Seat of the week: Parramatta

The electorate of Parramatta has existed without interruption since federation, shrinking over time from Sydney’s broad north-western outskirts into the immediate area of the town itself. It presently extends from the Parramatta town centre southwards to Granville, westwards to Wentworthville, northwards to Carlingford and eastwards to Rydalmere. This area is distinguished by a high level of ethnic diversity, being home to particularly large Chinese, Indian and Lebanese communities.

Parramatta was once a conservative stronghold, having only been won for Labor prior to 1977 with the election of Jim Scullin’s government in 1929. Notable members included Joseph Cook, who held the seat for its first 20 years and served as Liberal prime minister from June 1913 to September 1914; Sir Garfield Barwick, member from 1958 to 1964, who served as External Affairs Minister and Attorney-General in the Menzies government before going on to an immensely controversial tenure as Chief Justice of the High Court; and Philip Ruddock, who began his parliamentary career after winning the seat at a by-election in September 1973, adding 7.0% to what had been an extremely narrow margin in 1972.

The watershed in the seat’s history came with a redistribution in 1977 that effectively changed the existing seat’s name to Dundas, of which Philip Ruddock became the inaugural member, while creating a new seat of Parramatta that extended deep into Sydney’s Labor-voting west. The newly safe Labor seat was won by John Brown, the Hawke government Tourism Minister remembered for his dislike of koalas and inappropriate use of his ministerial desk. Brown resigned as minister in 1987 after admitting (which he would later retract) that he had misled parliament, and he was succeeded in Parramatta by Paul Elliott in 1990.

Redistributions in 1984 and 1993 returned the seat to the marginal column by pulling it back to the east, reducing the margin to 1.0% ahead of the 1993 election. Elliott was able to increase his margin on that occasion, but he was unseated by a 7.1% swing in 1996. Incoming Liberal member Ross Cameron held out against a relatively mild swing of 1.1% in 1998, and further survived a highly unfavourable redistribution that pushed the electorate southwards in 2001 by picking up a swing of 3.6%. Shortly before the 2004 election he felt compelled to tell Fairfax’s Good Weekend magazine that he had committed numerous infidelities throughout his married life, and he emerged from the election as one of only three Coalition members to have lost their seat.

Labor’s new member was Julie Owens, classically trained pianist, former chief executive of the Association of Independent Record Labels and member of the Left faction. Owens faced an early challenge when another substantial distribution ahead of the 2007 election pushed the seat back to the north, but she easily accounted for the notional Liberal margin of 0.8% with a 7.7% swing consistent with the western Sydney trend. The redistribution pendulum swung heavily the other way when the seat absorbed the northern half of its abolished southern neighbour Reid ahead of the 2010 election, boosting the margin to 9.5%. There were suggestions this might result in Owens contesting Greenway, which took over the western end of the old Parramatta around Pendle Hill and Kings Langley, with Parramatta going to Owens’ factional mentor, Reid MP Laurie Ferguson. However, Ferguson was instead accommodated in Werriwa and Owens stayed put, surviving a 5.5% swing that reduced her margin to 4.4%.

The Liberals have preselected Martin Zaiter, a 29-year-old partner in a local accountancy firm, who was chosen ahead of a field that included the unsuccessful candidate from 2010, engineer Charles Camenzuli. There has been ongoing speculation over the years that Ross Cameron might seek a return to politics, but invariably in relation to other seats.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,948 comments on “Seat of the week: Parramatta”

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  1. Oh dear, when Laurie Oaks says you’re dribbling shite then I suspect the political pall bearers are brushing down their suits and preparing the hearse. Labor may not win the next election if Abbott is replaced, if Abbott is leader of the Libs then Labor will win.
    Sames goes for Newman, he is now so toxic that he cannot expect to be premier next election. This is a glorious time to hate torries, watching two right threaded wingnuts implode, wonderfulness in the extreme.

  2. The problem for the liberals is the loner they keep Abbott, the harder it is for the new leader to be effective, Abbott has done too much damage.

  3. The problem for the liberals is the longer they keep Abbott, the harder it is for the new leader to be effective, Abbott has done too much damage.

  4. Sir Garfield’s role in the dismissal is of course controversial but his tenure as Chief Justice was not. Much of his work endures today in personal injury and criminal spheres.

  5. @AlboMP: #noalition are walking away from 2016 target date on Pac Hwy by promising funding of $67.9 m before 2016 (the budget allocation from PERL)

  6. @AlboMP: Howard Govt contributed $1.3b while NSW Labor Govt contributed $2.5b – Nats now say NSW Govt can abandon their repeated commitment

    @AlboMP: At the same time they confirm they have abandoned Sydney rail funding

  7. shellbell

    Sir Garfield’s role in the dismissal is of course controversial but his tenure as Chief Justice was not. Much of his work endures today in personal injury and criminal spheres.

    And much of it in the tax field has taken decades to undo. He was a formidable friend of those who employed artificial devices to avoid tax and therefore a foe of the people. Quite consistent with his role in the dismissal.

  8. There are some unflattering photos of the LOTO being run, with says a lot. By the way, it is not a practice I condone. Anyone can be made to look bad with an out of context shot. Gins has been copping it a bit too.

    The photos the MSM choose to run out of the millions they have available says a lot about how they are slanting a story.

  9. It appears Greg Sheridan is continuing his crusade today

    [Eric Campbell @ericcampbellfcp 2m
    Greg Sheridan’s article is a dishonest and intellectually shallow attack on the ABC, from one who ignored the criminality in his own company]
    View details ·
    [Eric Campbell @ericcampbellfcp 7m
    2/2 person who believes so. I challenge Sheridan to produce a single fact to justify this libel]
    View details ·
    [Eric Campbell @ericcampbellfcp 9m
    In The Australian today, Greg Sheridan states ‘many in the ABC’ support totalitarianism. In 25 years at the ABC I have not met a single 1/2]

  10. [Eric Campbell @ericcampbellfcp 42s
    Unlike Greg Sheridan, whose foreign reporting is facilitated by 5-star junkets, I have met victims of totalitarianism throughout the world]
    View details ·

  11. [Eric Campbell @ericcampbellfcp 5s
    If Sheridan cannot produce evidence or withdraw his libel, he reveals himself as an empty ideologue with utter disregard for truth]
    View details ·

  12. Looking at Abbott’s record over a lifetime, as he invites us to do, demonstates one thing absolutely: he’s never faced up to the consequences of his actions.

    Whether it’s getting Daddy and the goon squad to front up to court for him, or walking away from his supposed child, he’s always had someone else take the responsibility for getting him out of sticky situations.

    Now, of course, it’s Peta who manages that.

    I do have a niggling question about his time in the seminary. I can’t see anyone, on even a cursory interview, deciding he was fit for the priesthood.

    One wonders whether he was ‘sent to a monastry’ for a while, in the same way people were in Medieval times, to keep them out of trouble – a sort of anger management thing.

  13. [Zuvele Leschen ‏@ZuveleLeschen
    Revelation: David Marr NOT a Labor dirt unit, but a ‘a highly respected journalist and biographer’ … #auspol]

    @ZuveleLeschen Zoom, is Jamie Briggs a member of Labor Dirt Unit? – … on rumour about COS?

  14. Good Morning Bludgers! 🙂

    So, the Jesuit, Tony Abbott, for whom the motto is, ‘Give me the child before the age of 7, and I will give you the man’, and for whom the ancillary actions of the Prime Minister 17 years ago were of the utmost importance and had to be forensically analysed and parsed for meaning, believes his own actions at University and beyond are simply a case of, “Nothing to see here, move along!” That it can merely be seen as ‘childish’?

    I. Don’t. Think. So.

    That ‘child’ was a man. A Jesuitical zealot using intimidatory behaviour to prevail. It was wrong then, and will be forever.

    These were the actions of a man as he had been crafted by the Jesuits, and as he has been ever since and continues to be.

    As he, himself, said similarly about the PM, it goes to the character of the man who wants to lead our country. And it ain’t pretty.

  15. [If Sheridan cannot produce evidence or withdraw his libel, he reveals himself as an empty ideologue with utter disregard for truth]

    Was there any doubt in the first place?

  16. David Marr is not a legitimate journalist. He’s a crackpot who slams others for being gay even though he’s gay himself. Why didn’t Marr mention the Snow story re: Abbott?

    It doesn’t fit his propagandizing!

  17. Reposted from earlier thread (William’s “new thread” link hasn’t registered on my page – I’ve just double checked, Again)

    [So Abbott, his media & social media cheer squad are finally confronted by the truth about the lying, loud-mouthed, gutless thug from waaay back, who’s been dealing vile, lying abuse out in spades to PM Julia Gillard, but turns shifty, mendacious, gutless wonder when the truth is dealt out to him! It’s not as if his type haven’t been recognised in literature, religious and secular, over millennia. How well these words fit Abbott as retribution catches up with him!

    for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword (Matthew 26:52;King James Version)

    Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits (Mathew 7:20)

    If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
    It were done quickly. If the assassination
    Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
    With his surcease success … But in these cases
    We still have judgment here, that we but teach
    Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
    To plague th’ inventor: this even-handed justice
    Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice
    To our own lips.
    (Shakespeare: Macbeth I vii)
    My emphasis

    I hope Abbott is made pay for every word of the lying, calumination he hurled at Prime Minister Gillard during his despicable campaign to seize her Office for himself.]

  18. zoomster,

    Add me to that, it is an interesting take on it. I can’t imagine getting him out of his undergrad trouble being much fun.

    I wonder how he conducted himself at uni in England? He was probably as meek as a mouse there.

  19. Also this bit from the AFR article is ‘interesting’:

    [Mr Abbott brushed off suggestions that he take legal action, arguing such a response would dignify claims that he simply wished to put to bed.]

    He’s not been shy of ‘lawyering up’ before – I think this says something.

  20. Doing something 35 years ago counts in Abbott’s case, because it goes to the heart of how he conducts himself now. For eg. My parents watch QT all the time. When Abbott gets up to speak on his SSO, my mum leaves the room. She says that she cannot handle his intimadatory and thuggish language. She says it actually sickens her. She feels like anyone listening is being violated. Says it all for me.

  21. [Eric Campbell @ericcampbellfcp 7m
    2/2 person who believes so. I challenge Sheridan to produce a single fact to justify this libel]

    I wonder if Sheridan is bright enough to realise he is now going down with Abbott, after all he clearly believes the nonsense he writes. They both may be thugs, one with his pen the other with his fist, but you do have to admire Sheidan’s last stand in defence of his closest friend.

  22. PTMD,

    This carry on in ME/Africa can’t be just over a film. I await with interest some informed analysis of the situation.

    Al Qaeda in the Maghreb is behind it. So the collective wisdom of ME scholars goes.

    According to them, the locus of power of Al Qaeda has shifted from the AfPak area to the North African states. They have moved quickly to fill the power vacuums after the Arab Spring in countries like Libya and Tunisia.

    Matt Brown’s reports from there this week are good to catch up on if you are interested. Also there was an interview with Martin Indyk that was informative. 🙂

  23. Wow times have changed. Malcolm Fraser seems to be on the side of a Labor Prime Minister. He must really hate what the Noalition has become.

    @MalcolmFraser12: Gillard’s speech impediment, or why the PM is looking a bit silly a friendly article

  24. [Warning swearing.]

    @TrubbellAtMill: At the very root of all the shit in the lives of ordinary Western people sits one man. Rupert Fucking Murdoch.

  25. thanks c@tmomma,
    I assumed there was more to it, but our msm is useless. All they do is show pictures of rioting people. There is more analysis for a football match.

  26. victoria,
    Whenever I see Abbott at the Despatch Box bringing on an attempt to Suspend Standing Orders and railing against the Prime Minister, I can’t help thinking about that photo of him in his suit with the extra-wide, padded shoulders, leaning over the Despatch Box, yelling at the poor PM.

    It just proves that, in his heart of hearts, where these decisions are made, he has no real respect for women.

  27. PTMD,

    Yes, Matt Brown said that bearded men with AK47s were noticed around the edge of the Benghazi riot blocking the exit of anyone who wanted to get away.

  28. [It just proves that, in his heart of hearts, where these decisions are made, he has no real respect for women.]

    Other than Tony and perhaps his familythings what does Tony respect?

  29. What I’ve noticed is that more moderate Mulsims are coming out and telling their violent brethren to pull their heads in.

    Apparently, the mastermind arrested in Melbourne on terrorist conspiracy issues this week was quite surprised that he’d been shopped by more Aussiefied Muslims.

    Surely, a sign of better community integration is respect and adherence to the law of the land.

  30. We Want Paul,
    I have known real respect from a man. I don’t think Tony Abbott is functionally capable of it. Even wrt his family. Love yes, the respect of one equal for another, no.

  31. guytaur
    Is that bloke nuts?
    When I read this, until the end I thought he was writing bout Tony Abbott. He is the one who picks up his seven fluoro vests from the dry-cleaners every Monday morning.

    There is something demeaning about political leaders being all over the news every day. Wearing fluorescent jackets and hard hats is not a bad idea from time to time – it as, after all, good to get out of Canberra and see the economy in action – but they should not be a regular part of a prime ministerial wardrobe.

    Read more:

  32. LOL 🙂 :

    ScottyFreak ‏@ScottyFreak

    Abbott lies about the Labor ‘dirt unit’. Damn, he knows how to lie with impunity! Next thing he’ll say is he didn’t punch a wall! #auspol

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