Booth map of the day: Fowler


Today’s map shows the two-candidate-preferred vote by booth in Fowler between newly elected independent Dai Le and her opponent, former Labor senator Kristina Keneally.

The map shows booths won by Keneally in red, and booths won by Le in purple.

There seem to be two different trends interacting: underlying support for Labor relative to the Liberal Party, and the strongest areas for the Carbone-Le alliance in local government. Dai Le was deputy mayor of Fairfield until her election to parliament, as part of an alliance with the ex-mayor of Fairfield, Frank Carbone. Between them their alliance won ten out of thirteen seats on the council in December 2021, and Carbone was a loud and prominent supporter of his longtime ally’s federal campaign.

Le’s strongest results were not in the parts of the seat with the largest Vietnamese population, around Cabramatta. She did win some booths in this area, but Keneally also won some booths.

Her best results were in the north-west of the seat, around Edensor Park, Abbotsbury and Bossley Park, where she won every booth. While this area is in Fairfield council, it’s an area that Le has never represented as a ward councillor. You can see the ward boundaries, both old and new, for Fairfield council in my 2021 council election guide.

The north-west is also a relatively weak area for Labor as measured by the two-party-preferred vote in 2019, as you can see in my 2022 federal election guide. Labor polled just 51.2% of the two-party-preferred vote here, compared to 72.5% in the other parts of the seat in Fairfield council.

A majority of Fowler is in Fairfield, but it’s also interesting to look at those parts in Liverpool council, in the south-east of the seat. Keneally won the five booths to the west of the Georges River, with over 60% in the booths around the Liverpool CBD.

But Le won comfortably in the two booths in Chipping Norton, with 58% in each booth.

The results in Liverpool proper are much stronger than for Keneally in any part of Fairfield council, even though the 2019 results for Labor in that suburb were much weaker than in Cabramatta, Canley Vale and Carramar. That suggests Le’s support partly reflects the strength of her party on Fairfield council.

But the support for Le in Chipping Norton likely reflects the underlying Liberal vote in this suburb, where the Liberal Party polled 56-58% of the two-party-preferred vote in 2019. Indeed it appears that Le has won little more than the Liberal vote after preferences here.

All of this is consistent with Le picking up support from both Liberal voters, who were happy to vote for someone with a chance of defeating Labor in a traditional safe Labor seat, and Labor voters who wouldn’t normally consider voting for Labor’s main opponent. If you look at the seatwide primary vote swings, Labor lost 18.5%, and the Liberal Party lost 12.9%. This adds up to 31.4% of the primary vote, and Le polled 29.5%.

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  1. So what lessons should Labor take out of this seat?

    Was the parachuting-in of KK not the problem, so much as just a result of a popular local independent running?

  2. You could try to evaluate the Senate vote across the booths – there was a slight increase in the Senate Liberal vote across the electorate. Fowler also has a significant anti-vaxer vote (not Vietnamese – but big in Liverpool), so the UAP and ON also did OK. It would be worth a look when the Census is out to see how the booths tracked against languages spoken at home (picks up some Australian born speakers of parental language) or Ancestry across the electorate.

  3. See also especially
    “In Fowler, which is a very multicultural electorate with a large Vietnamese community (many with Chinese ethnicity), Labor’s vote dropped by nearly 19% after the party parachuted in Kristina Keneally. The local independent Dai Le picked up nearly all those previously ALP votes, while also taking nearly all the votes that left the Liberals (13%).

    The Senate vote in Fowler for the ALP also dropped significantly (8%) from 2019, while the Liberal vote rose slightly. In effect the loss of this formerly safe ALP seat in New South Wales almost cost the party a secure majority.”

  4. My comment on the Fowler thread some time ago seemed to go under the radar, so I’ll bring this up here:

    Labor’s objection to the last redistribution may have cost Labor the seat.

    The original AEC proposal had Fairfield (the suburb) in Fowler. Areas west of Smithfield Road were to be made part of McMahon:

    Labor objected to this with some nonsensical argument about McMahon not having a major centre: [Page 20]

    From what I recall, no one else objected to the boundary between Fowler and McMahon. Nonetheless, the committee folded, and we got the current boundaries. I imagine Labor was worried about McMahon becoming too marginal.

  5. I live in the north-west part of the Fowler electorate. Demographics are changing here with more McMansions springing up in place of the single storey houses it replaced. The Labor 2pp will gradually decline as more elections go by.

  6. @Expat The parachute quite clearly generated resentment and enabled an independent to take advantage. Had there been a local Labor candidate (like the original pick for the seat) the independent would not have reached anywhere near the same impact and likely not have bothered challenging (evidenced by the announcement of the run just before the election). The senate vote impact is a result of the HoR loss – many voters would just vote against Labor in both houses.

  7. The western parts of Fowler (e.g. Bossley Park, Abbotsbury, Edensor Park) are still within Fairfield LGA where Dai Le was their Deputy Mayor. She won there because the Liberal vote got smashed and partly because the UAP and PHON support was higher than average. I guess it’s either lockdown frustration or anti-vax sentiment that got the UAP and PHON votes, especially in the southern and western parts. During the lockdown of 2021, front line workers in this neck of the woods had to queue for hours for a Covid test so they could go to work or leave the LGA. The Cabramatta and surrounding suburbs were the ones that had swung away from Labor the most. There wasn’t a high Liberal vote to begin with.

    I mentioned elsewhere that Labor is lucky that they only lost one safe seat, unlike the Liberals who lost at least 10 safe seats or long-held seats. It’s probably a blessing in disguise for Labor and it should teach the major parties to never take safe seats for granted or assume that an outsider can just slide in.

  8. I believe Cabramatta had the strongest anti Labor swing. It’s just that the western parts of Fowler and Chipping Norton had stronger Lib votes to begin with which means more preferences to Dai Le. Cabramatta was the strongest Labor area in the seat prior to this election which is why the TCP isnt as strong as in other areas. The only area KK did well is in Liverpool which is not in Fairfield nor is it a Lib area.

  9. Basically Dai Le is the Labor version of the Teals. I’d imagine her election would be making Labor pretty nervous going into 2025 since all new government problems would be blamed on them instead of the Libs. This is kind of like how Zali Stegall was the first inner city teal independent which led to the Libs losing most of theit inner city seats to the teals.

  10. Abbotsbury, the strongest booth for Dai Le, had, if I remember correctly, recorded the highest proportion of Catholics for any NSW locality at the 2016 census – mostly Italian and Croatian heritage. It is ironic that Catholic voters seemed to have rejected one of Labor’s few openly devout RCs. Maybe the support of Frank Carbone meant more to Italian-Australians than Albanese’s tenuous Mediterranean links.

  11. There is no 2CP swing in Fowler. I guess I could’ve done an ALP primary vote swing, but I’ve moved on and have a lot of other work to do so these are all final and can’t be changed, sorry.

  12. It will be interesting to see what happens in the redistribution.

    Sydney overall is well under quota, so you might see seats expanding outwards. Fowler could regain Green Valley and the northern parts of Werriwa, while all of the Fairfield parts of the seat could be returned to McMahon. In this case, would Dai Le recontest Fowler or would she move with her Fairfield base to McMahon? She’d arguably do even better in a totally-Fairfield version of McMahon than she has here.

    Labor will be in a tricky situation….they’ll want to cram as many Labor areas into Fowler as possible to help win it back, but in doing so they risk Le jumping ship and squaring off against Chris Bowen.

  13. Regarding the apparent rejection of a ‘devout’ catholic, voters can spot a fake person, regardless of whether they release photos of themselves kneeling in prayer in a church. Big noting yourself a few times a year at the 10am Sunday service at the cathedral does not make you devout.

  14. Re Huckley Brown’s comment: Keneally met her husband at the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day in Poland even before she came to Australia and later entered politics. She was the spokesperson for the same event at Randwick Racecourse in 2008. She wears her religion on her sleeve, even disagreeing with mandatory disclosure of evidence of sexual abuse by priests, and is clearly devout rather than fake.


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