The picture of Liberal v Labor in the Sydney based electorates has long been based around the Parramatta River – as in, north of the river is Liberal, south of the river is Labor. As in this graphic –
The “south of the river” used to also refer to the western suburbs as well. This is somewhat ironic for a Labor Government that largely ignored the west and south-western suburbs in their building of infrastructure, health spending and paucity of public education spending in those areas. Even in 2007 the outer suburban seats voted for Morris Iemma, even if they had voted for John Howard in 2004.
Now, if the odds on Sportsbet are to be believed, the map will look something like this:
This is my work with Illustrator’s paint brush tool, guessing which seats are which. So, if I’m wrong with some of the colouring, please forgive me. But it’s the general picture of what Sydney’s seats will look like after next Saturday. The ALP would be, after this election, be clinging to their Eastern Suburbs old-school working class ALP seats, the heavily multicultural seats in the inner South West, and the poorer working class seats in the West and outer South West.
But where will the re-invention come for the ALP? Let’s hope for everyone’s sake in and outside the party it doesn’t come from the same sources as it did – the NUW, for example, gave us Karyn Paluzzano and gave support to Paul Gibson. The AWU gives the country Paul Howes. Then we had the Fairfield district and Joe Tripodi, whose influence spread like a toxic oil spill throughout Sydney.
The ALP should go back to being a grassroots party, listening to the separate electorates again, being good local fighters for local issues. The Liberal Government will probably be little better than the ALP at delivering infrastructure to their new western and south western Sydney seats. They seem at this stage willing to reward the North Western seats for their loyalty and keen to make the same mistakes in terms of urban sprawl “planning” as they made in the late 80s and 90s. When those failures occur and when voters discover that the local Liberal candidates probably aren’t very good at delivering, then the ALP will actually need to know what people want in those outer suburban seats – and ignore Sussex Street sometimes. That would be a start.
Final comment – it has been suggested that the situation could be worse for the ALP – imagine if the Green won Heffron and the losses in the inner city were greater, it could look like this: