The new prime minister, Julia Gillard, is a creature of the Labor Party. She is from Melbourne (before that Adelaide) but apparently like all good ALP operators has an obsession with western Sydney.
In signalling her shift in population policy (or emphasis or whatever), she yacked about that part of the world. This is a very Labor thing to do, especially from opposition.
Throughout the Howard years, the ALP held about 80% of seats in what could be described as that area. When winning government in 2007 they took a total of – wait for it – two new seats there.
In 2010, after redistribution, more seats are in play in the general region: Macarthur (Liberal-held but now a notional margin of 0.5 percent for Labor) Greenway (Lib-held but notional 5.7 percent Labor) and Lindsay (Labor by 6.3). Go further south and there’s winnable Hughes (0.5 Lib). Update: let’s throw in provincial Macquarie, Labor by 0.3 percent.
Still, the way Rudd won in ‘07 was to concentrate on that category of people called Australians. You might have heard of those: from many walks of life, in the main outward-looking. A decent two party preferred majority of votes from this component pretty well guarantees you a majority of the 150 electorates in the country.
But we’re returning to the self-defeating idea that Labor’s support begins in western Sydney and if they make it big enough there it kind of overflows into the rest of the country.
This was a hallmark of the Crean and Latham oppositions; they carried on about that part of the world alot. It’s a very machineman thing to do, but it doesn’t work. Some of the biggest swings away from Latham in ‘04 were in outer western Sydney, as were some of the biggest to Rudd in ‘07. Yet every utterance of Latham’s was conceived with those people in mind.
Check out the forest, Julia.