New South Wales election 2015


Margin: Labor 7.2%
Region: Western Sydney
Federal: Chifley

Outgoing member: Barbara Perry (Labor)

Candidates in ballot paper order



No Land Tax

Liberal (bottom)

Christian Democratic Party


Labor (top)





Two-party preferred booth results from 2011 state election showing Labor majority in red and Liberal in blue. New boundaries in thicker blue lines, old ones in thinner red lines. Boundary data courtesy of Ben Raue of The Tally Room.

Auburn is one of most notable seats at the coming election in that it will be contested for Labor by Luke Foley, to facilitate his move from the upper house to the lower as part of his bid for the premiership. The electorate is centred around 10 kilometres due west of the city centre, extending from Homebush Bay south through Auburn and Lidcombe to Regents Park and Greenacre. The redistribution has reoriented it to the west, with a gain of 8400 voters in South Granville and the eastern Guildford from Granville. Two areas in the east have been transferred out of the electorate: Homebush and North Strathfield, home to 7200 voters who are now in Strathfield, and northern Greenacre further to the south, where 5500 voters go to Lakemba. The changes reduce the Labor margin from 8.5% to 7.2%.

Auburn was created as an electorate with the end of the seven-year proportional representation regime in 1927, and was won for Labor by Jack Lang, who was then leading his first Labor government to defeat. Lang led Labor back to power in 1930, then out of it again following his historic dismissal by Governor Phillip Game in 1932. He was eventually expelled from the ALP in 1942, but continued to hold Auburn for his own ALP (Non-Communist) Party until 1946. Following his move into federal politics in the seat of Reid in 1946, his state vacancy was filled at a by-election by his son, James Christian Lang. Labor finally recovered the seat in 1950, and have held it ever since.

The Labor incumbent presently making way for Foley is Barbara Perry, a Legal Aid lawyer and Auburn councillor of Lebanese descent. Parry retained the seat for Labor at a by-election in September 2001 and developed an association with the “Terrigals” sub-faction of the Right, whose figureheads included Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid. She served in cabinet during Labor’s final term in office and remained on the front bench in opposition, but faced a determined preselection challenge ahead of the coming election from former Auburn mayor Hicham Zraika, which prompted Perry to lodge a complaint with the party accusing him of branch stacking. During these proceedings a letter was circulated from 2001 in which Perry’s original bid for preselection was enthusiastically endorsed by Obeid.

Before the matter could come to a vote, Luke Foley came to the leadership in succession to John Robertson’s resignation in late December. Foley came to the upper house in June 2010, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Ian Macdonald, after establishing himself as a secretary of the Australian Services Union, assistant general secretary of the ALP, and general figurehead in the Left. He was one of three contenders immediately discussed as potential successors to Robertson in December, together with Right faction members Steve Whan and Michael Daley. Whan and Daley progressively withdrew as Foley obtained decisive support from head office, including from the party’s general secretary Jamie Clements, a leading figure in the Right.

During Foley’s ascent to the leadership, it was widely understood that Auburn would be his favoured entry point to the lower house, notwithstanding of the unresolved state of the preselection there. Perry at first resisted demands to make way, but in the event neither she nor Zraika proceeded with their nominations.

Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.

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