor Party.

Cunningham is Labor's safest non-metropolitan seat, with a thirteen percent swing needed for the Liberals to win it.


The division is located on the coast of New South Wales between southern Sydney and Wollongong. It takes in the northern portion of Wollongong, including Corrimal, Figtree and Unanderra. It also includes several of Sydney's outer southern suburbs, including Heathcote and Bundeena. The division covers areas east of the Illawarra escarpment and is bounded by the Tasman Sea to the east. It is bounded to the north by the Royal National Park and to the south by the Wollongong suburbs of Figtree, Cordeaux Heights and Coniston. Although the region is primarily rural, the vast majority of the population is located in the northern outskirts of Wollongong and along the eastern seaboard. The main products and means of livelihood in the area are tourism, tertiary education, steel production, coal mining, brick manufacturing, textiles and dairy farming.


Image Member Party Term Notes
  Billy Davies
Labor 10 December 1949
17 February 1956
Previously held the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of Wollongong-Kembla. Died in office
  Victor Kearney
Labor 1 April 1956
1 November 1963
  Rex Connor
Labor 30 November 1963
22 August 1977
Previously held the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of Wollongong-Kembla. Served as minister under Whitlam. Died in office
  Stewart West
Labor 15 October 1977
8 February 1993
Served as minister under Hawke. Lost preselection and retired
  Dr Stephen Martin
Labor 13 March 1993
16 August 2002
Previously held the Division of Macarthur. Served as Speaker during the Keating Government. Resigned in order to retire from politics
  Michael Organ
Greens 19 October 2002
9 October 2004
Lost seat
  Sharon Bird
Labor 9 October 2004
Served as minister under Gillard and Rudd. Incumbent

Election results

2019 Australian federal election: Cunningham[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labor Sharon Bird 46,923 46.61 −1.28
Liberal Chris Atlee 31,177 30.97 +1.81
Greens Rowan Huxtable 15,196 15.09 +0.44
United Australia Grace Younger 3,828 3.80 +3.80
Sustainable Australia John Gill 2,340 2.32 +2.32
Non-Custodial Parents John Flanagan 1,213 1.20 −0.43
Total formal votes 100,677 94.30 −0.86
Informal votes 6,080 5.70 +0.86
Turnout 106,757 92.65 +1.14
Two-party-preferred result
Labor Sharon Bird 63,836 63.41 +0.09
Liberal Chris Atlee 36,841 36.59 −0.09
Labor hold Swing+0.09


  1. Cunningham, NSW, Tally Room 2019, Australian Electoral Commission.
  • Division of Cunningham - Australian Electoral Commission
  • Wilson, Peter (2002). The Australian Political Almanack.

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