Electorate: Macquarie Fields
Margin: Labor 11.1%
Region: Outer South-Western Sydney
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Electorate analysis: The electorate of Macquarie Fields covers unfashionable suburbs 30 kilometres south-west of the centre of Sydney, from Macquarie Fields itself north to Casula and west to Denham Court and Austral. The seat was created in 1988 in place of abolished Ingleburn, and renamed Moorebank between 1991 and 1999. Ingleburn was held for its seven-year existence by Stan Knowles, who carried over as member for Macquarie Fields until his mid-term retirement in 1990. He was succeeded at a by-election by his son Craig Knowles, who in time was groomed for the leadership while serving as Health Minister and Transport Minister in the Carr government. Since neither area proved a notable success for the government, his gloss diminished over time and he was not rated as a front-runner when Bob Carr called it quits. Facing demotion under Morris Iemma, Knowles instead opted to join Carr and Treasurer Andrew Refshauge in retiring in August 2005, thereby initiating three simultaneous by-elections on September 17.
Labor’s preselection went to Steven Chaytor, a Campbelltown councillor and senior adviser to Gough Whitlam from 1999 to 2005, who survived a 12.4 per cent swing to the Liberals at the ensuing by-election. His parliamentary career proved to be short-lived: the following January he was expelled from the ALP after being convicted of assaulting his girlfriend, the magistrate finding he had pushed and kicked her. The conviction was quashed four months after his exit from parliament, an appeal judge finding he acted in self-defence and was attempting to stop her committing suicide, and he was reinstated into the party. Macquarie Fields meanwhile had been bequeathed to paediatrician Andrew McDonald, perhaps with an eye to countering the impact of whistleblower nurse Nola Fraser’s candidacy for the Liberal Party. The ensuing swing of 12.2 per cent was one of the biggest in the state, but still enough to leave McDonald with an 11.1 per cent buffer. A member of the Right faction, McDonald was promoted to parliamentary secretary for health after Morris Iemma’s departure as Premier in September 2008.
The Liberals have endorsed Casula real estate agent Sam Eskaros, who won preselection ahead of Liverpool deputy mayor Ned Mannoun and St Andrews business owner Gordon Irsak. Two weeks out from polling day, the Daily Telegraph reported internal polling had Labor anticipating Eskaros would win.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.