State election: A blue tide in the shire

The Liberal Party made a clean sweep in Sutherland Shire at Saturday's state election by regaining Miranda and comfortably holding its other seats.

The shire reverted to a deep blue — the Liberals' traditional colour — with the party holding all four state seats, two federal seats and controlling Sutherland Shire Council.

Taxation lawyer Eleni Petinos had a crushing victory in Miranda, gaining 62.3 per cent of the vote on a two party preferred basis.

In Cronulla, Mark Speakman gained 71.5 per cent of the vote, two party preferred, with a swing of 3.3 per cent to Labor.

Mr Speakman, who has a strong chance of being included in Premier Mike Baird's new ministry, said infrastructure was a major issue.

"The majority of voters accepted there was a need for bold action in the partial long-term leasing of the 'poles and wires', " he said.

Labor's best shire result was an 11.5 per cent swing in Heathcote, but incumbent Lee Evans still won comfortably, with 57.5 per cent of the two party preferred vote.

Even the former seat of Menai, which Labor was confident of winning after it was radically reshaped and renamed Holsworthy, was easily won by sitting Liberal Melanie Gibbons.

Ms Petinos’ huge win in Miranda was ‘‘gold’’ for the Liberals.

At the time she was pre-selected a well-placed party source said she was not expected to defeat popular Labor MP Barry Collier, but the intention was to groom her for the future.

Mr Collier’s decision not to recontest the seat boosted her chances enormously, and many voters who punished the Liberals at the 

2011 by-election were obviously prepared to give her a chance.

‘‘I want to thank the people of Miranda for supporting me and the Baird Liberal team,’’ Ms Petinos said.

‘‘I am deeply humbled, and I will work tirelessly.’’

Ms Petinos said that when she nominated she had expected Mr Collier to be her main opponent.

‘‘The reality is that it’s always a test between two parties,’’ she said.

‘‘Incumbency does help sometimes, but it shouldn’t have mattered whether it was Barry or Greg [Labor candidate Greg Holland].

‘‘It was always going to be a test whether the people would embrace the vision the Premier had.’’

Lee Evans also thanked voters for their confidence.

It had been an intense campaign, with the trade union movement putting in a lot of resources, he said.

‘‘I told head office I was happy to take the heat if it took pressure off elsewhere and helped Eleni Petinos and Mark Coure [Oatley].’’

Mr Evans said he had tried to run a positive campaign, even to the point of ignoring material head office distributed for use on election day which depicted Labor leader Luke Foley as an L-plater.

‘‘We found people had made up their minds two weeks from the election, and I was confident we would win,’’ he said.

‘‘Putting out material like that would have been  counterproductive.’’

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