Margin: Labor 15.1%
Region: Inner Western Sydney
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Electorate analysis: Strathfield is located about 10 kilometres to the west of the city, and includes the suburbs of Croydon, Burwood and Enfield along with Strathfield itself. It was created in 1988 in place of abolished Burwood, which from its creation in 1927 had only been won for Labor in the 1978 and 1981 Wranslides. Paul Zammit recovered it for the Liberals in 1984 and transferred to Strathfield in 1988, holding it until he entered federal politics in 1996 as the member for Lowe (which he lost to Labor’s John Murphy in 1998). Bruce MacCarthy retained Strathfield for the Liberals at the ensuing by-election, but it fell to Labor after an unfavourable redistribution and an 11.1 per cent swing in 1999.
The new member was Paul Whelan, the Carr government Police Minister who was forced to contest the seat after the abolition of Ashfield, which he had held since 1976. Whelan remained in the portfolio until his retirement in 2003, when Strathfield mayor Virginia Judge retained the seat for Labor with a further 7.4 per cent swing. Judge had won Labor preselection unopposed with the backing of Eddie Obeid, upper house MP and powerbroker for the Terrigals sub-faction of the Right. She had earlier sought preselection ahead of the 1995 election, and for the by-election that followed Zammit’s resignation. Judge and Obeid reportedly fell out subsequently over a branch-stacking war which began when Obeid sought to reassert his influence when it became apparent he no longer had any influence over her. Judge won promotion to Fair Trading Minister when Nathan Rees became Premier in September 2008, and further gained the arts portfolio on the ascension of Kristina Keneally in December 2009.
The Liberals have endorsed Charles Casuscelli, who is the principal of a firm called Operations and Logistic Management Consulting and Services and has a part-time position in the Australian Defence Force, holding the rank of major.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.