Former federal government minister Philip Ruddock will return to politics as mayor of a northern Sydney council after NSW’s local government elections.
Millions went to the polls on Saturday to elect 46 councils and, while final results are almost a week away, many mayors have already taken to social media to claim victory.
Ruddock, Australia’s second-longest serving federal politician, came out of retirement on a Liberal ticket to snatch the mayorship of Hornsby by a convincing margin.
He secured 48.44% of the vote with all the formal votes counted on Saturday evening, eclipsing the second-placed candidate by almost three times as many votes.
“I’ve come back into [politics] with a very clear focus,” Ruddock said.
“Hornsby Shire is not known as bushland shire for no reason. We’re between major national parks. We have a particular heritage which is important for Sydney. I often make the point we are the city’s lungs. You need to maintain them. There are a whole range of development issues which people will be looking to voice concerns on.”
In Newcastle, Labor candidate Nuatali Nelmes was re-elected with 43.86% by the time all formal votes were counted.
The race tightened in Wollongong, however, with Gordon Bradbery leading David Brown by only a few thousand votes. It was still too close to call on Saturday night.
About 2.8 million people were enrolled to vote in the 46 council areas which went to the polls, the first council elections since the state government walked away from its controversial amalgamations plan.