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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

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.

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1948 comments

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Dan Gulberry
Guest

[Trollin’ Dan ‏@Dan_Gulberry

Any boss who sacks a worker tomorrow for not turning up because they’re celebrating the latest #newspoll result is a bum #auspol ]

Oakeshott Country
Guest

Newspoll must be an outlier – not much has changed in the last 2 weeks

scorpio
Guest

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?

WeWantPaul
Guest
[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… Read more »
James J
Guest

Gillard: satisfied 36, dissatisfied 52
Abbott: satisfied 30, dissatisfied 60

Leroy Lynch
Guest

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.

Rossmore
Guest

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?

Harry "Snapper" Organs
Guest
Harry "Snapper" Organs

whoo hoo. This is very good.

victoria
Guest

Thanks James J

And thank you Campbell Newman!!!

Henry
Guest

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!

Paddy O
Guest

nice one william, can we have these pictures in the MSM

Diogenes
Guest

Time to put some money on Turnbull. 😀

[50-50 2PP

Primaries: Coalition 41, ALP 36, Greens 12

Better PM: Gillard 46, Abbott 32]

Marrickville Mauler
Guest

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??

guytaur
Guest

An increase in the ALP primary vote. Very welcome even if in MOE.

Boerwar
Guest

I see that there has been an ideological convergence between the capitalists of the Great Satan and the pro-western Muslims of Benghazi.

Diogenes
Guest

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.

Laocoon
Guest

Hoo-ha!

Leroy Lynch
Guest

For real???

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