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Seat of the week: Parramatta

The electorate of Parramatta has existed without interruption since federation, shrinking over time from Sydney’s broad north-western outskirts into the immediate area of the town its

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The electorate of Parramatta has existed without interruption since federation, shrinking over time from Sydney’s broad north-western outskirts into the immediate area of the town itself. It presently extends from the Parramatta town centre southwards to Granville, westwards to Wentworthville, northwards to Carlingford and eastwards to Rydalmere. This area is distinguished by a high level of ethnic diversity, being home to particularly large Chinese, Indian and Lebanese communities.

Parramatta was once a conservative stronghold, having only been won for Labor prior to 1977 with the election of Jim Scullin’s government in 1929. Notable members included Joseph Cook, who held the seat for its first 20 years and served as Liberal prime minister from June 1913 to September 1914; Sir Garfield Barwick, member from 1958 to 1964, who served as External Affairs Minister and Attorney-General in the Menzies government before going on to an immensely controversial tenure as Chief Justice of the High Court; and Philip Ruddock, who began his parliamentary career after winning the seat at a by-election in September 1973, adding 7.0% to what had been an extremely narrow margin in 1972.

The watershed in the seat’s history came with a redistribution in 1977 that effectively changed the existing seat’s name to Dundas, of which Philip Ruddock became the inaugural member, while creating a new seat of Parramatta that extended deep into Sydney’s Labor-voting west. The newly safe Labor seat was won by John Brown, the Hawke government Tourism Minister remembered for his dislike of koalas and inappropriate use of his ministerial desk. Brown resigned as minister in 1987 after admitting (which he would later retract) that he had misled parliament, and he was succeeded in Parramatta by Paul Elliott in 1990.

Redistributions in 1984 and 1993 returned the seat to the marginal column by pulling it back to the east, reducing the margin to 1.0% ahead of the 1993 election. Elliott was able to increase his margin on that occasion, but he was unseated by a 7.1% swing in 1996. Incoming Liberal member Ross Cameron held out against a relatively mild swing of 1.1% in 1998, and further survived a highly unfavourable redistribution that pushed the electorate southwards in 2001 by picking up a swing of 3.6%. Shortly before the 2004 election he felt compelled to tell Fairfax’s Good Weekend magazine that he had committed numerous infidelities throughout his married life, and he emerged from the election as one of only three Coalition members to have lost their seat.

Labor’s new member was Julie Owens, classically trained pianist, former chief executive of the Association of Independent Record Labels and member of the Left faction. Owens faced an early challenge when another substantial distribution ahead of the 2007 election pushed the seat back to the north, but she easily accounted for the notional Liberal margin of 0.8% with a 7.7% swing consistent with the western Sydney trend. The redistribution pendulum swung heavily the other way when the seat absorbed the northern half of its abolished southern neighbour Reid ahead of the 2010 election, boosting the margin to 9.5%. There were suggestions this might result in Owens contesting Greenway, which took over the western end of the old Parramatta around Pendle Hill and Kings Langley, with Parramatta going to Owens’ factional mentor, Reid MP Laurie Ferguson. However, Ferguson was instead accommodated in Werriwa and Owens stayed put, surviving a 5.5% swing that reduced her margin to 4.4%.

The Liberals have preselected Martin Zaiter, a 29-year-old partner in a local accountancy firm, who was chosen ahead of a field that included the unsuccessful candidate from 2010, engineer Charles Camenzuli. There has been ongoing speculation over the years that Ross Cameron might seek a return to politics, but invariably in relation to other seats.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.

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1948 comments

1,948 thoughts on “Seat of the week: Parramatta

  1. [fiona
    Posted Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Wot’s the MILF ever done for us?]

    What has milfs ever done for us?

    I don’t understand.

  2. Polls seem so counter intuitive to me. Been the worst month for Abbott since he took over IMHO, so he’ll probably get a bounce his way!

    Hoping for 52-48 or better. If it is, the unhinging will spiral sooooooo far out of control.

  3. Looks like I am going to stick around for that.

    How about the parents get done for child abuse? That poor kid is going to have that image haunt him or her for the next 70 or so years. Well done, dimwits.

  4. If I have it right, we may have had to defend Malayasia against a Philippines invasion under the Five Powers arrangement. It would have depended on how we interpreted the history of Sabah/North Borneo.

    If our guide on Corregidor was correct, most of the two hundred muslim solders who were being trained in secret on Corregidor were murdered (I seem to recall some time during the 1960’s) when it became plain that they were going to refuse to invade islamic Sabah at the behest of the catholic government of the Philippines.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Borneo_dispute

  5. Rossmore, fair point. But if we had laws against incitement to violence based on religion who do you think would be in the clink after this weekend … People advocating decapitation based on religious insult perhaps?

    Genuine question. what would we say if jensen and friends had paraded their anti gay prejudices with similar advocacy of (and physical instances of) violence …

  6. Whenever I’ve seen Bramston say something is a cracker, it tends to be good for Labor. When PvO says it’s a cracker, it’s usually good for the Liberals

  7. Dio
    They should be done for child abuse too, as well the parents of that USA presechool aged “preacher: from a few months back.

    Leave the kids at home, playing with their blocks.

  8. Rossmore,

    [ when normally sane people start having a go at Muslims (or Christians or Jews) because of the actions of one silly parent I get VERY BLOODY CROSS. This is a big call, but I reckon it’s racist and has no place in a modern, secular, democratic society. ]

    I couldn’t give a stuff if you smash your head against the wall. There’s no way you can excuse this.

    There is no excuse for “ANY” parent allowing their child to carry such a placard. The criticism is directed at the parent, not the religion although that is the origin of the highly over the top response to the issue.

  9. MM happy to see the stupid parent hauled before the courts, but leave the rest of the law abiding Muslim community alone. They have nothing to apologise for and to say otherwise is pathetic nonsense.

  10. I reckon Nielsen might have switched to a fortnightly poll. Since Stuchbury became the AFR editor, they’ve been reporting Nielsen like The Australian reports Newspoll. I reckon he’s convinced Fairfax to pay for a fortnightly poll. I guess we’ll wait and see

  11. Seasprite,

    There was a bit of conversation on the last page about the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) in the Philippines – specifically about their reaction to the stupid anti-Islamic vid that was one of the “causes” of yesterday’s protest/riot in Sydney (and elsewhere).

    My little effort was just a bit of Sunday evening silliness, a poor attempt at a parody along the lines of The Life of Brian but substituting the MILF for The Romans …

  12. [Rossmore, fair point. But if we had laws against incitement to violence based on religion who do you think would be in the clink after this weekend … People advocating decapitation based on religious insult perhaps?

    Genuine question. what would we say if jensen and friends had paraded their anti gay prejudices with similar advocacy of (and physical instances of) violence …]

    I think there are two different issues.

    Firstly if either Muslim or Christians breach incitement of hatred or violence laws, then equally to the clink with them. I’m of a fairly hard line variety that would be very happy to seem the parents of that child in jail for 12 months, along with those who’ve threatened the PM. Obviously using broadcast means to call for the death of the PM is more serious and perhaps 5 years for them.

    Secondly to suggest that other muslims or broadcasters who haven’t called on violence against people have some duty to come out and say so it absurd, disgusting and wrong in so many ways.

  13. [Well, it’s up to the rest of the Muslim community to demonstrate this is so. Let’s have a demo by Muslims for Freedom of Speech and Religion.]

    I don’t have to explain anything to anyone just because a bunch of idiots behave appallingly. Give me a break!!!

  14. [Do Christians who don’t fire bomb abortion clinics need to get out there and protest for abortion or face the wrath of Psephos?]

    [I still remember standing on the mound in York where the Christian townsfolk burned all the local Jews to death. That was of course in the C3th]

    Why does every comment about the global spread of Islamic fascism produce nothing but a string of feeble and misleading false analogies, seeking to argue that “the west is just as bad so we can’t criticise?” Christian extremism is a fringe phenomenon, even in the US. Violent hatred and intolerance is being actively promoted all through the Muslim world by both Saudi Arabia and Iran. There is no analogy at all with a few cranks in the US. Nor is ancient Christian anti-Semitism in any way relevant. I spit on this moral relativism and cowardice in the face of such a fundemental threat to our freedom.

  15. Puff,

    [Leave the kids at home, playing with their blocks.]

    Definitely. And send me back to my mohair and silk fascinations, and ban me from trying my hand at comedy of any sort.

  16. Good Evening

    News 24 just reported that the Firey’s in Qld have threatened to let Government buildings burn down as a protest. If that does happen public opinion will change radically.
    Newman drowned out by protesters.
    Yes I think this anger will be remembered at the ballot box next State election.
    It is the first time I have heard of Firey’s being angry enough to threaten letting buildings burn.

  17. Scorpio I am not excusing it for one moment. I abhor the use of children for such purposes. But it’s a big leap to then say the Muslim community are somehow implicated. I have no doubt countless 1000s of good Australian Muslims are outraged by this parents actions. But it’s ridiculous to assert they have some kind of obligation to apologise for this parent’s behavior.

  18. [Why does every comment about the global spread of Islamic fascism produce nothing but]

    Because some of us don’t want to encourage Islamic fascism by showing the moderate members of the faith (of which there are quite a few if you hadn’t noticed through your intolerance and hate) that the extreme fanatics are 100% right when they say that the west detests them, hates their religion and will wipe them off the face of the earth if they don’t take up arms and fight.

    [I spit on this moral relativism and cowardice in the face of such a fundemental threat to our freedom.]

    Yeah you are certainly brave … stupid as a post but brave.

  19. Rossmore # 1913, not saying anything different to you on that. As we say in multicultural Marrickville and surrounds, may the spirit of cricket be with you.

  20. WWP

    [Yeah you are certainly brave … stupid as a post but brave.]

    I’m not sure that Psephos wetting his pants every time a Muslim protests and wailing for the western world to bomb the Middle East into oblivion so he can sleep at night is all that brave.

  21. Psephos, I didnt expect that from you. I was making a point about people in the C21st behaving in a medieval way. I though tyou might get that given the (typo ridden) dating of the reference??

  22. Wow that is an extraordinary newspoll.

    For the first time we will now the blow torch really on Abbott’s leadership.
    Let’s see how he fares. I’m thinking it won’t be pretty.

    Let the unhingement commence!

  23. Psephos …. So what would you have the dozens of entirely decent and law abiding Muslims I work with do at work tomorrow regarding the child carrying the “beheading” sign.

    Precisely what?

  24. Diogenes – if those are the results (which looks like a possible overshoot but still really good) ALP MPs & staffers will dancing in the Canberra Streets.

  25. [I’m not sure that Psephos wetting his pants every time a Muslim protests and wailing for the western world to bomb the Middle East into oblivion so he can sleep at night is all that brave.]

    Excellent point, so fear driven bravado more than actual bravery.

    I kind of agreed, or felt at one with Adam (it wasn’t an intellectual thing), after 9-11, I was expecting wave after wave of attack (after all they are all inhuman purveyors of evil) and there was no way that they wouldn’t do it again and again until cities were destroyed and the international flight system rendered in operate. But turns out there weren’t that many of them, they weren’t that good, and most of them aren’t that evil.

  26. Rossmore,

    [ But it’s a big leap to then say the Muslim community are somehow implicated. ]

    That’s just the point. Who here has been implying that?