Julia Gillard’s planned week-long stay in western Sydney bemused some commentators but academics and politicians know how important the region is.
That the Prime Minister might stay in a Rooty Hill, Parramatta or Blacktown hotel has fascinated people from east of Strathfield.
Where do you think Ms Gillard should visit during her time in western Sydney? Tell us below.
David Burchell, a lecturer in politics and history at the University of Western Sydney, said there was a perception that because the western suburbs ranked lower on socioeconomic graphs, everyone must vote Labor.
‘‘As goes western Sydney, so goes the country, is our modern political truism,’’ he said.
‘‘Despite the assumptions of many in the political class, western Sydney is not a Labor heartland area.
‘‘In fact, it’s not rusted on to any of the parties.’’
Dr Burchell said Ms Gillard faced many challenges to convince a diversity of people they should vote Labor.
‘‘The thing with western Sydney is it’s not a monolith, it’s not one homogenous bunch — inner west is different to the outer west,’’ he said.
‘‘Most seats in the outer west have been swing seats for 15 years or more.’’
The cost of housing, asylum seeker policy, perceptions of a fractured government and the ghost of Kevin Rudd were all problems for Ms Gillard in western Sydney, Dr Burchell said.
While some pundits have dismissed the Prime Minister’s visit as a knee-jerk reaction to poor polls, Greenway MP Michelle Rowland said that was nonsense.
‘‘This has been discussed and diary planned a while ago,’’ she said.
‘‘The Prime Minister’s diary is planned months in advance.’’
Ms Rowland’s electorate is one of the most marginal in the country and the most closely fought in western Sydney, held by a margin of 0.88 per cent.
She believed people would respond positively to Ms Gillard’s visit.
‘‘We’ve already been inundated with people and community groups wanting to have the Prime Minister visit their events and facilities,’’ she said.
‘‘One of the biggest complaints you get from people is that politicians are so far removed.
‘‘Here you have the Prime Minister of Australia coming to the community.
‘‘I think that’s a really big thing.’’
Western Sydney electorates:
Greenway: Michelle Rowland, Labor, held by 0.88 per cent;
Lindsay: David Bradbury, Labor, held by 1.12 per cent;
Parramatta: Julie Owens, Labor, held by 4.37 per cent;
McMahon: Chris Bowen, Labor, held by 7.81 per cent;
Blaxland: Jason Clare, Labor, held by 12.23 per cent;
Chifley: Ed Husic, Labor, held by 12.34 per cent.