Welcome to episode six of Seat du jour, an opportunity for you to read about and (hopefully) discuss the individual contests that will determine the May 18 election. Earlier instalments covered Bass, Pearce, Lindsay, Gilmore, Dickson and La Trobe. Today’s subject is the inner west Sydney seat of Reid, for which the entry in the Poll Bludger election guide can be found here.
Reid has been a scene of significant success for the Liberals at the last two elections – first when Craig Laundy became the first Liberal member in the seat’s long history in 2013, then when Laundy picked up a further swing of 1.4% against the trend in 2016. The Liberals were further strengthened in between when the Lebanese community hub of Auburn was transferred out of the electorate, adding 2.4% to the Liberal margin. The seat is now being vacated with the retirement of Laundy, a noted ally of Malcolm Turnbull, who resigned from his junior ministry position after Turnbull was dumped in August. The seat will now be contested for the Liberals by prominent child psychologist Fiona Martin, and for Labor by Sam Crosby, executive director of Labor think tank the McKell Institute.
Reid’s record as a Labor stronghold going back to its creation in 1922 is complicated by the fact that it was essentially merged in 2010 with the abolished seat of Lowe, which covered the more Liberal-leaning eastern end of the electorate. Lowe was held for the Liberals by Billy McMahon from 1949 to 1982, on sometimes precarious margins, and changed hands regularly after his departure, in 1982, 1987, 1993, 1996 and 1998. Labor then gained the ascendancy, and the redrawn Reid that emerged from Lowe’s abolition had a seemingly secure notional Labor margin of 10.8% going into the 2010 election. However, it then recorded an 8.1% amid a city-wide backlash against Labor, followed by a decisive swing of 3.5% in 2013.
The retirement of Craig Laundy and the popularity of Malcolm Turnbull in inner urban areas make Reid a particularly challenging from the Liberals. In a report by Andrew Clennell in The Australian today, Reid is identified as one of two New South Wales seats the Liberals “fear losing”, together with Gilmore, which they hoped might be redressed with the gain of Lindsay and recovery of Wentworth.