Openly gay Liberal Bruce Notley-Smith has defied the odds to achieve a massive win in Coogee at Saturday’s state election.
The former Randwick Mayor took the seat from Labor incumbent Paul Pearce to become the first Liberal member for Coogee in 37 years.
The 15.1 percent swing to Notley-Smith was nearly identical to that away from Pearce while support for the Greens stayed virtually unchanged.
Notley-Smith told the Star Observer he had been as shocked as anyone by the win.
“At just after 6pm, after polls had closed, I sat quietly in the car writing my concession speech because I really thought I had lost, so it was an incredible shock, and a humbling shock, to not only win but to win with such a great swing,” he said.
“I’m really grateful to those who have put that faith in me and I won’t let them down.”
As for what his more conservative colleagues in the new Parliament might make of a gay MP in their ranks, Notley-Smith said they would have to get used to it.
“I’m sure they’ll see from firsthand experience that the sky has not fallen in and I’ll do everything I can to persuade them on our issues,” he said.
“And it’s not only on my side of the Parliament that there are people who need to clarify their thinking on our issues … but I’ll be doing my best within the Liberal Party to ensure that our issues and concerns get addressed as they should be.
“There’s never been an impediment to me standing up for issues dealing with the GLBTI community in the Liberal Party and our community has a lot of friends within the Liberals.”
Notley-Smith said he was confident that Liberal policy commitments to the GLBTI community would not be traded away with the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democrats in the balance of power.
“[Premier] Barry [O’Farrell] is a man of his word and in advancing causes for our community. It would be great if those on the Opposition benches threw their weight behind any legislation that serves to improve our standing in the community.”
In the electorate of Sydney, candidate Adrian Bartels was buoyed by a 14 percent swing to the Liberals at the expense of Labor, the Greens and independent Clover Moore.
“It would have been a miracle for me to win so I’m happy with the result,” Bartels said.
But with Moore’s margin reduced to 4 percent, he was keeping his mind open about running again for the seat.