Margin: Labor 20.7%
Location: Outer Western Sydney, New South Wales
Outgoing member: Roger Price (Labor)
In a nutshell: Roger Price is bowing out at the election after 26 years as member for this safe Labor western Sydney seat, to be succeeded as Labor candidate by Ed Husic, who suffered a disappointing failure as candidate for Greenway in 2004.
Electorate analysis: Chifley covers a stretch of Sydney’s western suburbs to the north of the Western Motorway, from Blacktown and Woodcroft through Plumpton and Glendinning to Marsden Park in the north. The northern part of the electorate has been gained with the redistribution, adding 7500 voters from Greenway, along with a small strip in the south between the Great Western Highway and Western Motorway, which adds 3300 from Prospect (which has been renamed McMahon). An area around South Wentworthville in the east, accounting for 5400 voters, has been transferred to Parramatta. The changes have added 0.4 per cent to the ample Labor margin. Chifley had a notional Labor margin of just 0.2 per cent when it was created in 1969, but it immediately swung to Labor by 16.6 per cent and has been extremely safe ever since. Roger Price came to the seat in 1984, and while noted as a factional operator did not rise higher than chief whip and a short-lived parliamentary secretary position in the early 1990s. Price announced he would not contest the election in March 2010.
Labor’s new candidate is Ed Husic, national president of the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union and staffer for Roger Price in the early 1990s. Husic first attempted to enter parliament in Greenway at the 2004 election, which met with disappointing failure. There were suggestions at the time of an underhanded campaign against Husic capitalising on his Muslim heritage, which received substance when a bogus pamphlet was published in a parliamentary committee report into the 2007 Lindsay pamphlet scandal. Husic was installed as candidate in Chifley by the party’s national executive with the backing of the Right. An original deal within the Right earmarked Husic for Fowler, being vacated by the retirement of Julia Irwin. However, this was thwarted by then deputy leader Julia Gillard’s insistence that a home be found for factional ally Laurie Ferguson, whose seat of Reid had been abolished. It was also suggested at the time Price announced his retirement that Lindsay MP David Bradbury might seek the seat as a safer haven.
Shortly before the closure of nominations the Liberals were forced to disendorse their candidate David Barker, whose preselection marked an embarrassing failure for the party’s candidate-vetting procedures. Astoundingly, given the party’s past form against Husic, Barker wrote on his Facebook page that Labor would bring Australia “closer to the hands of a Muslim country”. He was promptly replaced by grocery store owner Venus Priest.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.