Seat of the week: Fowler

Three years ago, the outer western Sydney seat of Fowler was Labor’s third safest in the country. Now it fears it might lose.

Fowler covers an area of Labor’s western Sydney heartland from Lansvale, Liverpool and Cabramatta in the east, through Hinchinbrook and Cecil Hills to undeveloped territory beyond the Westlink. The electorate has the second highest number of non-English speakers of any electorate in the country, ranking in the top ten for persons of Chinese, Vietnamese, Serbian and Croatian extraction. The redistribution ahead of the 2010 election halved its geographic size by exchanging semi-rural territory around Badgerys Creek for urban areas around Liverpool and Lansvale (largely reversing changes made before the 2004 election), boosting the Labor margin by 4.5% and making it their third safest seat in notional terms. It then proceeded to swing more heavily against Labor than any other seat in the country, slashing the margin 22.6% to 8.8% – the first time Labor’s margin had fallen to single figures since the seat’s creation.

Fowler was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984, and held first by Ted Grace until 1998 and then by Julia Irwin until 2010. Chiefly noted as a critic of Israel, Irwin secured the seat with the backing of the old guard of the NSW Right, including Laurie Brereton and Leo McLeay. Irwin twice needed protection to secure her preselection in the past, and there were mixed reports about her likely job security at the 2010 election had she not not opted to retire. In doing so she resolved a headache for the ALP, which had been absorbed by a game of musical chairs resulting from the effective abolition of Laurie Ferguson’s seat of Reid. Ferguson was at first determined to be accommodated in Fowler, but a deal was in force reserving the seat for a Right faction which was also dominant in local branches. He was instead made to settle for Werriwa, displacing Chris Hayes to highly marginal Macarthur.

However, Irwin’s departure gave Hayes, a fellow member of the Right, an immensely more attractive safety net, and also allowed local favourite Nick Bleasdale to unsuccessfully contest Macarthur for a second time. Hayes was a former official with the Right faction Australian Workers Union official who entered parliament at the February 2005 by-election caused by the resignation of Mark Latham. Earlier this week he attained the position of chief government whip, which Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon vacated in March after backing Kevin Rudd’s abortive leadership push. The Liberal candidate is Andrew Nguyen (a name he shares with the LNP candidate for Oxley in Queensland), a former Fairfield councillor and long-standing figure in Cabramatta’s Vietnamese community.

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.

232 comments on “Seat of the week: Fowler”

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    Form – 2 Mins – 3 Free Quotes. No Obligation, Independent Quotes

    Tony Abbott’s proposed fiscal approach, outlined in his budget reply on Thursday, is based on some disconcerting gaps in logic. Mr Abbott says that if the Coalition were to be elected on September 14, it would aim to ”take the budget pressure off Australian households, and … strengthen our economy so that, over time, there’s more to go round for everyone”. But his initiatives suggest the Coalition would be a government for business, not the people. Mr Abbott may offer platitudes suggesting the Coalition cares for the broad swath of middle Australia and their ambitions, but its focus will be profit above people; those on low incomes and the disadvantaged will be left behind.

    Take, for example, Mr Abbott’s plan to scrap the twice-a-year payments to people on low incomes and government benefits. Here we find his first contradiction. This is not a payment to dole bludgers, as some conservatives like to deem anyone who receives government payments. The supplementary allowance, introduced by the Gillard government in the 2012 budget, totals just $210 a year and is payable to those on Newstart, the youth allowance, parenting payments, Austudy, sickness allowances, the exceptional circumstances payment, transitional farm family payment or special benefit. One million people are eligible for it, but, if Mr Abbott has his way, they can forget even such modest assistance.

    Read more:

  2. Repeated from last thread:
    Warren Mundine ready to assume position of power under Tony Abbott
    BY:NATASHA ROBINSON From: The Australian May 18, 2013

    [FORMER Labor Party national president Warren Mundine is poised to assume a powerful position in indigenous affairs under a conservative government after forging an extraordinary alliance with Tony Abbott that he declared was “bigger than partisan politics”.

    The Opposition Leader – who has pledged to place indigenous affairs directly under his control in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet if elected – has been grooming Mr Mundine for months as a key adviser and is likely to offer an executive position to the former Labor stalwart if a Coalition government is elected, The Weekend Australian can reveal.]

  3. Now it fears it might lose. Rubbish!.
    Once this video is shown nationally, Abbott will be shown for what this man really is, a con artist!.


    To make matters worse for Abbott and his cronies were

    Katter had the document in his hand

    and Windsor knew Abbott was desperate to get to them before they could see the document

  4. I know a ‘concern troll’ when I see/read one…

    It ain’t over by a long way …if it was, why do all Liberals & their spruikers sound so desperate and un-hinged every time they do pressers & i/v’s/write columns/appear on Lateline, MTP, Agenda, etc? It’s like they’re trying ever so hard to convince us …that they feel they have to shout & talk over everyone to get THEIR point across …just confirms that they’re very worried…

    They sound anything but confident … They know they’re offering Australian voters a crock of sh*t …and they’re terrified their insane leader will stuff up.

    The wave of relief on the Coalition benches after Abbott finished his campaign launch on Thurs was palpable… relief that Abbott managed to get through the speech without stumbling too much over the big words …or going into a head-nodding silent brain freeze. Relief that he remembered to follow the cues and look earnestly & sincerely into the camera at the right times.

    The content was irrelevant …they all knew it was just a pile of re-heated junk-policies jumbled together with asinine patronizing nonsense designed to fool gullible souls into believing that Abbott is a sensitive,caring,family orientated ‘regular guy’ …’salt of the Earth’ type of unassuming person who rides a thousand kilometres to make the lives of poor & unfortunate souls that little bit more bearable …So don’t be afraid …Abbott will look after you all …don’t you worry about that…blah …blah …blah ..

    Abbott is a dud …a crazy dud. The Coalition has absolutely NOTHING to offer voters …

    What could possibly go wrong over the next 4 months? …It’s in the bag…

  5. Finally saw Pyne on 24.

    The only image that came to my mind was that of the whining kid in the schoolyard. How dare you attack me and my friends in the way I have been attacking you and your friends.

    Not going to win any votes there I think.

  6. I imagine that the first thing that Mundine will want to do is to have Abbott publicly dissociate himself from Giles’ stated intention of targetting the capture of Indigenous children for forced adoption.

  7. Andrew Robb gets the funniest guy of the day award when he found out his Green Loans Savings were an illusion.

    [He says the budget variation should have been announced.]

    They were Andrew, you just failed to look. Do you want the Govt to do all of your work for you?

    There were not that many savings measures in Tony’s speech, surely someone in the Coalition would have checked them against Tuesday’s Budget papers?

    Oh no, too busy cracking the champagne.

  8. [2652
    Thomas. Paine.

    I shall be around after the 15th to remind you all of your complicit support for Abbott]

    And we will pay just as much attention then as we have in the past.

  9. Is Hockey really silly or is this a fake?

    [JoeHockeyMP ‏@JoeHockey_MP 1h
    Expect #insiders to be a doddle tomorrow. Don’t expect any rocket science questions ]

  10. rua

    I think its fake

    “@farrm51: “@JoeHockey_MP: Expect #insiders to be a doddle tomorrow.” @latingle @dwabriz & I can’t agree whether to call u genius or genius AND saint.”

  11. I have been amused by the frequent repetition on ABC24 of Abbott & Hockey. Abbott pointing at something in a “book” and Hockey doing concerned nodding and lip-compressing to show how bad things are.

    Not very good acting 😆

  12. [THE cost of Brisbane’s proposed Cross River Rail project has blown out by almost $1 billion. Last year, Transport Minister Scott Emerson said the LNP Government had been able to almost halve the original $8 billion price tag to $4.45 billion – but it turns out that was in “2010 dollars”.

    Yesterday, his spokesman said the new figure – $5.2 billion – was the estimated cost of the project in 2020.

    Mr Emerson yesterday conceded Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was “not backing Cross River Rail” but he remained committed to lobbying the Coalition and federal Labor.]

    This is Brisbane’s most critical bit of public transport infrastructure, if nothing is done it will mean 17,000 people a day will need to use their car.

    So the LNP play silly buggers and politics. 🙁

  13. I opened my front door earlier today and had the speaker of the H of R standing in front of me. She is great to talk to. Even had my generally Liberal voting family member saying he’d vote for her if he lived in her electorate, which he doesn’t unfortunately.

  14. [Malcolm Farnsworth ‏@mfarnsworth 16m
    @Colvinius @Rhys_Needham Remember Peter Reith winning by-election in Dec 1982? Never took up his seat because of Mar 1983 DD.]

    But…but…but! I read in today’s OO that the last DD election was in 1975. Surely The Heart of the Nation wouldn’t get something like that wrong?! 😮

  15. I cannot believe the LNP supporters are so THICK.

    [In order to better understand the impact of climate change on development, the World Bank commissioned a scientific report, Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided. The report concluded that the world will warm by 4°C, on average, by the end of this century with devastating consequences if we don’t take concerted action now.]

    [A strong price signal in major economies is essential to establish the right incentives and to direct financial flows away from carbon-intensive growth to low-carbon investments.

    A carbon price can be achieved through markets or taxes, and different instruments will be appropriate in different countries for different sectors of the economy. But market-based mechanisms are likely to deliver large-scale emission reductions more efficiently and quickly – and with the climate problem, time is not our friend.]

  16. lizziee

    66% of Liberals believe that they are smarter scientists than 97% of the world’s climate scientists.

    How thick is that?


    TTony Abbott has revealed the goods and services tax could be included in a full review of the tax system if the Coalition is elected, raising the prospect the 10 per cent rate could be lifted or the tax broadened to include food, education and health services.

    The decision to review the controversial tax, which Labor ducked with its Henry tax review in 2008, will likely invite a ferocious scare campaign from the government in the run-up to the September 14 election.

    Within hours of Mr Abbott revealing the scope of his proposed taxation white paper, the government went on the warpath, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard warning of an expanded GST and ”all of the cost of living problems that that would give Australian families”.

    Read more:

  18. SeanTisMe

    From Abbott’s perspective, the beauty of global warming is that if you ignore it, it will go away all by itself.

    Just like Whyalla.


  19. Tony Abbott stated that his 14,000 Green (non public servant) Army would increase workplace participation, how?

    The only way is if the 14,000 were not IN the workforce.

    Is Conscription to his Green Army on the cards?

  20. rua @ 30

    Well, you see, they were in the forgotten families.

    Someone forgot to put them in the labor market and Abbott has a plan to (a) put them in the labour market (b) make them unemployed as soon as they are in the labour market and (c) conscript them into false employment, paying them less than the going wage, and thus fix a problem that could not, in terms of labour market statistics, have existed int he first place.

    This guy is an economic genius.

    I can hardly wait for the 2,000,000 jobs that Abbott is going to create.

  21. Gary

    Posted Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    I opened my front door earlier today and had the speaker of the H of R standing in front of me. She is great to talk to. Even had my generally Liberal voting family member saying he’d vote for her if he lived in her electorate, which he doesn’t unfortunately

    gary after weeks of sending an elderly liberal

    rusted on for years and years

    they todays emailed / its in god hands and they like mr clare.

    I have been explaining that this time around is different

    abbott is no malcom frazer or Menzies

    have been sending them on line new s

    they have never read before

    I think the no show of the libs re ndis vote did the trick
    for them.
    so try things like that

    also the pension, cuts and things that will hurt them
    I put people in groups,, no good talking to uni student
    a about poor old grandmas pension,

    so its horses for courses
    hope it works

  22. forgotten families

    tea party talk
    its all brain washing,,people don’t think

    well who are they, they just think o well yes I am forgotten of course they are not.

    what happened to expat did he go back to where he came from was it the u s a

  23. forgotten families

    tea party talk
    its all brain washing,,people don’t think

    well who are they, they just think o well yes I am forgotten of course they are not.

    what happened to expat did he go back to where he came from was it the u s a

  24. 19

    If Abbott looses the election, and the ALP campaign on Commonwealth urban PT funding (which, at least in Melbourne, they look like doing), then I think it will be seen as a major reason they lost and urban PT funding will become bipartisan.

    Abbott may come to regret his National Party (Historically and currently Commonwealth urban PT funding`s biggest enemy) views.

  25. [Abbott may come to regret his National Party (Historically and currently Commonwealth urban PT funding`s biggest enemy) views.]

    His comment on urban rail was bizarre, it will haunt him later in life.

  26. [TTony Abbott has revealed the goods and services tax could be included in a full review of the tax system if the Coalition is elected, raising the prospect the 10 per cent rate could be lifted or the tax broadened to include food, education and health services]


    from the link above post 27

    re health how does one pay gst on health if you
    go bulk bills,\\
    so no more bulk billing then

    so what if you health cover covers all your sugery
    say its 1000 dollars so you pay the gst on

    some one please ask these questions

  27. gp bulk bills

    the ther one is pathology

    we never pay it s always bulk billed

    so business would have to start issuing bills
    more work more red tape

    just for the g s t
    or will they be told no more bulk billing

    so.ok how does that work mr abbott

  28. Dave
    Thanks for that.

    Another question.

    Lowering interest rates is meant to boost the housing market.

    Surely a 0.25% cut in rates means almost nothing over the 30 years it takes to pay off a mortgage?

  29. Just got polled by Nielsen regarding the Fed election. The usual questions, approve/disapprove of leadership, yes or no to local council referendum, six questions on the Budget and one on the baby bonus abolition.

    Re Budget
    Were you satisfied or not satisfied?
    Was it a fair budget?
    Was it a responsible Budget?
    Did the budget leave you better off or worse off
    Do you think the budget will be in surplus in 2015 as suggested ?
    (I couldn’t scribble fast enough for the 6th question)

    Each question was of the “very satisfied, a bit satisfied, very unsatisfied or a bit unsatisfied” variety.
    The question “will the Budget leave you better off or worse off” had only four options (much better, a little better, much worse, a little worse) there was no option for none of the above, or “no impact on me”. I asked the guy why not, and he replied “you can say anything and I will write it down”. So I answered ” no effect on me”. The rest of the questions I answered pro-Labor ‘very satisfied.’

  30. 40

    It was a probably a combination of no perceived interest in urban PT, a desire for reduced spending expectations for his new government and the though that a knitting based metaphor would make him seem more in line with women`s thinking.

    It will probably go down in History as part of Abbott`s Fightback II.

  31. [THE coalition has accused the federal government of running a “hysterical scare campaign” over superannuation, as Labor MPs across the country rally to warn that Tony Abbott would cut retirement savings to the bone. ]

    Well it was Chris “hysterical” Pyne not really the Coalition. How can facts be a scare campaign Chris?

  32. Sean Tisme
    Posted Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    How much colder is the world now that Gillards making Australians pay a carbon tax?
    ———————————————————–Its not a tax it is a carbon price.

    How is Abbott going to fund Direct Action, no mention in his budget reply.

    The way people like you talk we should do nothing about polluting the atmosphere. In years to come when you are proven wrong and wake to find we should have done something it will be too late. Like not insuring your home, watch burn down and then try to insure it…

  33. confessions


    2,000,000 jobs would end up being a ‘non core promise’.’

    No. I believe him. 2,000,000 jobs coming up.

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