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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  1. Boerwar:

    Yes, I can totally understand the logic of uneven sea level rises across the planet, even though I don’t understand enough about the remaining geological assumptions underpinning that theory to make a comment.

    Nevertheless, Sth America being badly impacted (as was argued in the paper) would create huge problems for the US in terms of refugees. How karmament given the US is being held hostage to an even greater extent than we are by the denialists and the pig-ignorant in their quest to avoid all action whatsoever on AGW and its effects.

  2. [Boerwar
    Posted Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm | PERMALINK
    Stick with mari. Truth can be a lonely place but I would rather be on the Truth Island than the Lies Island.]

    A very true comment thank you Boerwar , hope you make some room for me on your truth island 🙂

  3. Poor ol’ Jean-Paul Dentist has his nuts in a bind.

    [“What we can’t guarantee is that we will be able to maintain a 1:1 ratio of computers to students, which originally was the promise,” ]

    So the LNP promise that they will keep a 1:1 ratio until they decide that they do not like Gonski, sorry guys if you refuse funding its your problem.

  4. And then Tony the PM spoke a third time and he said “Climate change is crap” and he said “Carbon dioxide is weightless” and he said “the best way to control carbon is with a simple tax” and then he said “this bad tax based on a lie will ruin the economy”, and although it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t a tax and it wasn’t based on a lie and it didn’t ruin the economy he repealed it anyway and legislated a scheme that cost the tax payers a motza and had no hope in hell of working.

  5. Murdoch’s unabashed campaigning for the Liberals continues tomorrow

    [@sundayteleed: Inside the home life of @JoeHockey and his impressive wife. Tomorrow’s Sunday Tele #auspol]

  6. I am off for the night with the feeling that Abbott awoken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.

  7. [R_Chirgwin ‏@R_Chirgwin 27m
    I don’t understand: with an election supposedly in the bag, why do the LNP people foam like apocalyptic prophets in sandwich boards?

    Andrew Elder ‏@awelder Protected account 25m
    @R_Chirgwin They’re frightened. They are no longer the underdogs, and appear to have performance anxiety]

    That would explain the missteps of this week.

  8. Then Tony the PM spoke and he said “these were the pillars of my campaign, and they have come to pass and it is a miracle” and then he spoke again and he said “oh yes, don’t forget the PPL, because mothers should stay at home with the baby and fathers should go to work and have the affairs because that is the way gender rolls are and, like marriage, are eternally immutable”

  9. SeweRoo never sleeps does he.

    [The lawyer instrumental in exposing phone hacking at the News of World is now being pursued by Rupert Murdoch’s News International (NI) over the way he conducted a two year-long damages claim against the company, the High Court has heard.

    Mark Lewis, who has represented some of the most high profile victims of phone hacking, including the Dowler family and singer Charlotte Church, and is still involved in legal actions against Murdoch-owned titles, said outside the courtroom that NI is now engaging in a “pay back” exercise because of the way “substantial wrong-doing” inside the NOTW had been exposed.

    He accused NI of resorting to “bully boy tactics” after learning inside the courtroom that the UK division of the Murdoch empire is considering seeking “wasted costs” from his law firm, Taylor Hampton, over the way he handled the claim of Mary Ellen Field, the former business adviser to the Australian supermodel, Elle Macpherson.]

  10. TLBD

    ‘Boatbusters’. Love it.

    Policy No 1 Dial a boastbuster…
    Policy No 2 Dial a climate buster…
    Policy No 3 Dial a superannuantion nest egg buster…
    Policy No 4 Dial a jobsbuster…

  11. BC result today: Lions beat Dons.
    BC result in progress: Pies twice the score of the Cats.

    Message to the hubrists, as Abbott would say, shit happens.

  12. [Pies twice the score of the Cats.]

    Shit, I tipped the Cats. They were favourites!

    Message to the betting market hubrists: A fool and his/her money is soon parted.

  13. BBQ and footy-viewing evening at my place tonight. Have 6 friends over – two couples and two singles. Politics rarely comes up in our circle but the budget came up as one of them has a child with a moderate disability (NDIS etc).

    They all voted for Rudd Labor in 2007, 3 switched to Liberal in 2010, now all are voting Liberal this year.

    ‘Abbott is nuts/weird/embarrassing but I don’t trust Gillard, Swan fails to deliver and I’d prefer Rudd. Give Abbott a go’.

    The general gist summed up in one short evening.

    I asked them to explain why an Abbott government would be better – they couldn’t say why. Just that ‘Gillard doesn’t deserve it’.

    Policy and progress means zilch when people aren’t listening.

  14. If people take party leaders at face value then they really don’t deserve anything, that’s my view in the past 3 times of voting.

  15. Puffy 165
    [Abbott and Gillard
    Two very different people. The Cruel and The Compassionate.]
    Abbott may have softened his image but I don’t think I’d describe him as compassionate.

  16. Glory Conseqeunce 170
    [They all voted for Rudd Labor in 2007, 3 switched to Liberal in 2010, now all are voting Liberal this year.]
    But but …. Magoo Bob told us that the polls are rubbish…

  17. GC 170
    I think you may have told us before about another evening, with friends the same thing happened. Oh dear ALP is doomed

  18. Mari
    [Oh dear ALP is doomed]
    A bit of an overstatement. Politics in the West is fairly cyclical. I’m sure that Labor will bounce back in 2-3 terms once the memory of Gillard is erased, or maybe 4 terms which it took for Labor to recover from Keating.

  19. NDIS legislation in Parliament

    ”The people who’ve gathered here today from around the country to witness this debate know what this means,” she croaked.

    ”There’ll be no more ‘in principle’ and no more ‘when circumstances permit’. There’ll be launches, not trials; permanent care, not temporary help.

    ”DisabilityCare Australia starts in seven weeks, and there will be no turning back.”

    Those gathered did not include the opposition, where the green leather benches were shamefully empty. Yes, the Coalition and its leader support national disability insurance; but in an election year it would not do to be too enthusiastic about a Labor reform, apparently

    Read more:–when-she-drops-her-guard-20130517-2jrny.html#ixzz2TdufO3kG

  20. And something for those looking for the light on the hill … Abbott has now “blown out” to $1.05 on sportingbet, from $1.04 last week. Labor has “firmed” to $9.

  21. [I asked them to explain why an Abbott government would be better – they couldn’t say why. Just that ‘Gillard doesn’t deserve it’.]

    A whole 6 people, eh?

    And in breaking news, online polls have been declared to exhibit validity.


  22. And in further breaking news, Tom Waterhouse is poised to buy out Newspoll on grounds that his betting odds are more reliable than the Newspoll published results.

    You read it here first, folks.


  23. Mari
    [Appreciated your thoughtful comment]
    My comment was a bit tongue in cheek since this time round is gonna be pretty awful it seems for Labor. I’ll also be voting Lib emphatically this time after voting last 2 times for Labor (so that makes a sample of 7!) but really that is the cycle of democracy and I’ll be waiting some time in the future to kick out the Libs when they deserve it. Governments are generally voted out rather than in.

  24. Actually more than that.

    Tom Waterhouse, fresh from his stunning takeover of Newspoll is widely tipped (no pun intended) to be Newspoll’s chief statistical analyzer.

    Speaking from his mother’s stud farm, the newly minted psephologist noted the reliability of the betting market as against the return on published polling results, and urged news outlets to report Sportsbet rather than Galaxy when it came to federal politics.

    “Our punters intimately know and understand the market” said Waterhouse. “We have an exclusive Western Sydney clientele, so we understand what matters to those folk, and that relationship gives us unique insight to that critical battleground.”

    When asked about the validity of his betting, Waterhouse had this advice for his opponents. “We own the franchise, therefore we know the franchise.”

    More to come.

  25. Most Australians are dumb as bricks and have no idea what’s going on on any given day of the week.

    And they have to vote.

    Weep. There’s nothing left.

  26. This is an example of the compassion of a Liberal and the hypocrisy. The allegation of a slush fund is far more disgraceful that attacking dying people according to Bishop

    Lawyer Peter Gordon told Australian Doctor magazine in 2007: “We had to fight even for the right of dying cancer victims to get a speedy trial. I recall sitting in the WA Supreme Court in an interlocutory hearing for the test cases involving Wittenoom miners Mr Peter Heys and Mr Tim Barrow. CSR was represented by Ms Julie Bishop (then Julie Gillon). (She) was rhetorically asking the court why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying.”

    Bishop denies that entirely. “Absolutely not. At all times I acted on the instructions of the firm’s clients, CSR Limited and the state government insurance office. I acted professionally and ethically. I utterly reject Peter Gordon’s version,” she said. “It would be appalling for someone to draw some moral equivalence between my role in the Wittenoom case and establishing a union slush fund.”

    Robert Vojakovic of WA-based Asbestos Diseases Society says Bishop “had a take-no-prisoners approach”.

  27. Mick 77 186
    Just thought I would have a look at PB before closing down, I am in a state of shock at your declaration re voting LNP, I would never have guessed it from your previous comments, I always had you picked as a “die in the wool” ALP supporter 😀 night

  28. mari – good night, the weather was fantastic in Sydney today, you now, those totally clear blue skyes you only get in Australia. I guess my point is whatever may come, those clear blue skyes will still be there.

  29. Galaxy Poll – 15-16 May, 1006 voters

    Two Party Preferred: ALP 46 (0) L/NP 54 (0)
    Primary Votes: ALP 34 (+1) L/NP 46 (-1) GRN 10 (-2)
    Personal impact of #Budget: Better off 23 Worse off 46
    Removing the Baby Bonus: Support 64 Oppose 22

  30. Galaxy on Wednesday/Thursday before Abbott’s fiasco of a budget reply. Slight shift to 46/54 with LNP of 46 looking shaky.

    Shame if the front runner gets the staggers….

  31. sprocket_

    [Shame if the front runner gets the staggers]
    The staggers would be just right for the LNP. Symptoms of the staggers.

    [… staggers include:

    1.Trembling, unsteadiness and poor muscle co-ordination. In severe cases they will stagger and can fall over. Lack of control is often worst at the horse’s rear end.
    2.Erratic and anxious behaviour. The animal is spooked by events that normally wouldn’t provoke such a response

  32. Prof Cole looks at the way the 1% of the Rich in the USA have won almost all the new income raised over the last 40 years …while the rest of the people are stationary in their income comp tro 1970

  33. You know you are in bizaroland when a 46 is described as “shaky”!

    The LNP Primary vote has been mid to high 40s (even occasionally 50%) for about 2 years now…

    Proposing the motion, Tim Gallagher, a head teacher from Worcestershire, said: “Enough is enough. This motion is intending to send the strongest message possible to this government that many of their education policies are failing children, their parents and the very fabric of our school communities.”

    Labor should do the same – education is key policy…

  35. @Mod Lib/197

    It’s fascinating that Liberals always talk about numbers, especially about their own numbers….. Boast much?

  36. Whoever said they had been polled today said Neilsen didn’t they?

    That suggests we will have a Galaxy today, A Neilsen tomorrow, an Essential on Monday and a Newspoll and Morgan soon after…..if not other “one-off” polls.

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