By ALLISON HORE
Sydney’s inner-city seats are home to some of the federal government’s most high profile politicians. The seat of Grayndler is no exception.
Grayndler covers the inner south of Sydney’s CBD and includes Leichhardt and parts of Ashfield, Canterbury and Marrickville council areas. Labor powerhouse Anthony Albanese has been sitting in the seat since 1996. He served as a senior minister in the last Labor government, and was even briefly Deputy Prime Minister under Kevin Rudd’s second stint as leader.
Under Shorten’s party leadership in 2013, Mr Albanese was given the roles of Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and the Shadow Minister for Tourism. In 2014, he was given the additional duty of Shadow Minister for Cities.
Greens targeting Grayndler again
In theory, Grayndler is a safe seat for Mr Albanese as it has been red since its inception. Mr Albanese won 46 per cent of the primary vote in the 2016 election, and after preferences, won just under 66 per cent of the two-candidate preferred vote.
The Greens have long targeted the seat of Grayndler, and on a state level they have been very successful in the area, with Jenny Leong and Jamie Parker sitting in Newtown and Balmain respectively. When Labor’s popularity was slipping in 2010, the Greens came within 4.2 per cent of winning the seat.
Triple-threat firefighter, environmentalist and union activist Jim Casey is running for the seat this year. In the last election, he managed to win just under 35 per cent of the vote on a two-candidate preferred basis.
Mr Casey has been living in Sydney for most of his adult life and says that most of his family and friends live in the inner west. He works at the local fire station.
“I want to represent our community in Canberra because both the Liberal and Labor parties are not up to doing the job required,” he says.
Mr Casey believes both major parties are not achieving the climate change progress that the Grayndler constituents are yearning for.
“We care about the environment, but both of the major parties are beholden to big mining companies which are driving carbon emissions and climate change.”
Before the 2016 election, a controversial video surfaced of Mr Casey denouncing the Labor party as it is run under Bill Shorten.
He told the ABC, “We’re a rich country, we should be doing better. I’ve very little confidence that a Bill Shorten-led government will do that, unless it’s being encouraged to, and pushed to, by social movements.”
Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison travelled to Ashfield in the seat of Grayndler to announce the government would be committing $40 million for youth and indigenous affairs, mental health research and support services at the local Headspace mental health centre.
Liberal candidate for Grayndler Derek Henderson joined Mr Morrison for the announcement. Mr Henderson has worked as a police officer for more than 20 years in the New South Wales police and Australian federal police. He holds a Masters of Transnational Crime Prevention.
And that’s not the only ammo the Liberal party has loaded up for their shot at Grayndler, according to analysis by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (Natsem). People within the seat are among those who stand to benefit the most from the Liberal government’s new tax plan.
Annual gains will range from $262 to $291 per capita in disposable income between 2022 and 2023.
According to research from the Australian Futures Project, the people of Grayndler rated improving health services and addressing global warming as their two main concerns for the coming election. Reducing taxes was not one of the top five concerns for those in the electorate.
Labor is making hot promises to retain the seat, with an undertaking to provide $5 million to upgrade Marrickville’s historic Henson Park rugby league ground should it be elected. The funding would “transform” the ground into a “multi-purpose sporting facility that could host major AFL matches”.
Encouraging women’s participation
The project would include construction of women’s change rooms that would allow the park to be used for AFLW games which Mr Albanese says would be crucial in encouraging greater female participation in sport in the inner west.
“With professional sport increasingly dominated by elite national competitions and mega-stadiums, Federal Labor values that suburban sporting facilities continue to perform a vital role in our communities,” Mr Albanese said in a press release.
Mr Albanese’s high profile and Grayndler’s red-banded history make it very likely that Labor will retain the seat, but whether a swing towards the Greens continues in the seat remains to be seen.