Morrison’s appearances at Reid have been incidental; once for the Easter Show and once for a campaign “rally” in the Olympic Park last weekend.
One Liberal source said of the party’s internal investigation into Parramatta: “The interest in the seat is a barometer that the polls for us are strong.”
If Labor loses, there would be an embarrassing repudiation of Anthony Albanese’s decision to parachute Kevin Rudd’s former economic adviser, Andrew Charlton, across town from Bellevue Hill as Labour’s “star” candidate.
In a “gotcha” moment that may be revealing, however, Charlton struggled to name three local restaurants when a reporter from Indian Link News this week (though two out of three isn’t bad for a newcomer).
Similarly, in Fowler’s Cabramatta seat, Labor has controversially selected another outsider: shadow Home Affairs Secretary and former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, who moved into the seat from the Scottish island of Pittwater.
Liberals are hopeful that independent Fairfield deputy mayor Dai Le can overtake Keneally for the Liberal preferences. Le, a former Liberal, is backed by high-profile former Labor Mayor Frank Carbone.
A troika of Western Sydney Liberals, including Fowler’s candidate Courtney Nguyen, launched their campaigns Thursday night at Goat-vale Diggers, drawing Foreign Minister Marise Payne and ministers of state to the event. Damien Tudehope and Mark Coure, and Liverpool Councilor Ned Mannoun.
“I don’t think Fowler will make up his mind on election night,” said Mannoun, who was optimistic that Le could cause an upset. “It will be interesting to see what happens in this neck of the woods.”
Labor sources, meanwhile, remained confident. While Le was a “formidable candidate” and “nobody thinks he’s a stepper,” Keneally was a well-known figure and is campaigning vigorously.
Reid is likely close, but most liberals treat him as something approaching a lost cause. Bennelong, where MP John Alexander is retiring, is a 50-50 proposition, one Liberal said. The government holds it by a margin of almost 7 per cent and Labor has only won it once, when Maxine McKew beat John Howard.
Preferences will be vital, and Labor negotiated with Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party to be above the Liberals in both Reid and Bennelong. NSW Labor would be boosted by this week’s Resolve Strategic survey for the Herald which found that their primary vote in NSW was higher than in Victoria and Queensland, at 38 per cent.
Macquarie’s Richmond and Blue Mountains seat, held by Labour, is up for grabs courtesy of her paltry 0.19 per cent margin, though Labor is confident Susan Templeman will improve that. A Labor campaign source said the Liberals had “definitely taken a hit in their primary” on the seat.
Hughes, in the south of the city, is a bit of a wild card courtesy of incumbent MP Craig Kelly who defected to the UAP. Survey data leaked to the australian this week he gave Liberal Jenny Ware a 37 percent primary vote and Kelly in single digits; a Liberal with knowledge of the seat said it sounded good.
Sometimes it is instructive to see what the betting markets show (sometimes it is also completely useless). They are leaning heavily into the headlines, with Kennedy unlikely to retain Bennelong for the Liberals, Keneally easily retaining Fowler for Labour, and Templeman comfortably at home and hosed down at Macquarie.
At Robertson’s Central Coast headquarters, the money is roughly split between Liberal MP Lucy Wicks and Labor challenger Gordon Reid. Reid is a local ER doctor, straight out of the successful Labor Party playbook in February’s Bega by-election, where obstetrician Michael Holland defeated Fiona Kotvojs.
On the south coast, former NSW transport minister Andrew Constance is widely seen as a good chance to win Gilmore back for the Liberals, though bookmakers still have Labor’s Fiona Phillips as a little favourite.