Margin: Labor 11.1%
Location: Inner Western Sydney, New South Wales
In a nutshell: Reid is the epicentre of the changes which resulted from the redistribution that has cut a seat out of New South Wales, the reconstitued seat being divided between territory from Reid and absolished Lowe. The existing member for Reid, Laurie Ferguson, has been accommodated in Werriwa, while the redrawn seat will be constested by Lowe MP John Murphy.
Electorate analysis: The electorate of Reid as constituted after the redistribution is effectively a redrawing of Lowe, which provides about 70 per cent of its voters, the remainder coming from the existing electorate of Reid. It was originally proposed that the seat would bear the new name of McMahon, but objections to the loss of the name Reid meant it was instead decided to accommodate McMahon by renaming Prospect. Reid now covers the southern bank of the Parramatta River from Drummoyne west to Silverwater, extending south to Burwood, Strathfield, and Auburn. The area carrying over from Reid is to the west of Homebush Bay Drive and Centenary Drive, from Silverwater south to Rookwood. Areas from the old Lowe have been transferred to Watson (25,000 voters around Belfield and Burwood in the south) and Grayndler (650 voters in a small part of northern Croydon). The new margin for the seat is 11.1 per cent, landing between the 2007 election margins for Lowe (7.4 per cent) and Reid (16.8 per cent).
Lowe was created in 1949 from areas covered by the since-abolished Martin and Parkes (the latter bearing no relation to the current rural electorate of that name), and had a very slight notional Labor margin. Billy McMahon held the seat throughout his career from 1949 to 1983, surviving strong challenges from Labor in 1961 and 1980. Labor’s Michael Maher won the by-election that followed his resignation, and it thereafter changed hands with some regularity. Bob Woods won it for the Liberals in 1987, but was weakened by redistribution and then tipped out by a swing to Labor’s Mary Easson in 1993. Paul Zammit gained the seat for the Liberals in the 1996 landslide, but quit the party in protest against the government’s airport policy in 1998, helping current member John Murphy recover it for Labor at the ensuing election by running as an independent.
Reid’s history went back to 1922, when it covered Bankstown, befre being pushed northwards by the creation of Blaxland in 1949. The seat has always been held by Labor members of various stripes, including a member of Jack Lang’s breakaway state party branch from 1931 to 1940, and by Lang himself for one term following a surprise win under the ALP (Non-Communist) banner in 1946. Left faction heavyweight Laurie Ferguson succeeded Whitlam and Hawke government minister Tom Uren as member in 1990. John Murphy first won preselection for Lowe ahead of Foreign Affairs Department secretary Michael Costello, who one suspects might have carved out a more substantial career. Murphy held parliamentary secretary positions from December 2001 until he stood down citing family illness in February 2009, but is better remembered for complaining in parliament about the size of a serving of beef stroganoff his wife had received from the parliamentary cafeteria.
Immediately after the redistribution was announced it was considered likely Murphy would face a preselection challenge from Laurie Ferguson. However, it became apparent Ferguson’s eyes were set on Fowler to the west, and he was eventually accommodated in its southern neighbour Werriwa. Murphy meanwhile retained preselection unopposed.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.