Seat of the week: Watson

The inner suburban seat of Watson is on the long list of Sydney seats where Labor is considered in danger of a once unthinkable defeat – potentially cutting short the career of one of the government’s senior figures.

Watson covers inner suburban territory roughly 15 kilometres south-west of central Sydney, from Strathfield and Burwood Heights at the city end to Greenacre and Lakemba further afield. The electorate was called St George from its creation in 1949 until 1993, reflecting the unofficial name of the Hurstville, Rockdale and Kogarah area of Sydney which it formerly encompassed. Watson was drawn further away from its traditional base when the redistribution before the 2010 election abolished its northern neighbour Lowe, from which it absorbed southern Strathfield and Burwood Heights. It also gained Greenacre, Mount Lewis and part of Punchbowl to the west, which were formerly in Banks, while in the south it lost Earlwood and Kingsgrove to Barton and Hurstville to Banks. This left only the voters in the City of Canterbury, accounting for barely half the total, to carry over to the newly redrawn seat. The affected areas were a mixed bag electorally, the changes serving to reduce the Labor margin by 1.9%.

The electorate of St George was for much of its history a classically marginal middle suburban seat, frequently changing hands until Whitlam government minister Bill Morrison recovered it for Labor in 1980 after being unseated in 1975 (the unsuccessful candidate in the intervening 1977 election was Whitlam’s son Antony, who had served in the previous term as member for Grayndler). Morrison was succeeded in 1984 by Stephen Dubois, who retired when Watson was created in 1993 as part of a rearrangement that abolished St George and the Bondi-area electorate of Phillip. Labor accommodated Phillip MP Jeannette McHugh in Grayndler, while Right faction heavyweight Leo McLeay moved from Grayndler to Watson. Meanwhile, Labor’s grip tightened thanks to demographic change which has left Watson with the highest proportion of non-English speakers (72.8%) of any electorate in the country, most notably through the concentration of Lebanese at Lakemba and Chinese and Koreans at Campsie. However, the trend to Labor sharply reversed amid a Sydney-wide backlash at the 2010 election, which reduced Labor’s 18.2% margin by exactly half.

Watson has been held since McLeay’s retirement in 2004 by Tony Burke, who had entered politics the previous year as a member of the state upper house. McLeay had long hoped that his son Paul would assume the seat upon his retirement, but the strength of support for Burke within the Right compelled him to abandon the idea. Paul McLeay was instead accommodated in the state seat of Heathcote, which he held from 2003 until he joined the Labor casualty list at the 2011 state election. Burke meanwhile won swift promotion to the shadow ministry in 2005, going on to serve in cabinet as Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister in the Rudd-Gillard government’s first term and as Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities Minister (further gaining arts in March 2013) in its second. Burke has been a resolute supporter of Julia Gillard’s leadership, and spoke publicly of the “chaos” of Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership when he launched his unsuccessful challenged in February 2012.

The Liberals have preselected Ron Delezio, a businessman who came to national attention after his daughter Sophie received horrific injuries in separate accidents in 2003 and 2006. Delezio ran in Banks at the 2010 election, picking up an 8.9% swing against Labor’s Daryl Melham, and unsuccessfully sought preselection there again for the coming election.

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.

3,840 comments on “Seat of the week: Watson”

Comments Page 1 of 77
1 2 77
  1. Good morning, Dawn Patrol.


    Good news for Brendan Cowell’s play Happy New, with Joel Samuels as Lyle: REVIEW | Happy New at Trafalgar Studios

    [THE ROLE of theatre as a mode of social commentary is a concept that is often forgotten amidst the flashing lights and choreographed dance routines of the West End. It is an art-form that is designed to be provocative. A trip to the theatre should leave you considering the very nature of humanity, and the ties that bind us together as a society. Multi-award winning playwright Brendan Cowell’s Happy New poses the question in a slightly more esoteric manner: if human beings are like chickens, what is the pecking order?

    Cowell wrote Happy New around a decade ago in his second foray into the world of theatre. He told Australian Times that it was somewhat strange seeing it come to the stage in London so long after it had been written. He said that Happy New was less subtle than his more recent work, full of raw emotion and an undertone of restless aggression. He was right: Happy New is a brutally honest exploration of how humans operate in modern Australian society, and what happens when trauma makes us question whether ‘normal’ even exists.]

    I see Oz media (inc Fairfax & SBS) finally caught up with this OzTimes’ article, posted on PB on Wednesday 5th:

    [A PIECE of Western Australia’s remote East Kimberley region will be able to be seen from the top of the Eiffel Tower when an enormous artwork by an Aboriginal artist is unveiled on a Paris museum’s rooftop.

    The Musee du quai Branly has commissioned an artwork by 76-year-old Lena Nyadbi of the Warmun Community at Turkey Creek, called Dayiwul Lirlmim or Barramundi Scales, which spans almost 700 square metres.]

    D’y suppose Oz MSM might ever get around to Brendan Cowell’s London opening?

  2. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    This is all getting out of hand.
    There’s a stench to this!
    Yes, we all know what a class act Abbott is.
    Another reason I hate airports.
    What a racket this is. Throw the book at them!
    It stinks. That the notion of hot button words that inflame the ignorant can change a government says a lot about the polity in this country. Take note of the last paragraph.
    A heartwarming story on Dennis Napthine. There certainly is a strong sense of decency in the man.
    Alan Moir doesn’t think much of Labor’s electoral chances.

  3. BTW, also worth reading; this week’s OzTimes’ article (4 June), which I meant to post but forgot Australia signs international arms control treaty in New York

    [A United Nations treaty co-authored by Australia and designed to restrict the sale of illegal arms in the global marketplace has been signed by Junior Defence Minister Mike Kelly in New York City earlier this week.]

    Oz MSM coverage, what little there was, was drowned out by Newspoll & the Coalition’s immoderate ranting about Jihadist Terrorist Murderer; claims now (Guardian: 7 June); shown to be false – not that Abbott, Morrison, Julie Bishop & Co have had the decency to retract their false claims: qv Doubts about convictions of Egyptian asylum seeker at heart of political storm Court documents and lawyers suggest man whom Tony Abbott called a ‘jihadist terrorist’ was not convicted of murder

  4. ….. perusing the lord denning report from 1963, on the Profumo Affair.
    ….. after mr profumo’s Statement to the House, lord denning writes ….

    “I am sure that the Prime Minister and all the ministers were satisfied of the truth of that statement. They could not conceive that any of their colleagues would have the affrontery to make a false statement to the House. the business of the country could not be carried on if a member of the Government could not accept the word of another implicitly.


  5. Morning all. In the USA, nothing has changed in the overzealous abuse of Patriot Act powers since Bush has departed. Eric Holder is the new Alberto Gonzales when it comes to invading privacy. This story reveals the government is doing mass phone recording of all calls, even when no crime is suspected.
    [The US has admitted using a secret system to mine the systems of the biggest technology companies to spy on millions of people’s online activity, overshadowing attempts by Barack Obama to force China to abandon its cyber-espionage program.]

    Amazing. Twenty years on the cold war warriors are still playing games with peoples lives. Meanwhile they still cannot stop two young men blowing up Boston citizens despite Russian authorities contacting them about them years before. Incompetent and a law unto themselves. Militaru intelligence remains he same oxy moron as ever.

  6. [If you want to read of a real scum-bag politician then read this funny story from NY about one who lost(1) his pants.. then..(2) his seat in Congress…but who still hopes to be Mayor of NY

    only in America]

    Except we are about to elect Abbott – stupidity seems a lot more distributed than I thought.

  7. “We are about to elect Abbott”

    Really? Because the MSM keep saying so?

    I’m a bit disturbed by this – First, apart from a NEWSpoll right after Murdoch arrived in Australia the polls have been consistent at 55 – 45 with the MSM favouring Rabbott.

    Secondly, general conversations I hear when politics is mentioned indicate Rabbott is neither liked nor trusted, and

    Thirdly, there is growing admiration for Gillard, partly for achievements like NDIS, NBN, etc and partly for putting up with the incessant crap from the LNP “Adolescents” as an older lady described the LNP recently after watching a bit of QT.

    When you read the rubbish from ModLib, SeanTisme (which sounds like a sneeze), Cranky and the idiot rummel it is not hard to understand her attitude. The propaganda from the MSM is so obvious and they are starting to overdo it with the consequence of not being believed.

  8. Morning break that down, that’s $27,116.92 per month ($352,517 / 52 * 4).

    Tony Abbott also receives income from other sources, although it’s not clear exactly how much he receives in additional income.

    What is clear is that according to Tony Abbott’s Register of Pecuniary Interests, he also receives income from “casual journalism and media consulting” as well as royalties from his book Battlelines

  9. ‘Ignore the polls – the word in the streets is different!’

    That is dead-set exactly what Republicans were clinging to last year. And we all laughed. And rightly so.

  10. Morning all.


    Given he and his spruikers continually talk up his involvement in pollie pedal (for charity etc) you’d think the LOTO would donate his claimed income to the charity.

    As others have noted, he always makes sure he does a press conference every day of the pollie pedal to give some sort of legitimacy to his expenses claim, even though his press conferences never really announce anything of importance.

  11. [‘Ignore the polls – the word in the streets is different!’

    That is dead-set exactly what Republicans were clinging to last year. And we all laughed. And rightly so.]

    The polls are so strong and so consistent I’m not even sure we can reasonably expect a narrowing, we can pray for it of course, but I’m not sure there is any reason to expect such to occur. Tony is a lying policy free moron every day, how will him being that in an election campaign be any more repugnant than it is every day?

  12. [IN THE past week Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has twice been rolled by his party.

    In one instance it was a case of his own party colleagues stopping him from making a major mistake in committing to Labor’s hugely unpopular public funding increase of $60 million for the major political parties.
    It was a clearly a case of the party saving him from himself.

    But in the other case, Abbott has been rolled for arguably the wrong reason. And no one looks like emerging as a winner from it.

    Last week the Liberal Party announced it would stand a candidate in the safe Nationals seat of Mallee, an electorate that covers northwest Victoria, from Mildura in the north to Horsham down south.]
    Abbott rolled again. He apparently didn’t want the Liberals to run in Mallee.

    Tihs man clearly has no authority within his own party. He is no leader, that’s for sure.

  13. [‘Ignore the polls – the word in the streets is different!’]
    A whole street full of Labor Party spin doctors? Walk down other streets for a very different view.

  14. [Tihs man clearly has no authority within his own party. He is no leader, that’s for sure.]

    I think this is what give liberal fools comfort in voting for him. They assume someone sensible is pulling all the strings.

  15. When i say liberal fools I mean the very small nonrepresentative sample I’ve been talking to for four years, who honestly hoped that Turnbull would take over at some point after Abbott had destroyed Gillard.

    They now regretfully accept Abbott is the man, but don’t believe he’ll be making the decisions.

  16. One of the key members of my sample pool literally wanted a recession because he didn’t rely on income from a job, had plenty of wealth and passive income that would continue in a recession and thought a through recession would be a fantastic opportunity for him to substantially increase net wealth, predominantly at the expense of people with high mortgages who lost their jobs.

    Liberal voters – beautiful people.

  17. An interesting article about Abbott’s student days. I’m looking forward to seeing him take a swing at the Chinese and Indonesian leaders. If the latter intends to deny ‘turn back the boats’ he better keep his body guards close.

    I get the feeling that Abbott thinks he is divinely chosen to be PM. This will make the risk of a violent reaction even greater.

  18. [Having Rudd as leader in this election was essential to the Liberal psyche.

    The Liberals who survived the 2007 election mostly accepted the people’s decision, and began casting about for a post-Howard future. They thought Costello would lead them there and they were wrong. There was a hard core of people like Bronwyn Bishop who simply refused, Tea Party style, to accept that an actual majority of actual Australian voters elected a Labor government. They thought that Rudd had swindled them, and every time he backed down and watered down the positions with which he beat Howard he fed that perception. Nelson was their compromise candidate: nobody wanted Abbott after his performance at the election yet they were afraid Turnbull would rush them into some strange future of a republic, education, hi-tech and fine arts, of the sort that Keating had tried to foist onto Labor.

    Turnbull got up when Nelson could go on no longer and he assuaged the most basic fears of the organised Liberal Right, directed from beyond Canberra. When Turnbull failed too they put Abbott in, as they wanted all along because they could control him as he presented a face to the press gallery that it found appealing (and the public will swallow whatever the press gallery feeds them, apparently).

    Abbott needs to face Rudd and beat him. Only then can the Howard continuum be restored and maintained. That’s why Abbott looked crestfallen when Gillard trounced Rudd last year, and why the Liberals didn’t laugh when Rudd refused to challenge earlier this year (the key union bosses remained behind Gillard; had they shifted, they’d have told their people in caucus to vote for Rudd, and Rudd would now be PM. Rudd knew they hadn’t shifted and wasn’t obliged to commit political suicide).]

    Just as I’ve been saying all along.

  19. [They assume someone sensible is pulling all the strings.]

    Someone else is definately pulling the strings. He is a puppet in every sense of the word.

  20. “The polls are so strong and so consistent …..”

    At 55 – 45 within the MoE? For months?

    Despite the constant barrage of bullshit?

    Yeah, right.

  21. [“The polls are so strong and so consistent …..”

    At 55 – 45 within the MoE? For months?

    Despite the constant barrage of bullshit?

    Yeah, right.]

    Yeah right the polls have been inconsistent and varying wildly from a nice liberal landslide to utter labor destruction, silly me for thinking they were bad polls! Where do you get your drugs I’ll need some in September, you’ll need a triple supply.

  22. Tales of the lived experience of WA’s economy:

    [The owner of Edgewater IGA and long-time Independent Grocers Association president, Mr Cummings said he stopped accepting applications for a part-time retail assistant’s position advertised in a community newspaper when their number hit 140.

    Normally such a position would attract fewer than a dozen applicants and “it’s not unusual not to get a response”.

    “What it says to me is there are a heck of a lot of people who are employed on a casual basis who aren’t getting the hours they need to balance their family budgets,” Mr Cummings said.

    “They’ve had their hours lopped back and they are looking for extra money. We’re seeing a lot of housewives, a lot of young mothers who are looking for extra dollars to balance the family budget, they’re actively looking for work and they’re just not finding it.”]

  23. Given the dearth of interesting political news, here’s an historically interesting Aussie piece, again from – not exactly new, if you follow archaeology & history; but interesting: 1000 year-old coins found in Australia could rewrite history

    X marks the spot but could also help rewrite Australian history in the search for the origins of 1000 year-old coins found on an island off the north coast. Australian scientist Ian McIntosh is planning an expedition to explore the possibility seafarers landed in Australia much earlier than what is currently believed.

    and has a good chance of finding something; given what we know about Asian traders; what lands they considered their markets, and what we know about their navigational skills!

    [Australian soldier Maurie Isenberg was stationed on one of the islands to man a radar station and spent his spare time fishing on the idyllic beaches.

    While sitting in the sand with his fishing-rod, he discovered a handful of coins in the sand.

    He didn’t have a clue where they could come from but pocketed them anyway and later placed them in a tin.

    In 1979 he rediscovered his “treasure” and decided to send the coins to a museum to get them identified.

    The coins proved to be 1000 years old…

    Did explorers from distant lands arrive on Australian shores way before the James Cook declared it “terra nullius” and claimed it for the British throne in 1770?]

    Stay Tuned, as radio hosts used to say; but I suggest that Oz-MSM is the least likely media to be first to let you know!

  24. I heard on the television that over 30 MPs have asked Rudd to visit their electorate. And the PM just a farken liability. This is just wrong!

  25. Mr. Bowe and a few others here occasionally get on my case about “abusing the regulars” for their posts.
    I grew up in a situation of the most abject poverty in this nation many years ago…and the one thing poverty teaches you above ALL ELSE, is the ability to identify the bullshit artist….poverty attracts the most miserable aspirants who would shaft their own kin to make a buck or themselves LOOK like they had a buck!…and while I have forgotten most of the faces of those never forgets the echo of their way of framing their bullshit!

    I hear that same tone and method of delivery here with those “People” I get stuck into. They present themselves as intellectual or aspirational or even as “I’ve got there” success stories..when, actually, they are no more than the lowest-breed of conmen/women.

    While the leopard cannot change it’s spots, the conman cannot alter his language….they can be readily be spotted by their fatuous and presumtious big-mouthing!

  26. Well done Greg Combet! this isn’t greece where every Mp has a fleet of 50 cars. yeah that will do it a few thousand cars. I am all for buying Australian if it is better than or equal to product and comparable in cost..But their not fords are rubbish. the only decent one is the fully imported focus.

  27. “silly me for thinking they were bad polls! ”

    Perfectly expressed!

    BTW Get your own drugs – you have a self-expressed need for them.

  28. I used to wonder why such conmen would bother with the poor and needy..they have such little to steal….but as I grew older I realised that the upper echelons of our society are chockers with conmen ALL trying to milk the majority and that is why the hustlers try it on with the lower demographic populace…”You can’t hustle a hustler”!

  29. [I heard on the television that over 30 MPs have asked Rudd to visit their electorate. And the PM just a farken liability. This is just wrong!]

    there couldn’t be thirty I’ve been told here over and over again that Rudd is so bad there are only one or two evil insane traitors to the cause that can bear to be in the same hemisphere as him. Thirty impossible!

  30. I note with interest that the sooky, cowardly Mordor skulks in Australia while his minions take their medicine in the UK.

    Why Australia? He doesn’t have a ranch further away!

  31. [32 actually Paul]

    What about all those stories about how impossible Rudd is, and how much EVERYBODY hated him, don’t tell me they were lies or exaggerations please don’t say it.

  32. WWP

    Hmmm perhaps we can keep a list

    a couple over in Adelaide I recall

    26 to go

    I suspect the real number will be 72!!!!

  33. I wonder how Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson feel about Murdoch’s “support” while they are in Court nad he skulks as far away as possible?

    Rabbott, be warned!

  34. He’s over in western sydney next- how many seats are there? He might even go to the west- the Juia free zone, Not much point in Queensland as his seat will be the only one.
    Channel Today Show 9.30 news report by the way…it was showing the rock stars welcome in geelong and went on to say that his office has been inundated with calls wanting his help

  35. [joe carli
    Posted Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I used to wonder why such conmen would bother with the poor and needy..they have such little to steal….but as I grew older I realised that the upper echelons of our society are chockers with conmen ALL trying to milk the majority and that is why the hustlers try it on with the lower demographic populace…”You can’t hustle a hustler”!]

    Reading your last couple of posts, might I suggest that you socialise in wider circles to perhaps broaden your understanding of the political spectrum?

    Not everyone, indeed most people who vote for or tends to vote for the Coalition is a greedy, selfish, Mr Burns from The Simpsons type characters, rubbing their greedy hands together with glee. Similarly, most Labor voters are lazy, average freeloaders who expect the more capable to prop up their mediocrity.

    I, and most of my circle of friends, work in education. Yes, teachers as a profession tend to lean to the left; however, there’s plenty of us that don’t. Does this fit in with your stealing, milking the majority stereotype? Until about five years ago I had been a blue-collar worker my entire life.

    Just like Labor voters we may be involved in charity work, don’t like to see people suffer, and want what’s we believe is best for Australia. Most of the “battlers” I know, for I was, and continue to be, one of them, did far better under John Howard than under Keating. That’s just my perspective and interpretation. Yours may vary. Politics is not a battle of good versus evil. It’s two people seeing the same events and interpreting them and what to do about them slightly differently (because, for all the carping on, the difference on the Australian political spectrum is slight).

  36. Yes, they’ll do anything they can for Rabbott to avoid facing Gillard.

    One on one she’s got him and he knows it!

  37. [ muttleymcgee
    Posted Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    32 want Rudd.

    That would be the total of his loser supporters.

    Twice as many voted against him.]

    I would suggest that the remainder fear recrimination from Gillard and her supporters.

    I thought Rudd was dead and buried but it just beggars belief that Labor wouldn’t at least try to give them a chance at the coming election. Part of me wonders if they don’t intend to do just that. Stick with Gillard until a couple of weeks before the election and then restore Rudd so the vote can happen while everyone is still giddy with the euphoria of Gillard’s removal and haven’t had time to face the fact that it’s the same old Labor.

  38. centaur

    [Not much point in Queensland as his seat will be the only one.]

    And that in itself says something….surely if The Man has pulling power it would work best in his own state?

    Ask Kate Ashby how his involvement in her campaign worked out…

Comments Page 1 of 77
1 2 77

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *