Party leaders make a beeline for Reid


(Photo: Hanh Yoon)

Fiona Martin (Liberal) and Sam Crosby (Labor) in Reid

By the halfway mark in this Federal Election campaign, it was the Western Sydney seat of Reid that had hosted more visits by major party leaders, than any other electorate.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison started his campaign there, garnering attention for his “ni hao” faux pas, while Labor Leader Bill Shorten has visited four times. Both may yet return.

The marginal Liberal seat is up for grabs now that Malcolm Turnbull ally and former minister Craig Laundy, is retiring. The main contenders are Liberal Fiona Martin and Labor’s Sam Crosby.

Myles Houlbrook-Walk turns the spotlight on the key seat of Reid.

The Race for Reid

(Photo: @LaundyCraigMP)
Retiring Reid MP Craig Laundy

As a moderate Liberal, Craig Laundy is a popular figure within his community.

Under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, he found his way into cabinet and was promoted from an assistant ministry into a ministry position, in 2017.

He often defied his party, taking a more progressive stance on watering down the Racial Discrimination Act; partially supporting recognition for Palestine; and defending the ABC.

He showed unwavering support for Mr Turnbull and walked alongside the then Prime Minister as he faced his leadership spill.

But in March, he announced his resignation… leaving the Liberal Party scrambling for a replacement candidate

After two-high profile options declined to run (former NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas and author and broadcaster Stan Grant), the Prime Minister Scott Morrison selected Fiona Martin.

Ms Martin, a child psychologist who’s often appeared in the media, has styled herself as a pro-multiculturalism, pro-small business, moderate Liberal.

But with her fairly limited profile and only recently receiving the nod for pre-selection, Labor believes the seat is winnable.

Labor’s candidate Sam Crosby has been in place for more than a year and has built a local profile.

His roots are as a staffer-turned think tank director at the progressive McKell Institute.

His Facebook page has almost ten times the following of his Liberal rival and he’s spent the year attending various cultural ceremonies in the area, including Dawahli.

Leader Bill Shorten visited the electorate in the first week of the campaign to support Mr Crosby and, as a member of the Labor-right, to bolster his factional allies in NSW.

(Photo: Hanh Yoon)
Signs at a pre-polling station in Reid

Electorate Snapshot

MP: Craig Laundy – Liberal Party (retiring)

Size: 55 sq km

Location and Boundaries: Reid is located between the bay area and the edge of inner-western Sydney. It covers from the Parramatta River in the north, Drummoyne and Rodd Point in the east, Silverwater, Auburn (part) and Lidcombe (part) in the west, and Strathfield, Burwood and Croydon in the south.

The main suburbs include Abbotsford, Auburn (part), Burwood, Cabarita, Chiswick, Concord, Croydon, Drummoyne, Five Dock, Homebush, Lidcombe (part), Mortlake, Newington, Rodd Point, Russell Lea, Silverwater, Strathfield, Sydney Olympic Park and Wareemba.

Population: 181,347 (105,459 voters). At the last election there was a turnout of 90.4 per cent.

Demographics: The people of Reid are generally upper-middle class, with a much higher median level of education and income than the average Australian. According to the 2016 census results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the electorate’s median weekly household income was $2384, compared to the national median of $1438.

More than 37 per cent of Reid’s population has obtained a Bachelor Degree level of education or above, significantly higher than the national level of 22%.

There were 95,686 people who reported being in the labour force in the week before Census night – 61.9 per cent are employed full time, 27.5 per cent were employed part-time and 6.2 per cent were unemployed.

The most common occupations in Reid are: professionals (31.7%), managers (15.3%), clerical and administrative workers (14.2%), technicians and trades workers (9.6%), and sales workers (9.3%).

When it comes to home ownership: 27.2 per cent of homes were owned outright (below both the national and state averages), 28.1 per cent were mortgaged (below national and state averages) and 41.5 per cent were rented (higher than the state and national averages.)

Reid voters are slightly younger, with a median age of 34 compared to the national median of 38, according to the 2016 Census results. The largest age groups were: 25-29 year-olds (11.5%), 30-34 year-olds (10.7%), and 20-24 year-olds (8.8%). That means 30 per cent of Reid voters were aged between 20 and 34-years-old at the time of the Census -10 per cent higher than the national average.

The most common ancestries reported in Reid were: Chinese (18.2%), English (12.0%), Australian (10.7%), Italian (7.6%) and Korean (5.6%).

Political History: Historically, Reid has been a safe Labor seat since its inception in 1922, with variations of the party winning it at every election – by significant margins.

This changed in 2010, when it was significantly redistributed to include the majority of a now abolished seat – Lowe. The 2010 redistribution saw Labor’s primary vote drop from first to second place in the electorate for the first time, with a swing of more than 11 per cent. Greens preferences were just enough to see Labor hold the seat with a margin of 4.5 per cent.

The Liberals went on to win the seat in 2013, when Craig Laundy, the son of one of Australia’s most successful hoteliers, used a well-financed campaign to capitalise on electorate anger over the Gillard-Rudd coup. Now the Liberals are wondering if there’ll be a similar price to pay for the Morrison-Turnbull coup. – Story: Myles Houlbrook-Walk @MylesWalk