Parramatta – Australia 2019

ALP 7.7%

Incumbent MP
Julie Owens, since 2004.

Geography
Western Sydney. The seat of Parramatta covers the centre of Parramatta and surrounding suburbs, including Granville, Holroyd, Wentworthville, Westmead, Carlingford, Dundas and Rydalmere, and parts of Merrylands, South Granville and Toongabbie.

History
Parramatta is an original Federation electorate. The seat has long been a marginal seat, focused on the Parramatta CBD. The seat has shrunk substantially from its original boundaries, when it covered most of what is now northwestern Sydney and stretched as far as Lithgow.

The seat was first won in 1901 by Joseph Cook, a former minister in George Reid’s Free Trade colonial government. Cook held the seat for the first twenty years of Federation, successively for the Free Trade Party, Anti-Socialist Party, Commonwealth Liberal Party and the Nationalists.

Cook served as Leader of the Anti-Socialist Party following George Reid’s retirement in 1908, and agreed to merge with Alfred Deakin’s Protectionists in 1909 to form the Commonwealth Liberal Party. He served as Defence Minister in Deakin’s final government and became Liberal leader after Deakin’s defeat at the 1910 election.

Cook won the 1913 election, becoming Prime Minister, but with a Labor majority in the Senate his government was stifled, and he called a Double Dissolution in 1914, which he lost.

In 1916, Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes left the ALP over the issue of conscription, and Cook agreed to merge his Liberals with the Labor rebels to form the Nationalist Party, with Cook as Hughes’ deputy. He retired in 1921 to serve as High Commissioner in London.

The ensuing by-election was won by Herbert Pratten. Pratten moved to the new seat of Martin in 1922, and was replaced in Parramatta by fellow Nationalist Eric Bowden. Pratten held Martin until his death in 1928, while Bowden held Parramatta until 1929, when he lost the seat.

Labor candidate Albert Rowe won in 1929, but only held it for one term, losing it to United Australia Party candidate Frederick Stewart in 1931. Stewart went on to serve in a variety of ministerial roles in the Lyons and Menzies governments, and retired in 1946.

Parramatta was won in 1946 by Liberal candidate Howard Beale. Beale served as a minister in the Menzies government from its election in 1949 until his retirement in 1958, when he became Ambassador to the United States.

The seat was won in 1958 by prominent barrister Garfield Barwick, who held the seat for the Liberals until 1964, when he was appointed Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

The 1964 by-election was held by Liberal candidate Nigel Bowen. Bowen joined Harold Holt’s cabinet following the 1966 election and remained there until the election of the Whitlam government. He left Parliament in 1973 to serve on the NSW Supreme Court.

The 1973 by-election was a key contest during the Whitlam government. Bowen had held on by a slim margin in 1972, but Liberal candidate Philip Ruddock managed a 7% swing and won the seat.

Ruddock was re-elected in 1974 and 1975, but moved to the new seat of Dundas in 1977. He held Dundas until its abolition in 1993, when he moved to Berowra, which he still holds today. He served as Minister for Immigration then Attorney-General in the Howard government.

Parramatta was won in 1977 by the ALP’s John Brown. Brown served as a junior minister for the first two terms of the Hawke government, and was promoted to Cabinet in 1987, but was forced to resign as a minister in 1988 after misleading the House, and retired in 1990.

Brown was succeeded by former Mayor of Parramatta Paul Elliott, also an ALP member. Elliott served as a Parliamentary Secretary in the final term of the Labor government, and lost Parramatta to Liberal candidate Ross Cameron in 1996.

Cameron was appointed a Parliamentary Secretary after the 2001 election, and continued in similar roles until the 2004 election, where he was one of the few Liberal MPs to lose their seat, with Labor candidate Julie Owens winning the seat.

The 2007 redistribution pushed Parramatta north and made it notionally Liberal, but a big swing saw Owens retain the seat. Owens won further terms in 2010, 2013 and 2016.

Candidates

  • Phil Bradley (Greens)
  • Assessment
    Parramatta is a marginal seat, but has trended Labor at recent elections and will likely stay in Labor hands.

    2016 result

    CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
    Julie Owens Labor 38,10946.5+4.3
    Michael Beckwith Liberal 28,19434.4-9.2
    Phil Bradley Greens 5,6406.9+1.7
    Keith PiperChristian Democratic Party4,3475.3+2.8
    Mahesh RajIndependent2,0482.5+2.5
    Mark GuestLiberal Democrats2,0132.5+2.5
    Mikaela WuFamily First1,2021.5+1.5
    Andrew DriessenOnline Direct Democracy4690.6+0.6
    Informal8,3679.3

    2016 two-party-preferred result

    CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
    Julie Owens Labor 47,30057.7+6.4
    Michael Beckwith Liberal 34,72242.3-6.4

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into three parts: north-east, north-west and south. The north-east covers all booths on the north-eastern side of the Parramatta river, while the south covers booths in the CBD and further south and the north-west covers booths to the west of the CBD.

    The ALP won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in two areas, polling 60.9% in the north-west and 64.4% in the south.

    The Liberal Party won a narrow 50.3% majority in the north-east.

    Voter groupALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    North-East49.723,37128.5
    South64.416,38220.0
    North-West60.915,34418.7
    Other votes57.612,19714.9
    Pre-poll59.614,72818.0

    Two-party-preferred votes in Parramatta at the 2016 federal election

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    1 COMMENT

    1. The Carlingford booth in Bennelong swung strongly back towards Labor at the byelection. If they can keep up their pitch to those demographics, Labor will be safe here until we’ve been through the whole life cycle of a Labor government.

      This is one of the seats, along with Greenway and Lindsay, that I’ve heard come up as a possible “plebiscite gain”, where traditional Labor voters switch to the Liberals on social issues. Looking at the booths I think I can safely ignore that theory; Labor are more solid here than I thought.

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