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. Senator Conway on Lateline just now: “You shouldn’t believe anything you read in the Daily Telegraph about the NBN or this Government”.

    Nor, he could have added, anything else. The Telecrap didn’t even contact Senator Conway’s office for comment, just printed without question a leak from the Coalition’s NBN policy.

  2. 2385

    Bombing military targets (naval port facilities, air bases, army bases, etc.) would have been entirely reasonable as long as they were not too near civilians.

  3. CC:

    In (I think) May next year it is likely that the ACT Chief Minister will be the most senior Labor person in the country.

    Better than “Brisbane Lord Mayor” which was the Lib position a little while back :devil:

  4. 2378/2382

    The ANC were terrorists.

    So she was wrong about them ruling – no one expected the Berlin Wall to come down either.

  5. Compact gets concise!…; “Must really be gutting to realise that in a short time frame it is quite possible that there will be no ALP governments anywhere in Australia.”
    Now who was that famous Greek leader who replied to such a concise opinion with the one word…: “IF”..?

  6. Confessions:

    You can huff and puff all you like. We are not discussing whether politicians can and should be criticised. We are discussing whether it is appropriate to rejoice in the announcement of someone’s death.

    You seemed to imply it is OK if the person is a pollie. If that is wrong, please correct it.

    I then asked whether that same rule will apply to Whitlam and Hawke?

  7. I won’t be hypocritical about Thatcher. Seeing her on LL reminds me of her ‘no society’ comnent but it’s a relief for someone suffering ill health as she has.

    Thanks William. Popular bloke then.

  8. Had enough of reading right-wing porn’ for one night…They can’t do the real thing and they can’t explain why they would like to, so all they do is complain about the govt’….Looking at those they put forward to rule their party, I must concede it has to be testicle envy!

  9. Mod Lib:

    It isn’t me huffing and puffing. Frankly I could care less about Thatcher, and believe her govt to have been a pretty regressive regime in the UK.

    It’s that which has sent you huffing and puffing.

    Fine, so be it, you disagree. Whatever. Not my problem.

  10. I saw it observed that #nowthatchersdead was in danger of being misread as “Now that Cher’s dead”, giving a false impression that the voice of I Got You Babe and If I Could Turn Back Time had been stilled.

  11. 2404

    There were lots of people who expected the ANC would eventually win. They had (and do still have as of the last election) the support of a majority of the South African Population. On the terrorism issue, in this case, it does come down to the old saying “one man`s terrorist is another man`s freedom fighter”.

    Lots of people new that the Berlin wall would come down eventually. It was the timing that was unexpected.

  12. Mod Lib

    [As long as you hate equally I suppose 🙂 ]
    When it comes to “hate” Labor’s Tony Blah is neck and neck with the Tories Maggie T

  13. [2365
    Compact Crank

    Briefly @2362]

    Because your left/right tags are completely misplaced. Ideology lives on in the LNP, but is largely a dead-letter elsewhere.

    You use simplistic labels. This just disguises the complexity and the liveliness of those you are committed to opposing. It shows you do not understand the world or your own place in it, and that rather than trying to use reason, you are content with slogans. It is lazy, dishonest and eventually self-defeating.

  14. [William Bowe
    Posted Monday, April 8, 2013 at 10:49 pm | PERMALINK
    I saw it observed that #nowthatchersdead was in danger of being misread as “Now that Cher’s dead”]

  15. Vale Maggie Thatcher.

    It will be interesting to see if Cameron enjoys a poll bounce as a result of public grief at the loss of a conservative icon.

  16. Ah,no. Bob Francis. 5AA.

    Touting the line the NBN is now 90 bill. Follows up with chemist ads for flu, artfularthuritis and so on.

    Hello, anyone out there, pleads for a caller.

    Brian calls in.

    Talks about traffic congestion in Adelaide. On a bus,apparently. Awards bouquet to RAH for his radiology appointment, allowing him in despite all. Totally unexpected by Bob dicho head.

    Producer comes in to talk up politics, Labor stuffed sort of stuff.

  17. [I saw it observed that #nowthatchersdead was in danger of being misread as “Now that Cher’s dead”, giving a false impression that the voice of I Got You Babe and If I Could Turn Back Time had been stilled.]


    Love it.

  18. Bongiorno nails it again.

    “@PaulBongiorno: Margaret Thatcher had difficulty with the concept of society. She was however a tough conviction politician.”

  19. William
    Thatcher’s song is definitely “If I Could Turn Back Time”. The only thing lacking from her bravura performance on the Falklands was straddling a 40mm gun in fishnets on a battleship in the Thames.

    (That’s what Alexander Downer was trying to describe when caught on film, I believe.)

  20. PuffTheMagicDragon PuffTheMagicDragon ‏@PuffyTMD 18m

    Condolences to the family of Baroness Margaret Thatcher. A strong public figure in the 2nd 1/2 of 20th Century, 1st female British PM. RIP

  21. CC….sinking the Belgrano was political theatre, not military necessity. She killed hundreds of sailors for her own political gain. As for attacking Argentina, really, you are a spendthrift when it comes to hiring the blood of others.

  22. What Thatcher really was !!
    _____ The _mistress of the ruling tory elite who loved her because she attacked the post-war settlement as defined by the Atlee Govt after the great Labor landslide in 1945. then followed.the nationalisation of key industries.the world’s first National Health scheme/the UK welfare state/much public housing..and slum abolition….
    All of this the Tories hated and it took 45 years before they could mount under Thatcher the attack on working people and the gains they made..and always assisted by the fiends of the Murdoch Press
    ….and it still goes on today…as the Torie and their Lib Dems allies slash and burn what little remains…and in it’s place we see many in the UK once again on the edge of poverty like the 1930ies

    But of course the Wealthy Elites loved her…they would wouldn’t they ?…she was in the end their servant !

  23. Gauss @ 2397

    Yes, these maps are probably the best readily accessible information on rainfall and temperature trends in Australia. One thing that is clear is the drying out of the SW of WA on all timescales. The warming across most of the continent is also striking across all time scales.

  24. [Then why it any different when its Thatcher.

    Because nobody is lining up to defend, or even own her record in govt.]

    Yes they are if you read the UK blogs.

  25. I don’t think there’s any milage in expressing satisfaction at Maggie Thatcher’s death. Discuss her legacy by all means but I don’t see any point in mocking those who admire her and may be saddened by her passing. And it reflects badly on LWBHLSS*.

    Ditto in due course for Messrs Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Howard and, in the fullness of time, R****.

    P.S. All of our PM’s who have held office since 1972 are still with us. Those who attained office before 1972 have proceeded to the big debating society in the sky.

    * Left Wing Bleeding heart Latte Sipping Socialists

  26. What about Rupert ??
    A recent Oz book on Murdoch’s politics looked at his close links to Thatcher…who was the politician he most admired and supported with all his power..and that was a lot !

    She hated the welfare state and all the” socialist”as does Rupert and he had an entree to No !0 at any time.
    What she did he liked and he saw her as the best politican of his lifetime..his prtess helped smash the unions and take away many small gains for working men and women

    While her death changes nothing…have no doubt that Murdoch’s will change his great $Empire…His Kids/like Packer’s ..haven’t the political views or the will.. of their fathers
    Rupert’s death will change the press here and elsewhere…for the better….may it be soon!
    He is the worst media figure in history…worse than Dr Goebells

  27. Steve 777

    [I don’t think there’s any milage in expressing satisfaction at Maggie Thatcher’s death.]

    As someone who rejects metaphysics, it would be odd to find myself rejoicing or being ‘satisfied’ at a death — particularly as at the end she was a mere withered husk. I have no strong feelings about her end at all.

    In her political life, she was an unscrupulous and brutal class warrior. I stood alongside Scargill and the miners in 1984-5 when pickets were charged by mounted police. I recall her declaration that there was no society. I wonder if she’ll get a state funeral?

    She was a repulsive exemplar of humanity. Plainly, she hated the concept. Let people recall that when her name is raised in conversation.

  28. [sinking the Belgrano was political theatre, not military necessity. She killed hundreds of sailors for her own political gain. ]

    Nah, the military equivalent of a short note saying, “keep thy navy in port” and quite effective as such.

  29. Today’s NBN. presser demonstrates that the LNP. coalition is a “three-legged stool”, with one leg being the OM. with a now very ricketty joint!

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