Seat of the week: McMahon

Held by principal Kevin Rudd backer Chris Bowen, McMahon is among the western Sydney seats where Labor appears in danger of a once unthinkable defeat.

UPDATE (8/4/2013): Essential Research has Labor up a point to 32%, the Coalition steady on 49% and the Greens down two to 9%, with two-party preferred steady on 56-44. Perceptions of the economy have improved (good up 10 points since a year ago to 45% and poor down three to 26%). Those who answered good or poor were respectively asked why the government wasn’t popular, and what it was that made them think that given low unemployment and inflation. Strong support was also found for taxing superannuation earnings and contributions of high-income earners, at 55% compared with 35% opposed.

Known prior to the 2010 election as Prospect, the western Sydney electorate of McMahon covers two distinct suburban areas separated by Prospect Reservoir and semi-rural areas immediately to the west. Closer to the city are the suburbs of Greystanes and Fairfield approximately 30 kilometres from the CBD, together with Bossley Park and the Wetherill Park industrial area immediately to the west. These areas collectively account for about 80% of the electorate’s population. In the north-west of the electorate are the City of Penrith suburbs of St Clair and Erskine Park. There is a wide variability in ethnic diversity among the electorate’s suburbs, with English speakers accounting for over three-quarters of the population in St Clair and Erskine Park compared with barely a fifth in and around Fairfield, home to large Arabic and Vietnamese populations. This is broadly reflected in income levels, with family income in the former areas roughly double those of the latter.

Prospect was created at the 1969 election, at which time it covered Liverpool some distance to the south. It was drawn closer to the city with the expansion of parliament in 1984, which saw Liverpool accommodated by the new seat of Fowler. Labor has held the seat at all times, but a weakening trend has been evident since a 5.8% swing in 2004 reduced the margin to 7.1%. This was doubled by the swing to Labor in 2007, but a 6.0% swing in 2010 brought it back down to 7.8%. The area covered by the electorate turned from red to blue in the 2011 state election landslide, the only holdout being Fairfield (the majority of which is in McMahon’s eastern neighbour Blaxland) where the margin was reduced from 20.4% to 1.7%. The swings in Mulgoa, which covers St Clair and Erskine Park, and Smithfield, including Bossley Park and surrounding suburbs, were over 20%.

Prospect/McMahon has been held since 2004 by Chris Bowen, the previous members having been Richard Klugman until 1990 and Janice Crosio thereafter. A member of the New South Wales Right, Bowen served his political apprenticeship as chief-of-staff to state government minister Carl Scully. He was promoted to the front bench in 2006, and on the election of the Rudd government became Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs. His elevation to cabinet came when he filled the vacancy created by the resignation of factional colleague Joel Fitzgibbon in June 2009. He at first assumed the human services, financial services, superannuation and corporate law portfolios, before being delivered the hospital pass of immigration and citizenship after the 2010 election.

Chris Bowen emerged during the current term as one of the principal agitators for Kevin Rudd to return to the leadership, and he was discussed as a possible contender for Treasury and/or the deputy leadership if Rudd’s challenge in February 2012 had succeeded. He emerged unscathed from the reshuffle that followed, and was reassigned to Chris Evans’ portfolios of tertiary education, skills, science and research when Evans bowed out in February 2013. After the collapse of a second bid to draft Kevin Rudd the following month, Bowen forestalled imminent dismissal by joining fellow Rudd backers Martin Ferguson and Kim Carr in an exodus from cabinet.

The preselected Liberal candidate is Ray King, police superintendent for the Liverpool area who served in the same capacity in Fairfield from 2005 to 2008. Fairfield councillor Frank Oliveri had initially been considered the front-runner, but he withdrew amid an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into non-disclosure of election fundraising ahead of the 2007 election. Other contenders for the preselection were Casula real estate agent Joe Romeo and the candidate from 2010, Iraqi immigrant and Fairfield grocery store owner Jamal Elishe.

A ReachTEL automated phone poll of 630 respondents in the electorate, conducted in early March to coincide with five days of campaigning in western Sydney by the Prime Minister, found Bowen to be heading for a heavy defeat with 31.8% of the primary vote against 52.5% for the Liberal Party, panning out to a 62-38 Liberal lead after preferences. A further question on how respondents would vote if Kevin Rudd was leading the Labor Party had the Liberal lead at 53-47.

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.

2,449 comments on “Seat of the week: McMahon”

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  1. Chris is a strong member however looking at the state results and combining it with the current ReachTEL polls it would currently look like a liberal gain.

  2. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    But his record is clean! Nice type.
    Well there’s still the big issue of Abbott’s plegde to remove the low income super support for 3.7m people.
    Another point of difference. Also Abbott’s road funding proposal has no cost/benefit analysis.
    Aln Moir has another dig at Kim Il Idiot.
    David Pope on the super changes.
    Ron Tandberg on real estate expectations.

  3. Sex party supporter, how can anyone endorse the sex party when promote the abuse of vulnerable drug addicts in their sleazy ventures? I assume you would never watch a porn film if it had your mother, sister or daughter in it so why is it okay if someone else is in it? if the porn industry is so mainstream then why do they go out of their way to be anonymous? Who admits to being involved? The charmless FionA Patten apparently wants to be elected even though the sex party wants to legalise ‘golden showers’ in porn. Thats where you have the thrill of being urinated on! (That’s in their policy platform).

    Anyone who supports these pimps is at best a moron.

  4. Also from the land of the free, Limbaugh declares that “much of science is a branch of the Democratic Party”.

    Less flattering for the Democrats, Obama apologises for calling California A-G Kmala Harris “the best looking Attorney Gneral in the country, by far”. Hmmm

  5. Another day with out a Liberal Policy, another victory for Abbott.

    Can he go the whole way without needing to release one policy?.

  6. [BK
    Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:07 am | PERMALINK
    It looks like they will try to delay it to the max.
    The question is whether the media can force the issue.]


  7. a sensible explanation of the super changes

    [Total superannuation tax breaks have grown from $26 billion, then to $34 billion now, and are put at $47 billion a year by 2015-16. You can blame the Howard government, which removed the reasonable benefit limits, and made payouts tax free.

    There is no raid on superannuation savings. Despite Abbott’s claims, there is no new tax on superannuation payouts. These reforms tackle taxes on future earnings of superannuation funds, and close a loophole in the means test for pensions.

    The biggest nibble would cap the loophole by which retirees on income streams are not taxed on their funds’ earnings.

    The second nibble would have a wider cost: Labor will scrap its plan to allow people with less than $500,000 in their account to put in $50,000 a year at the concessional 15 per cent tax rate, instead of the $25,000 cap now applying.

    The third nibble would close the loophole by which people with large super savings can still qualify for the pension. The pension income test would be changed so we are deemed to have earned the same income from super savings as we already are from savings held in bank deposits or stocks.]

    Howard brought in super rorts that enable him to claim pension benefits when he was booted from offices that are supposed to be only for those in need.

    A tax free super generous parliamentary not enough for Howard, he needed the pension benefits also.

    he is a bigger whinger than joel

  8. BK

    I beg to differ by a little. It is a question whether the public will stand for a campaign with no policy from the LNP.

    If the public don’t those Labor messages about LNP policy will cut through despite the media not reporting it.

    That will force the media to start asking questions.

  9. Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    for lurking and troll liberals

    and for people who want to know about our future

    not 1950

    all welcome


    my say

    Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    for the sporting enthused

    who cannot live with out their heros


    my say

    Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    now for a bit of knowledge,

    would you really want to live in the past


    my say

  10. The question is whether the ALP, with clever political strategy can force the media or the Liberal Party to force the issue.

  11. i am not sure what troll rummell means

    abbot stil has no policy except to let people like you

    have less super

    you realy have no idea rummell

  12. [my say
    Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:18 am | PERMALINK
    i am not sure what troll rummell means

    abbot stil has no policy except to let people like you

    have less super

    you realy have no idea rummell]


    Im happy to loose lots of things this year and vote against self intrest to kick Gillard Labor out.

  13. silly me just posted to a troll

    they are very smart they think they take up room on a pagel

    for example my enlightend links about our future,
    they fill up the pages with confusing rubbish

    liberal know abbott has no policies, so its all waffle

    but you answer them,,,,, good policy good chating to good labor people makes trolls have NO effect

    stand tall be proud of who you are and who you represent

    who would really be proud to represent some one who takes from the poor and does nothing about the rich
    giving back to the country,

    funny thing about it some of the liberals here i would say do not have TWO MILLIION IN SUPER and THEY want less super in their retirement work that out, only they can

    IN THEIR tiny minds

  14. It is obvious that the liberal parties platform will contain some pro-austerity elements. I however do not think it will cost them the election. When the global economy is bad people tend to be willing to cut government spending because there does not seem to be an alternative economic model out there. Just look at elections in Spain, Greece, and Portugal were people were willing to elect pro-austerity parties into government. Even in the UK the country almost elected the Conservatives into a majority government, and the UK is more to the left then Australia is. Italy is a special case because Beppe Grillo promised something else which is beyond the left right axis. However in Australia both parties are promising the same old. When the Liberal party starts implementing its economic policy it is certain to take a hit at the polls, however this will not save the Labor Party this time around.

  15. Now we get the whinging in the MSM that “what if I am an ordinary level Super person and in a bull market my fund earnings exceed $100K …. so I’ll be slugged 15% for the >$100K earnings ……. woe is me”.

    Yep, and if the ordinary person with a $1mill Super accounts suddenly earns twice as much, $200K in one year (and not the ordinarily expected $100K) all they’ll actually get is $185 K ($15K tax).

    What moron would prefer to get $100K untaxed, instead of $200K with $15K tax lost ie a net $185K.

    Bring on a bull market every year! I’ll happily share 15% of anything above $100K earnings with my fellow citizens.

    Isn’t it amazing that a tax rate of 15% on income is suddenly a humongous impost.

  16. [guytaur
    Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:46 am | PERMALINK
    “@guytaur: 66 days since PMJG announced election date. Policies LNP? Any?

    What a shocking 66 days it has been for Labor.

  17. “@guytaur: 66 days since PMJG announced election date. Policies LNP? Any?

    I hate to say this but the Liberals will say that at this point before an election Labor did not have any polices out either, and it is in fact correct. Tony Blair used to say then in opposition you need to put out ideas but not a detailed plan which can be attacked.

  18. guytaur
    Unfortunately the media ARE the public!
    Through the means of disengagement of the public.
    Superficiality matters to the disengaged.

  19. ASPS

    Its no excuse. Public deserves to know sooner rather than later. Time to analyse policy that politicians want to hide due to spin.

    It was just as bad when Labor did it too.

  20. [Australian Sex Party supporter
    Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:50 am | PERMALINK
    “@guytaur: 66 days since PMJG announced election date. Policies LNP? Any?

    I hate to say this but the Liberals will say that at this point before an election Labor did not have any polices out either, and it is in fact correct. Tony Blair used to say then in opposition you need to put out ideas but not a detailed plan which can be attacked.]

    Correct, we had “me too” Kev stitched to the arse of John Howard.

  21. []

    maybe Canberra will turn a little bit away from Labor

  22. my say@19

    funny thing about it some of the liberals here i would say do not have TWO MILLIION IN SUPER and THEY want less super in their retirement work that out, only they can

    IN THEIR tiny minds

    my say

    As Rummell said, Lib voters are quite happy to vote against their own self interest in order to “punish” Labor.

    They deserve an Abbott led government.

    The rest of us though, deserve a government that will look after us and act in Australia’s benefit.

  23. @kimmaree_tweet: Nice piece by @JacquelineMaley in today’s @smh calling out NewsLtd for targeting the Gov with Opposition narrative on Super changes P11

  24. Why would you release a policy if you were the tone ? Mike Carlton sums it up pretty well in the smh, why give a sucker a break ?

    After all the budgets next and that’s a lose lose for the party – spend to much and they’ll be attacked as profligate, cut or tax and they’ll lose popularity because they haven’t prepared people for austerity after 6 years of dodging tough decisions. After all this is the labor party which has a 50 per cent cgt discount – someone has to pay!

  25. Correct, we had “me too” Kev stitched to the arse of John Howard.

    Kev had a number of things going for him that the Labor Party did not take into account such as him being an opposition stronghold which allowed him to bring home the bacon in Queensland. He was also very charismatic guy, well if you remember him in 2007 he was. Gillard has none of those things going for her, I really dont want to get into an argument on this point but at least for me I am never at the edge of my seat like I was with Kevin when she talks.

  26. The “me too” thing did not end up working as well for Turnbull because he did not have the charisma. Then Tonny came along and turned the “me too” into “f*** you” and from a poltical stand point it did end up working.

  27. Looks like Sophie is headed off to court again —

    [Mr Suta alleged the note to Cr O’Brien implied Mr McPhie used his position as a councillor to promote or organise a protection racket, engaged in illegal and criminal activity associated with the protection racket and, as such, was not a fit and proper person to hold the position of councillor.

    Mr Suta said yesterday Mrs Mirabella responded before the deadline, but rejected she defamed Mr McPhie and wouldn’t be making an apology to him.

    “It will all be up to Mr McPhie to decide whether he wants to take it further,” Mr Suta said.

    “But the advice of the legal counsel is we should.”

    The only time I took a defamation case to my solicitor (a laid down misere one, too) he told me not to proceed – so this one must be pretty clear cut.

  28. [ Then Tonny came along and turned the “me too” into “f*** you” and from a poltical stand point it did end up working.]


  29. An example of the sort of statistic that everyone needs to understand:

    If you earn $110,000 per annum through working, you pay about $28,000 of that in tax (before medicare levy and deductions), an effective rate of about 26% and a marginal rate of 37%. If you are aged 60 or over and retired and have $2.2 million in superannuation earning 5%, you pay $1,500 per annum in tax, an effective rate of 1.4%, with a marginal rate of 15%.

    If you earn $70,000 per annum through working, your effective tax rate is about 20%, while it is zero if you have those earnings from super and you are 60 or over.

    Self-funded retiree = self-funded whinger.

  30. The Libs, if elected and I don’t think they will, will impose austerity to “return to surplus.”

    Every country that has tried that has gone into recession. 71 pages of documentation of austerity and the suffering it has brought:

    Have to laugh, Abbott promising funding for a road no planning has been done on while knocking back rail—Abbott PM will fund very little beyond basic maintenance of roads. Howard didn’t, Howard reduced road spending to have bigger surpluses to have more pork, reduced health and education too.

    Look for 8% unemployment at least after a year of Abbott, PM. By then already the Libs may have kicked out hollow man Abbott and put some right wing ideologue in his place. But yeah, “have to get rid of Gillard Labor” hahahahahah! The tories always manage to get lots of people to vote against their own economic self interest.

    The peepul elect Abbott PM and 3 months on:

    1. the NBN is gone, never to come back. Crap spouted by Turnbull about FTTN/HFC shown to be just bullshit, a smokescreen, to disguise that we will never get decent broadband thanks to Abbott, PM. Funny thing is, high speed internet a la NBN will significantly boost GDP.

    2. Pensioners have had their pensions cut, tax free threshold is cut—yes, they will be cut, to achieve a “surplus” remember—and the first of 70,000 public servants sacked. Lots of part time workers quit work, not worth it with a $6K tax free threshold. Already unemployment will have a 6 in front of it. Those still working save/pay mortgages at a higher rate, retail about dies, so add private sector employees to the unemployment scrap heap.

    3. Once hollow man Tone is out the way WorkChoices worse than ever will return.

    4. Fed education and health spending again goes backwards. Great, just as avian flu seems to be coming back. Maybe, like the Can’t in Qld, the Libs believe in sympathetic magic? Abolish centres for study of superbugs, TB, HIV, infectious tropical diseases etc will see superbugs, TB, HIV/AIDS etc magically disappear?

    5. The carbon “tax” will be converted to an ETS, or renamed, but in any case kept tho the compensation as I have shown will be removed—the Libs have a $70Bn black hole to fill and want to achieve a “surplus” remember?

    6. The GST will be boosted to 15 or 20%. We know who will get the huge compensatory income tax cuts right? Nobody here will get those. Retail dies a bit more.

    Want to see what Abbott PM would do—just look at the UK. And for what? A tiny public debt? The problem is not the public debt, it is the private sector debt and even more so the financial sector debt. Like in the UK, these debts will not be tackled.

    Thanks, won’t vote for the stinking Libs.

  31. Just switched 24 off. Can’t stand that fat face or the lies. Nobody’s super is being raided FFS! She will be a Minister in a Lib govt. AAARGGHHH!

  32. Edward St John@35

    After all this is the labor party which has a 50 per cent cgt discount – someone has to pay!

    That was another rort for the rich introduced by Howard/Costello, not Labor.

    Under the previous Labor government (Hawke/Keating) the cost base was adjusted for inflation for capital gains tax calculations.

    Admittedly, the new Labor government(s) haven’t repealed this rort, but don’t blame them for introducing it.

  33. Also the media is always quick to say that Julia has the advantage in SA because she was born there, and Victoria. However they fail to say that Tony is from NSW which is also one of the problems. No matter how you spin it the leader of a party gives a boost to their political party in their home state. Win NSW and you win government was the saying until 2010. I could be wrong on this one but I think it was the first time in history were a party did not win the TPP in NSW and still won the election.

  34. guytaur

    [Mirabella on 24 now]

    Thanks for the warning. I have 24 on now but with about 20 delay.

    Time to ‘mute’ and go have a shower.

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