Margin: Labor 1.9%
Region: South-Western Sydney
Federal: Fowler (90%)/McMahon (10%)
Candidates in ballot paper order
2011 BOOTH RESULTS MAP
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.
Noted as a centre for Sydney’s Vietnamese community, Cabramatta is located 25 kilometres to the west of central Sydney, from which the electorate extends westwards through Mount Pritchard, St Johns Park and Bonnyrigg to Greenfield Park and Edensor Park, and for a shorter distance eastwards to Lansvale. Labor has held the seat without interruption since its creation in 1981, and it was one of only 20 seats the party retained amid the debacle of 2011, when present incumbent Nick Lalich retained a 2.1% in the face of a massive 26.9% swing. The latest redistribution has cut territory in the north, sending 13,5000 voters in Wakeley, Canley Heights and part of Canley Vale to Fairfield, and added it in the west, where it gains 10,000 voters in Greenfield Park and Edensor Park from Smithfield and 5000 in Bonnyrigg Heights from Liverpool. The changes have cut the Labor margin by 0.2%.
The Cabramatta electorate will forever be associated with one of the darkest chapters in Australian political history, the murder of Labor member John Newman on 5 September 1994. After two mistrials, Fairfield councillor Phuong Ngo was convicted in 2001 of organising the murder, while two alleged co-conspirators were acquitted. Newman and Ngo had developed a bitter rivalry due to Newman’s conviction that Ngo was involved with a Vietnamese crime gang, Ngo having emerged as a figure of influence in the ALP only after running against Newman as an independent in 1991 and directing preferences to the Liberals.
The prosecution case was that Ngo arranged the murder because he had undertaken not to seek preselection for Cabramatta while Newman remained the member, and Newman’s determination to contest the 1995 election had made him impatient. However, it appears to be very widely accepted among local insiders that Ngo in fact had his heart set on a seat in the upper house, and was supportive when head office sought to have Newman’s vacancy filled by 27-year-old Reba Meagher, who duly won the subsequent by-election. Ngo’s involvement in the murder remained the stuff of rumour until four years later, when a witness came forward at the inquest into Newman’s murder with a claim that Ngo had asked him to kill Newman, and boasted of his involvement on the night of the killing. Ngo was subsequently arrested and ultimately sentenced to life imprisonment.
Meagher went on to serve in the Carr/Iemma ministry from 2003 to September 2008, when she was was one of five ministers designated for the chop under a proposed reshuffle that prompted Morris Iemma’s Right faction to pull the plug on his leadership. However, Iemma’s demise didn’t save her, and she declined to nominate for a position in Nathan Rees’s new cabinet when it became clear she would not succeed. A week later she announced she was joining a mini-exodus from parliament that resulted in four concurrent by-elections on October 18.
Labor preselected Nick Lalich, who had been mayor of Fairfield since the position became popularly elected in 2006. Lalich is of Serbian heritage but was born in Egypt, his parents having escaped the German occuption during World War II. He retained the seat at the by-election in the face of a 21.8% swing, similar to that which cost Labor the seat of Ryde on the same day, but much higher than that against Robert Furolo who retained the seat of Lakemba. There was a further 5.1% swing on top of that at the election in March 2011, reducing the margin to 2.1%.
Corrections, complaints and feedback to William Bowe at pollbludger-at-bigpond-dot-com. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.