Margin: Labor 5.8%*
Location: Western Sydney, New South Wales
Outgoing member: Louise Markus (Liberal)
* Liberal seat made notionally Labor by redistribution
In a nutshell: The western suburbs seat of Greenway was a shock win for Liberal candidate Louise Markus when the previous member, Frank Mossfield, retired in 2004. The latest redistribution has made the seat almost unrecognisable, producing a solid notional Labor margin and prompting Markus to seek refuge in Macquarie.
Electorate analysis: For the second time in as many election, the western Sydney seat of Greenway has been changed almost beyond recognition by redistributions, a result of knock-on effects from the abolition of Reid which have drawn Parramatta into the north of the old Reid and Greenway into the west of the old Parramatta. This has left it with more voters from Parramatta as previously constituted than from Greenway, returning it to roughly its dimensions from before the 2007 election. The changes have transformed it from an outer urban and semi-rural to an entirely urban electorate, turning a 4.5 per cent Liberal margin into 5.8 per cent notional Labor margin. This has prompted Liberal member Louise Markus to instead contest the seat’s highly marginal north-western neighbour Macquarie, which bears a greater geographic resemblance to the old Greenway than the electorate bearing the name.
Greenway takes 43,000 voters from Parramatta in an area extending from Pendle Hill north to Lalor Park and Kings Langley. To the west of this it takes a further strip of territory including part of Blacktown from Chifley. The area that carries over from the old Greenway, containing 38,000 voters, is located to the north: from Quakers Hill, Acacia Gardens and Parklea through a narrow strip of territory to the north-west as far as Riverstone. Beyond that it loses most of the Hawkesbury local government area, including 41,000 voters, to Macquarie. The electorate was created in 1984 and held for Labor by margins at or near the double-digit range until 1996, when inaugural member Russell Gorman was succeeded by Frank Mossfield. Mossfield retired after a low-profile parliamentary career in 2004 and was succeeded as Labor candidate by Ed Husic, spokesman for Integral Energy and a non-practising Muslim of Bosnian background. The Liberals were perhaps more astute in nominating Louise Markus, a community worker with Hillsong Church, then located in the electorate.
Amid muttering of a whispering campaign targeting Husic’s religion, Markus secured a narrow victory with a 3.7 per cent swing (Husic has now re-emerged as candidate for Chifley. Markus was no doubt assisted by a remarkable 11.8 per cent informal vote, most likely resulting from a bloated field of candidates and a large proportion of non-English speaking voters. She was done a further good turn by the redistribution that followed, which boosted her margin from 0.6 per cent 11.0 per cent. With the redistribution effectively having created a new seat for Labor, their nomination has gone to Michelle Rowland, a former Blacktown councillor. Rowland is said to have been “courted” by the party, and was imposed as candidate by the national executive with the backing of the Right. As with all such interventions this met with displeasure among local party branches, with critics said to have included Frank Mossfield. The Liberals took a surprisingly long time to finalise their candidate selection process given talk that the seat might by in play, eventually endorsing local solicitor Jaymes Diaz on the eve of the campaign.
Greenway was one of four western Sydney marginals covered by a Galaxy survey conducted through the second last week of the campaign, targeting 200 respondents per electorate, which collectively showed a swing against Labor of 3.9 per cent. The JWS Research-Telereach poll conducted during the final weekend of the campaign, covering 400 respondents in the electorate with a margin of error of about 5 per cent, had Labor with a slender lead of 50.8-49.2.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.