Baird’s win overshadows turbulence in Western Sydney: first review of results

In the expected win of the Baird coalition government Western Sydney was, as I have suggested, not quite what one would have expected. Key community organisations (both pro-ethnic and anti-diversity) have affected the results, pushing the outcomes towards or away from Labor, which overall achieved a 9% swing (as predicted in the polls) . The ALP should have won East Hills (Lib 0.2%) , but conservative social groups pushed back against the progressive ALP candidate Cameron Murphy giving a pro-Liberal swing of 1% . In Lakemba Lebanese Muslim groups backed ALP candidate Jihad Dib, who gained a 15% swing, while a campaign by the same community in conjunction with a Turkish group saw Luke Foley, Labor leader, oversee a 2% swing to the Liberal candidate Ronney Oueik in his transfer to the Legislative Assembly in Auburn. Overall in Western Sydney “local” Labor candidates drawn from the communities saw swings up to 16%, while some Labor candidates that alienated local populations for some reason saw swings to the Liberals (Seven Hills). In very real and immediate ways then, race and ethnic political issues have affected voting patterns, both amongst non-Anglo groups, and the Anglo community.

In middle class western suburbs along the rivers, many ethnic voters moved away from the Liberals; Ryde’s Victor Dominello, Communities Minister, saw a 14% move to the ALP; however Drummoyne, Parramatta and Oatley moved 1-3% towards the Liberals.   Claims though that the western suburbs have either deserted or returned to the ALP, are not borne out by the current figures, which indicate a much more nuanced analysis of the factors and features is needed.

Well-known ALP local candidates with good records in local government performed well, such as Laos-born LSE graduate Anthalouk Chantivong in Macquarie Fields. Foley in particular will need to watch his back in Auburn, were local antipathy to his affiliations (Israel and Armenia) could provide a continuing bumpy ride. The very different results in Lakemba and Auburn, adjacent seats with high Muslim populations, points to the influence of the Lebanese Muslim Association and its activist president Samier Dandan.   It is likely that a Labor Muslim candidate in Auburn, such as the banned Hicham Zraika, would have polled similarly to Dib.

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