The Poll Bludger
Margin: Liberal 4.2%
Region: Western Sydney, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Reid was won by the Liberals in 2013 for the first time since its creation in 1922, although the abolition of neighbouring Lowe in 2010 means it’s not the seat it used to be.
Candidates in ballot paper order
Together with Banks further to the south, Reid was one of two seats in Sydney that were won by the Liberals for the first time at the 2013 election. It is the second most ethnically diverse Coalition-held seat in the country after Barton, another southern Sydney seat gained by the Liberals in 2013. The electorate is centred on its current boundaries around Homebush, 15 kilometres to the west of central Sydney, and encompasses the southern bank of the Parramatta River from Drummoyne west to Silverwater, and territory south of the Western Motorway from Croydon through Burwood and Strathfield to Lidcombe. The tenuous grip the Liberals gained on the seat in 2013 has been strengthened by the redistribution, which transfers 19,000 voters in the Lebanese community hub of Auburn at the western end of the electorate to Blaxland, together with 3000 in southern Lidcombe to Watson. The compensating gains consist of largely marginal territory in the south: 13,000 voters around southern Strathfield and Burwood from Watson, and 3000 in a small area of Croydon and Ashfield from Grayndler. The notional Liberal margin is now 4.2%, compared with 0.9% at the election.
The Liberals’ unprecedented victory in 2013 largely reflected the electorate’s dramatic reconfiguration in the redistribution before the 2010 election, which caused it to assume about 70% of the voters from its abolished eastern neighbour Lowe, and retain only the area from Silverwater south to Rookwood. Reid was centred on Bankstown in its original form after its creation in 1922, from which it extended to the western end of the current electorate, with the eastern end covered by a shifting array of since-abolished electorates. It was pushed still further to the west when parliament was enlarged in 1949, extending from Bankstown north to Granville and retaining none of its current territory. The redistribution at the 1969 election pushed Blaxland to the south, and the area was thereafter divided between Reid in the west and Lowe in the east.
Lowe was held for the Liberals from 1949 to 1982 on sometimes precarious margins by Billy McMahon, the Prime Minister from March 1971 to December 1972. Labor’s Michael Maher won the seat at the by-election held in March 1992 after McMahon’s retirement, and it thereafter changed hands in 1987, 1993, 1996 and 1998. Reid was held for Labor from 1958 to 1990 by Tom Uren, a minister in the Whitlam and Hawke governments, and thereafter by Left faction potentate Laurie Ferguson. The effective merger of Reid and Lowe at the 2010 election resulted in Ferguson moving to the south-western Sydney seat of Werriwa, while Reid went to John Murphy, who had held Lowe for Labor since 1998. The backlash against Labor in Sydney at the 2010 election reduced Murphy’s notional margin of 10.8% to 2.7%, which was followed in 2013 by a second decisive swing of 3.5%.
Reid has since been held for the Liberals by Craig Laundy, heir to and former general manager of his father Arthur Laundy’s Laundy Hotels group, which in 2013 was estimated in value at $500 million. Reflecting the sensitivities of his electorate, Laundy broke ranks with the Abbott government over its proposed weakening of racial discrimination laws in early 2014. He won promotion to parliamentary secretary rank in February 2016, taking on the position of Assistant Multicultural Affairs Minister. Labor’s candidate is Angelo Tsirekas, who since 2004 has been the popularly elected mayor Canada Bay, encompassing the areas eastwards of Homebush and north of the Western Motorway. Tsirekas ran in the corresponding state seat of Drummoyne at the 2011 election, but was heavily defeated amid a disastrous result for Labor across the state.
A few days before the election was called, Mark Riley of Seven News reported that polling conducted for Liberal sources on April 29 showed an effective two-party tie in Reid, with Craig Laundy leading 50.3-49.7.
Analysis by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.