By Lisa Kremmer @LisaKremmer

22 August 2013

Having the opportunity to write about the election from the comfort of my backyard has been an interesting experience for a number of reasons.  For one, it’s given me some insight into the people who live here, they are after all the voters who will help decide the outcome.  So often in the hubbub of daily life, I don’t take the time to look around me and take stock.

This is a region of contrasts in Sydney’s west.  On one side of the electoral hill, in Macarthur, is Blairmount, a middle-class suburb surrounded by scenic landscape.  Most of the houses are privately owned.  The median household income is $1299.50 per week, and unemployment is five per cent. (source:


On the other side, in the seat of Werriwa, is the suburb of Claymore.  Most of the houses are owned by Housing NSW.  The median household income is $588 per week, and 31 per cent are unemployed (source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census 2011)


Social disadvantage is a critical issue, especially around Campbelltown.  Having coal-seam gas (CSG) wells around Camden, environmental and industry policies are important.

I’ve also been monitoring the campaign itself as it appears at a local level.  Surprisingly, there’s very little evidence that there is an election campaign in progress.  While there are corflutes for the Liberal candidate, we’re not being overrun, and there aren’t any on display for the ALP candidate Ian Fulton.  If I didn’t avidly devour the news from all media sources, I’d be hard pressed to know there was an election coming.  Two letterbox drops from the Liberal candidate, and none from any other candidate or party.

What do I want to ask the candidates?  There are simply too many critically important areas where imprudent action at a federal level could have a significant impact, and not for the better.  Areas such as climate change, CSG, public health services, education reforms, the NDIS, the treatment of refugees, industrial relations, affordable housing, the economy and free trade agreements.

While out on the campaign trail, I ran into Ian Fulton at a Kevin Rudd campaign event in Northmead.  Ian seems to me to be a quiet, articulate yet unassuming fellow.  During this campaign, I’ve grappled with the changing face of the electorate and the driving forces of those who would seek to represent us, questioning why some people want to enter politics.  I asked Ian why he was standing – equity and opportunity for every Australian, a fair go and helping others when they’re down and out of luck, he said.  While Ian doesn’t have a war chest to fund his campaign, or to throw money at local causes, he spoke about the needs of Macarthur residents with a deep level of understanding.

Ian runs his own small business, being the franchisee of Aussie Home Loans in Queen Street, Campbelltown.  The irony is not lost on me.  A small business operator running for the ALP, and a printer/police officer as the sitting member representing the Liberal Party.  Both are decent people and would make good representatives of this electorate, but in days gone by, it would have been the reverse – business interests clearly aligned with conservative politics, and workers firmly aligned with the Labor Party.  How times have changed.

It’s interesting that the ALP machine has chosen a hands-off approach to the Macarthur electorate – with only a three per cent margin on a two-party preferred basis, it’s not a done deal and is a winnable seat for the ALP, but that would require local campaigning.  The flow of preferences will be worth watching, especially with candidates from Katter’s Australian Party and Palmer United Party coming to the fray.  The Greens polled 5.6{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3} last time, with a 1.3{17ac88c265afb328fa89088ab635a2a63864fdefdd7caa0964376053e8ea14b3} swing in their favour.  How this will pan out on September 7 is anyone’s guess.

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