By Lisa Kremmer
16 August 2013
I am a wife, mother, chief cook and bottle washer, gardener, avid reader and Registered Nurse who has lived in south western Sydney most of my life. I was indoctrinated into the Australian Labor Party, joining at around 16 – as one used to do in a family with worker roots. My membership lapsed many years ago now, and I now prefers to observe politics independently. I currently work with the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, but my views are are completely my own.
The federal seat of Macarthur lies in the outer south western Sydney suburbs, covering most of Camden in the west, parts of Campbelltown in the east, extending north to Wallacia and south to Appin and Wedderburn. The seat, a bellwether seat until 2004, is named after one of our most famous locals. – John Macarthur. Sadly, Elizabeth Macarthur, the wife of John is nowhere near as well-known as she should be. While John Macarthur spent years in England trying to save his colonial neck, Elizabeth ran the family farms and other mercantile interests. She is also credited with planting grape vines at Belgenny Farm, some of which reportedly still exist today.
But enough of the history – what is Macarthur like today? It’s a much more sophisticated place to live, with significant population growth and urban sprawl.
Camden is overrun with fine restaurants, a few pubs and a farmers markets every fortnight. Pockets of the landed gentry remain, and there is quite a bit of wealth here and about, but there are also pockets of social disadvantage and poverty, predominantly in the suburbs around Campbelltown.
Interestingly for me, I’ve got family connections across the region. My grandmother was one of the ‘Ducks’, and for anyone who’s lived in or around Camden, that’s a name with a lot of local history. My father was a long serving Councillor for over 20 years and Mayor of Campbelltown City Council. Indeed the current federal member for Macarthur, Russell Matheson, credits my father with starting his political career and acknowledged Dad as a mentor in his maiden speech. Dad was an active Labor Party member, joining up all six of his children until a heated falling out, which often happens in the ‘game’ of politics.
And as to other contenders, the ALP poses the main threat …. more to come next instalment.