The Poll Bludger
Margin: Labor 11.2%
Region: Western Sydney, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Even after its participation in the big shift across Sydney over the past two elections, Ed Husic retains his western suburbs seat of Chifley on a double-digit margin.
Candidates in ballot paper order
Held for Labor by Ed Husic on a secure post-redistribution margin of 11.1%, Chifley covers a stretch of Sydney’s western suburbs to the north of the Great Western Highway, from Blacktown and Mount Druitt through Plumpton and Glendinning to semi-rural Marsden Park in the north. The only substantive change in the redistribution has been the transfer of areas at the southern end to Greenway (a part of Blacktown) and McMahon (the suburb of Minchinbury). Both changes affect around 3500 voters, and their combined effect is to add 0.6% to the Labor margin.
Chifley was created at the 1969 election and has since covered a shifting area around Blacktown in the south-east, Mount Druitt in the south-west and Riverstone in the north, with the latter accommodated by Greenway since its creation in 1984. Labor had a notional margin of just 0.2% on its creation at the 1969 election, but it immediately swung to Labor by 16.6% and has been extremely safe ever since. The seat has had four members in its 47-year history, Husic’s predecessors having been John Armitage (1969 to 1983), Russ Gorman (1983 to 1984, when he transferred to Greenway, which he held until 1996) and Roger Price (1984 to 2010).
Ed Husic was national president of the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union before entering parliament, and had earlier been a staffer to Roger Price in the early 1990s. His first run for parliament was in the neighbouring seat of Greenway at the 2004 election, but this proved a disappointing failure, with a 3.7% swing delivering an unexpected victory to Liberal candidate Louise Markus. There were suggestions at the time of an underhanded campaign against Husic capitalising on his Muslim heritage, which were later given substance when a bogus pamphlet from the campaign was published in a parliamentary committee report into the 2007 Lindsay pamphlet scandal.
After Roger Price announced his retiremnet ahead of the 2010 election, Husic was installed as Labor’s candidate by the party’s national executive, with the backing of the Right. An earlier deal within the Right had earmarked him for Fowler, which was to be made vacant by the retirement of Julia Irwin, but this was thwarted when Julia Gillard, then the Deputy Prime Minister, insisted that a home be found for her factional ally Laurie Ferguson after the effective abolition of his seat of Reid. This resulted in Chris Hayes moving from Werriwa to Fowler, and Laurie Ferguson being accommodated in Werriwa.
Husic supported Kevin Rudd through his campaign to return to the leadership in 2012 and 2013, and won promotion to Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Broadband when Rudd finally toppled Gillard in June 2013. This made him the first Muslim to serve on the federal government front bench, and he also became the first to take his oath on the Koran, despite describing himself as a non-practising Muslim. Husic has maintained shadow parliamentary secretary rank since the 2013 election defeat.
Brodtmann’s opponents for the coming election include Liberal candidate Jessica Adelan-Langford, a local lawyer, and urban planner Patricia Cahill for the Greens.
Analysis by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.