Electorate analysis: The electorate of Campbelltown is in the south-western outskirts of Sydney, covering the built-up area on the east side of the Hume Highway from Ingleburn south to Campbelltown and undeveloped areas as far south as the Dharawal State Conservation Area. The seat was created in 1968 and held for its first term by the Liberals, and thereafter by Labor. Olympics Minister Michael Knight was the member from 1981 until his mid-term retirement in 2001. The preselection for the subsequent by-election was won by Graham West, a 27-year-old researcher in Knight’s ministerial office, who was elected with 59.0 per cent of the primary vote and no contest from the Liberals. A member of the Right faction, West served as a parliamentary secretary after the 2003 election and a minister from 2007 until June 2010, when he announced he would not be seeking another term.
West’s departure initiated a characteristically fraught Labor preselection, with early indications being that local councillor Anoulack Chanthivong was the front-runner. However, it was subsequently reported that head office was lobbying alternative candidates to take the field, which is rumoured to have been motivated by concern local voters will reject the Laotian-born Chanthivong because of his ethnicity. Former mayor Aaron Rule was named as one of those approached, but it was reported he “flatly refused” and remained firm in his support for Chanthivong. In the event the preselection process was referred to the party’s national executive which gave the nod to Nick Bleasdale, a local carpenter who stood unsuccessfully for the marginal federal seat of Macarthur in 2007 and 2010. Also in the mix was Meg Oates, a councillor and former mayor. The Macarthur Chronicle reported that former councillor Sam Mir was a strong chance owing to the backing of the apparently still powerful Right warlord Eddie Obeid, though his was not among the nominees for consideration by the national executive.
The Liberals have endorsed local police inspector Bryan Doyle, who won preselection without opposition.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.