There’ll be a follow up to one of our
favourite stories from last year’s federal election campaign at the Sydney
Institute tonight – the story of the seat of Greenway. This is what we said back in July 2004:
Greenway has been in existence since 1984, and both its MPs have been absolute
non-entities. First there was Russ Gorman…he was succeeded in 1996 by Frank Mossfield, who is so low profile that naming
him gets triple word score at political Scrabble.
Greenway is a seat that has never had a sitting MP factor. The seat has been
basically unchanged since 1984, and its margin has more or less mirrored the
Labor statewide vote. The Labor state vote goes down by X per cent and so does
the Labor vote in Greenway.
In 1996 and 2001, when Labor was whacked in Sydney, Greenway
became marginal. It has performed slightly worse than the state average at a
couple of recent elections. But past trends indicate that Labor would have to
do even worse in Sydney in 2004 for the Liberal Party to have a serious chance of winning
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
The 6.4 per cent swing the Libs received last time is unlikely to be repeated,
and Labor has a better candidate this time in Right-wing former Young Labor
executive member Ed Husic.
He grew up in the area, is educated and personable. He’s had the thankless job
of working as a flak for Integral Energy in recent years, which means he has to
appear every time there is a blackout, but Labor hacks say he is a reasonable
candidate prepared to do a bit of hard work, that he’s different to the duds
that have preceded him.
There was one other difference. Husic is a
non-practising Muslim, an Australian whose parents came from Bosnia.
His Liberal opponent was Louise Markus, a
social worker from the nearby Hillsong church.
We noted how religion had suddenly become
an issue in Greenway, how media reports suddenly began to describe the seat as
a key target for the Libs in NSW – and how the “M” word suddenly began to
appear in stories on the electorate.
“Did the Liberals deliberately preselect
Markus to make religion an issue,” we asked. “After all, once the subject was
raised with her, Husic became fair game.”
During the campaign, a leaflet disguised as
an official ALP brochure appeared that read “Ed Husic is a devout Muslim. Ed is
working hard to get a better deal for Islam in Greenway.”
We all know who the current member is. Husic
has ended up as chief of staff to the NSW Regional Development Minister, David
Campbell, but tonight he will be asking if, in the current climate, a Muslim can
win a seat in an Australian election.
More information on tonight’s function is