The electorate of Coogee is both physically and culturally beautiful and enriching. I state this unequivocally, despite the origins of its name. The name "Coogee" is derived from a local Aboriginal word "koojay", which means "smelly place" or in the Bidjigal language "stinking seaweed", a reference to the smell of decaying kelp washed up on the beach. Luckily, I love both the sea and seaweed.
Just as in its natural features, Coogee is a diverse electorate with regards to its people, ranging from residents of luxury beachside homes to those doing it tough, with lots of tradies as well as numerous medical and university personnel, strong groupings of those who are religiously active and many who are very much secular. It is in our beautiful diversity in every way, that the people of Coogee enjoy a unique and strong sense of community.
The electorate of Coogee is home to approximately 83,000 people according to the 2016 census. Our median age is 35 years old, making us younger than the New South Wales as a whole. The most common place of birth for those living in Coogee is Australia at 54%, followed by England, Ireland, New Zealand, China, and South Africa. Residents of the electorate of Coogee are almost two-and-a-half times more likely than the rest of New South Wales to catch public transport to work, and almost twice as likely to walk to work. Our greatest employer is the health industry, and almost half the people living in Coogee are renting, which is significantly higher than the New South Wales average.
Coogee is home to the University of New South Wales, the Prince of Wales Hospital and the Royal Women's Hospital, to many RSL, surf lifesaving and bowling clubs, as well as the famous and popular Randwick Rugby Club, the Roosters and Rabbitohs. The electorate abounds with great beaches, from Tamarama and Bronte, to Clovelly and of course Coogee, along with gorgeous parks, amazing restaurants and cosy pubs. It has the Randwick Ritz, which is a great heritage-listed cinema, and quite a few village-style strip shopping centres. Every night of the week there is always something to do, a cheap meal to have and somewhere to go. On the weekends there are sports to watch, ocean pools to relax in, trees to stroll among and friendly locals to laugh with. Above all there is never a dull moment.
One of the things I love most about the Coogee electorate is how welcoming it is. There are many like me of Irish-Anglo heritage, with a bit of Polish thrown in, whose families have lived in the area for a long time. A great number of our residents, particularly those of Jewish and Catholic heritage, came from Europe and settled in the area after World War II. Since the 1970s and the end of the Vietnam War, Coogee has been enriched by growing numbers of international students and migrants from many countries. It has always been a characteristic of Coogee to embrace everyone, and it is heart-warming to witness this in action every day.
The electorate of Coogee, ranging from Bondi Road to a southern point beyond South Coogee beach, is predominantly an educated, socially engaged population that is very concerned with broader social issues beyond their own immediate self-interests, which includes a commitment to the environment. Coogee residents love their suburbs but care about issues beyond themselves. This is the heart of the electorate, it is loving, accepting and absolutely beautiful in so many ways. It is such an honour to represent this community as the Member for Coogee.