UPDATE (23/7): The weekly Essential Research has Labor recover the point it lost last week to trail 56-44, from primary votes of 33% for Labor (up two), 49% for the Coalition (steady) and 10% for the Greens (steady). Further questions find 53% thinking it “likely” an Abbott government would introduce industrial relations laws similar to WorkChoices against 22% unlikely, and 37% thinking “Australian workers” would be worse off under Abbott against 32% better off. There is also a rather complex question on amendments to surveillance and intelligence-gathering laws.

UPDATE 2: Morgan face-to-face, conducted over the previous two weekends, has two-party preferred steady at 54-46 on previous-election preferences and down from 57.5-42.5 to 57-43 on respondent-allocated. On the primary vote, Labor is up 2% to 31.5% and the Greens down 2.5% to 12%, with the Coalition steady on 43%.

The inner southern Sydney electorate of Reid covers the southern bank of the Parramatta River from Drummoyne west to Silverwater, extending further south to Burwood, Strathfield, and Auburn. The seat has never been in conservative hands since its creation in 1922, but it became winnable for the Liberals after being transformed by the redistribution before the 2010 election. This caused it to assume about 70% of the voters from its abolished eastern neighbour, Lowe, retaining only the area to the west of Homebush Bay Drive and Centenary Drive, from Silverwater south to Rookwood. It was originally proposed that the redrawn electorate bear the new name of McMahon, in honour of Sir William, but objections to the loss of the name Reid (so named after George Reid, titan of the state’s late colonial free trade forces and the nation’s fourth prime minister) led to the name of McMahon instead being accommodated by renaming the outer western Sydney seat of Prospect.

Lowe was created in 1949 from areas covered by the since-abolished Martin and Parkes (the latter bearing no relation to the current rural electorate of that name), and had a very slight notional Labor margin on its creation. Billy McMahon nonetheless gained the seat for the Liberal Party in 1949 and held it until the end of his career in 1983, withstanding particularly strong Labor challenges in 1961 and 1980. Labor’s Michael Maher won the by-election that followed McMahon’s retirement, and the seat thereafter changed hands with some regularity. Bob Woods won it for the Liberals in 1987, but was weakened by redistribution and then tipped out by a swing to Labor’s Mary Easson in 1993. Paul Zammit regained the seat for the Liberals in the 1996 landslide, but quit the party in protest against the Howard government’s airport policy in 1998. John Murphy was able recover it for Labor in 1998, having won preselection over the rather better credentialled Michael Costello, secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Murphy held parliamentary secretary positions from December 2001 until he stood down citing family illness in February 2009, but is perhaps better remembered for complaining in parliament about the size of a serving of beef stroganoff his wife had received from the parliamentary cafeteria.

Reid in its original incarnation covered Bankstown, but it shifted northwards when Blaxland was created in 1949. A member of Jack Lang’s breakaway state ALP branch held the seat from 1931 to 1940, and Lang himself was member for one term after a surprise win under the ALP (Non-Communist) banner in 1946. Lang unsuccessfully contested Blaxland in 1949, and Reid was recovered by Charles Morgan, the previous member whom Lang had unseated. Morgan lost preselection at the 1958 election to Tom Uren, a future minister in the Whitlam and Hawke governments, who was in turn succeeded by Left potentate Laurie Ferguson in 1990. When the redistribution was announced in 2009 it was thought a preselection showdown loomed between Murphy and Ferguson, but it soon became apparent Ferguson’s eyes were set on Fowler to the west, and he was eventually accommodated in its southern neighbour Werriwa. Murphy meanwhile retained preselection for Reid unopposed, and went on to have his margin slashed from 10.8% to 2.7% at the 2010 election as part of a backlash against Labor throughout Sydney.

The Liberal candidate at the next election will be Craig Laundy, heir to and general manager of his father’s “$500 million hotel empire”, who won an April 2012 preselection with backing from Tony Abbott. Laundy’s main rival for the preselection was Dai Le, an ABC Radio National producer and two-time state candidate for Cabramatta.

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