Fowler – Australia 2013

ALP 8.8%

Incumbent MP
Chris Hayes, since 2010. Previously Member for Werriwa 2005-2010.

South-western Sydney, in particular parts of Liverpool and Fairfield council areas. Includes parts of the Liverpool CBD and the suburbs of Cabramatta, Canley Vale, Lansvale, Mount Pritchard, Bonnyrigg, Ashcroft, Busby, Hinchinbrook, Cecil Hills and Green Valley.

Fowler was first created for the 1984 election as part of the expansion of the size of the House of Representatives. It is a very safe Labor seat and has always been Labor-held.

The seat was first won in 1984 by the ALP’s Ted Grace. Grace held the seat for fourteen years, retiring in 1998. He was succeeded by Julia Irwin, also from the ALP. Irwin held the seat until 2010.

In 2010, Irwin retired and he was replaced as Labor candidate by Chris Hayes. Hayes had held the neighbouring seat of Werriwa for five years, but had been forced to change seats to make room for Laurie Ferguson, whose seat had effectively been abolished.


Fowler is considered to have traditionally been a very safe Labor seat. A swing of almost 14% in 2010 saw the seat’s margin cut to less than 9%. In 2010, a long-term sitting MP was replaced by an MP not familiar with the area, and Hayes should have built up more of a personal vote since 2010. While 9% could be considered vulnerable in Western Sydney in current circumstances, Hayes should be able to hold on.

2010 result

Chris HayesALP40,63652.86-15.06
Thomas DangLIB28,40236.94+14.10
Signe WesterbergGRN5,1446.69+0.73
Mike HeadSEP2,7003.51+3.51

2010 two-candidate-preferred result

Chris HayesALP45,17858.76-13.81
Thomas DangLIB31,70441.24+13.81
Polling places in Fowler at the 2010 federal election. Bonnyrigg-Mt Pritchard in blue, Cabramatta in green, Liverpool in orange. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Fowler at the 2010 federal election. Bonnyrigg-Mt Pritchard in blue, Cabramatta in green, Liverpool in orange. Click to enlarge.

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into three areas. Polling places in the City of Fairfield have been split between Cabramatta in the east and Bonnyrigg-Mount Pritchard in the west. Polling places in the City of Liverpool have been grouped together.

The ALP polled just over 60% in Liverpool and Cabramatta, and 57.5% in Bonnyrigg-Mount Pritchard.

Voter groupGRN %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Bonnyrigg-Mt Pritchard6.4357.5418,38823.92
Other votes8.5155.3315,17719.74
Two-party-preferred votes in Fowler at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Fowler at the 2010 federal election.


  1. Fowler is interesting. The 2011 State Election results would indicate that Fowler is roughly a 54-55/45 2PP prospect for Labor at the worst. The 2012 Council Elections in both Fairfield and Liverpool indicate that Fowler is well and truly for the taking. The results in Liverpool, in a Council election that should have been winnable for Labor were disappointing, to put it mildly.

    Until the Council Elections, I had Fowler as a probable hold for the ALP. In my view, Fowler should not be underestimated by either of the major parties. Failure to do the groundwork will be costly for both of them.

    Hayes is largely low-profile, and someone who I don’t rate highly. However, he has been successful in building up local credentials in both Werriwa and Fowler. He has to be considered the favourite, given this.

    The Liberals’ choice of candidate is uninspiring. If it’s the same Andrew Nguyen that has been on Fairfield Council, then I worry about how seriously the Liberals are taking this seat. Nguyen is completely unknown in Liverpool, while he is known in Cabramatta/Mount Pritchard, and to a lesser extent, in Bonnyrigg.

    This is the Liberal Party’s best-ever chance to win Fowler. The question is: how keen are they to win this seat? The early indications are not encouraging.

  2. The Liberals won’t win Fowler. Given the massive swing last time, there can’t be much more fat to be trimmed from the margin.

  3. A candidate who gets a 13 point swing in a balanced election year deserves a second chance. I agree with you MDMConnell in a normal election year there cant be much more of a swing. The only question is will this be a normal election year?

  4. I would have agreed with the analysis that in a normal election year, Fowler would not swing much more. That’s the same analysis that was used with Smithfield in 2011, and we know what happened there. I still have Fowler as a likely ALP hold, but it’s not going to be easy for Labor to retain this seat.

    Fowler is winnable for the Liberal Party. The real question is do they know this?

  5. Whats interesting is that in 2004 Fowler was Labor’s second safest seat with a 21.5 margin which is amazing considering with a 2.8 percent swing it could become marginal. This would be allot more shocking then what happened in Bennelong which always a 40 percent base Labor vote.

  6. There are a lot of seats in western Sydney that the Coalition can win. Fowler is not one of them.

  7. So, I was looking into Andrew Nguyen, in part because he shares his name with the LNP candidate for Oxley. What I found is a little… well, sad.

    About half way down the page, this woman, who I think ran for pre-selection for the Liberal party in the Division of McMahon, notes that people didn’t expect Andrew Nguyen to be pre-selected in this seat “because Andrew Nguyen had such poor communication skills and he was seventy years old.”

    If true, I think this may end up being one of the ALP’s safest seats after the election.

  8. Glen, that is an absolute doozy of an article.

    Confirms what I suspected, that it was the same Andrew Nguyen who has been sniffing around the Fairfield Council scene for over 20 years now. I thought there was no worse candidate than Diaz in Greenway, or Zaiter in Parramatta, but I’m prepared to revise my opinion now. In a seat that perhaps, at a stretch, was winnable in the very worst of the Gillard days, they had to choose one of the very worst of the Fairfield-Liverpool Liberals to run for this seat. The Liberals are going to get murdered in this seat, where they could perhaps have expected a swing to them.

    Forget 53/47, 52/48 2PP. Perhaps 65/35 might be the order of the day. There is just no way Nguyen is going to win the Sadleir/Ashcroft/Heckenberg/Busby/Green Valley/Cartwright/Miller vote. Absolutely no hope. The bloke has no profile in Liverpool, and is hardly the most visible Cabramatta Liberal-aligned person, either (yes, I know he ran for Mayor against Lalich at one stage, but still). What an utterly pathetic decision by the Liberal Party.

    Hayes, who is not a lot better, must be loving this. This will be a huge morale boost for the Liverpool Labor Party who need some good news desperately after their pathetic Liverpool Council election results.

  9. The former Lib candidate for this seat was involved in an incident during the State election that I believe has resulted in his card being marked “never again”, so he wasn’t going to be an option. As for Nguyen, he is literally the worst candidate possible for the Libs – he’s unknown outside his narrow support group, he has appalling communication skills, and he is far too old to be put into the cut-and-thrust of Canberra for the first time. They would have had much better odds putting up the persistent Dai Le, but apparently Nguyen’s funding commitment was breathtaking.

    An old fool and his money.

    Hayes is no shining light of talent, but he will win this seat. The swing at the last election was a high-water mark for the Libs, and electors in the Liverpool side of Fowler have had some time to digest how naive their choice has been to instal Mannoun as Mayor.

  10. The Liberal Party, on current boundaries, really need a Liverpool Liberal to run in this seat. The Fairfield/Cabramatta Liberal candidates are always going to have a hard time transcending the Liverpool side of things, unless they are already well known. Having lived in the Fairfield/Liverpool area from the moment I was born until hitting my mid-twenties, I am yet to see a Liberal that could meet that challenge for Fowler, other than the late Frank Oliveri (Oliveri’s Bus Lines) that ran the old Liverpool Speedway out on Wilson Road, where the Valley Plaza is now. Which is why the selection of Nguyen is monumentally bad. Dai Le would have had the same problem that Nguyen has on a lesser scale, being not that well known south of the lookout on Elizabeth Drive, and I doubt anyone in the Green Valley cluster of suburbs I used to live in would ever vote for her as a majority.

    Speaking of Dai Le, I’m not sure how popular she is among the Liberal Party at this stage. A lot of money was spent on Cabramatta in the state election, and was lost in what had to be called an upset, considering where her votes were coming from (Lalich’s strongholds in the west of the electorate). Let’s just say the Liberal Party were bitterly disappointed to not pick up Cabramatta in that election. I doubt she will ever be pre-selected for anything again by the Liberal Party.

    As for Mannoun, I was very surprised that he was elected Mayor in the first place, considering the bucketing that Paul Lynch gave him in the Parliament regarding certain matters. The Labor Party did not go hard on him in the Council Elections which truly surprised me. Why the Labor Party did not win a majority on the Council, given the previous Council’s poor performance really boggled my mind. It was one of the most unjust results for a long time.

  11. Liverpool Labor is tired and divided. Waller’s heart wasn’t in it, and after the way she was white-anted while Mayor by the coalition of Liberals and the “Independents” (one of whom was a former Liberal Mayor and another of whom handed out for the Libs at the State election – so much for “Independent”), nobody could blame her.

    The Libs took Liverpool at the Council election because many of the area’s voters are apathetic and didn’t bother to research the candidates. Apart from an obsession with a stadium (that will never be built) to be home to the Wanderers (who will never go there), the Libs will have little to show come the next LG election. Hopefully there’ll be other, better options.

    As far as Dai Le goes, she may have failed in the State poll but she did get on Fairfield Council, still commands a fair following in Cabramatta, and the demographic of the western part of the electorate is becoming more aspirational (and they tend to vote Lib – Lord knows why). Given her connections with the Lynn group don’t be surprised if she pops up yet again at the State election. Lalich won’t get a guernsey next time (there’s apparently some dirty plotting going on) and his rumoured replacement is unknown outside the party. Could be interesting.

  12. There was a “meet the candidates” forum at Smithfield RSL this week, and the notable absentee was Nguyen (and Ray King from the Lib’s McMahon ticket).

    Very embarrassing spectacle to see the empty Lib chairs, even if the event wasn’t well-attended.

    Strong rumour has it that Nguyen is dead against showing up for any of these events because he “doesn’t like speaking in public”.

    Pre-selection interviewing in the Liberal Party must be a quiet affair.

  13. Cabramatta not only very ethnic also very high % of workers in manufacturing Libs did very well to get so close.

  14. There was a high informal vote and a higher than average swing last time due to some silly seat-shuffling to accommodate Laurie Ferguson. This seat won’t be a problem for Labor now that Rudd is back.

  15. The Libs are joking if they think they can win Fowler. They have effectively surrendered the party’s chances to the whim of the branches who are stacked with ethnic groups whose money talks.
    Three years ago at McMahon they ran an Iraqi refugee with 4 years residency in Australia (and only passable comprehension of English) up against Chris Bowen. You just had to hear him attempt to answer questions by concerned citizens to know he is a stooge. The Party knew they couldn’t win so they allowed him to spend all his and his Assyrian friends’ money bankrolling a campaign they couldn’t win.
    Now at Fowler they have let the aged Vietnamese refugee mortgage his house (again) to the tune of $300,000 to convince his pre-selecting buddies that he was the right person for the job. They tapped former Liverpool Police Commander Ray King on the shoulder (he had nominated for pre-selection) and told him to pull out and run for McMahon as he had a better chance there. His very revealing story is told this weekend in the Independent Australia blog by his former best friend and now disaffected Liberal Party member the former priest Father Kevin Lee. who apparently (according to him) had been asked to nominate by non-less than the Party leader himself, fellow seminarian Tony Abbott (you can listen to a phone conversation on the blog above).
    Ray King appears to have some skeletons which are surfacing from their shallow graves and that would be the reason both he and Nguyen are being ordered by party heavies to avoid the media or any stand up opportunity for people to ask them the sort of questions that unhinged Jaymes Diaz in Greenway.
    Its very sad…

  16. Colours, I am highly impressed with the calibre of your knowledge of the Fairfield/Liverpool political scene. I thought that I had considerable knowledge of the area, and its political quirks, but your knowledge is just as strong, if not even more advanced than mine. Thank you for sharing your insights, it’s much appreciated.

    To be fair, Liverpool Labor probably still haven’t recovered from the Oasis debacle from a credibility perspective, which has not helped their chances in the last two Council elections. You say that Liverpool Labor is divided. Does this mean that Paul Lynch is losing his grip on the branches at long last?

    I’ve never been a fan of Wendy Waller, but she did really well to last the four years with a Council that can only be described as terrible. Even allowing for the apatheticness of the average voter in the Liverpool LGA (I feel terrible saying that, knowing at least one person in the Liverpool area that is not an apathetic voter at all), the debacle surrounding the proposed library closures in Casula and Green Valley (bad idea), and building a ‘super-library’ in Carnes Hill (good idea, but not at the expense of libraries that were built less than 20 years ago), should have seen the Liberal-Independent team kicked out. Not to mention the new, unsafe council offices in Liverpool, to top it off. I am certainly not confident that Mannoun and his team are the way forward for the great district that I used to live in, and hail from.

    Dai Le may have got on Fairfield Council, but it was only as an Independent Disendorsed Liberal, after the scandals involving Oliveri and Molluso. I’m still not convinced come 2016, that the Liberal Party will preselect her as a Council candidate, should they choose to run. Yes, she and, presumably, her husband, Markus Lambert, who ran as an Independent candidate for Cabramatta in the 1999 State Election (and did a great job, considering that Labor was so strong at the time), might be connected with the Lynn group, but I couldn’t see her getting a third go at Cabramatta, unless the boundaries were to change dramatically. The fact she wasn’t even considered for preselection for Fowler spoke volumes for me, especially at the height of the Gillard hatred and the success of the Liberal Party at the Liverpool Council elections.

    I don’t agree with you, Geoff Robinson, that the Liberals did very well to get so close in the State Election in Cabramatta. They weren’t really close at all, to be fair. Le managed to bleed votes off Lalich in his Serbian strongholds in the west of the electorate, which she had to do to win, then maintain her 2008 support east of the Cumberland Highway, and she was home and hosed. Lalich took votes off her in that part of the electorate. I had to look at the screen two or three times, to work out how Lalich had won, for there was no way that he should have won.

    If Lalich is disendorsed before 2015, I will be delighted, as that will mean one of the last links to the Phoung Ngo era on Fairfield Council will be gone (Lawrence White, who visited Ngo in jail, as well, is still on Fairfield Council). It will also help the ALP long-term in Cabramatta, in terms of fostering a cleaner image and, hopefully, more credible candidates will represent the area.

    As I’ve said in my last post on Greenway, it is disgraceful that the alternative candidates are not showing up for the meet and greets. For Nguyen, a man who ran for Mayor of Fairfield back in 2004, and managed to restrict Lalich to a mere 62% of the vote, this was even more inexcusable.

    Wasn’t the informal swing in Fowler due to the Latham factor on 60 Minutes? Just goes to show that Latham still has admirers in the area.

    The Liberal Party, in both McMahon and Fowler, have had a shocking history in selecting candidates for the federal seats. I remember the embarrassment of a Liberal candidate from Maroubra in 2001 for the seat of Prospect, not to mention running a candidate in 2007, who had been a previous member of the Australian Democrats for the same seat. Robert Jacobucci in 2004 for Prospect, and Rose Torossian in 2007 for Fowler were both really great candidates, especially in Torossian’s case, who campaigned really well, but they were against the historical grain, so to speak.

    As for Father Kevin Lee, he would not have beaten Chris Bowen in a million years, especially after he married his wife. McMahon is probably the most Catholic electorate in the country, and would not have tolerated the spectacle of an ex-priest, married, running for the Liberal Party, especially if that book of his, which I’ve read part of, had been released. Indeed, the small fact that he was not a local, and a priest in a different diocese (this fact is really important here) to begin with, much like the fact that Ray King’s work was in Liverpool would have counted against him.

    The best part of his article was the photo of Frank Oliveri and Joe Tripodi sitting together.

  17. Thanks DLH – I read everything and listen to everybody 🙂

    Joining the dots in this area isn’t hard to do, but the interwoven relationships between players in the major parties make the dots a little smudgy at times.

    You may be right about Le, but I think a lot of the resentment came from the behaviour of Lambert who I’ve heard is out of the frame. She has worked with Hockey, is very favoured by Lynn (whose comments about Nguyen make great reading), and is still tight with the local mandarins. Not sure where that will lead in coming polls, though – she isn’t exactly igniting the area with activity at the moment.

    The other complication is the Mollusso camp – no fans of the Smithfield bloc that supports Le even though they did help them get elected to Council. Remains to be seen if the Libs hate others more than they hate their own.

    Labor made a major error in putting Khoshaba up for Smithfield at the last State election. If they find a good candidate next time then the gormless Rohan should be a goner. Cabramatta could be more interesting – but this is a Federal blog, so more on that later …

  18. Labor didn’t win Fowler & McMahon, the Libs lost them by choosing inefficient candidates. Mr King was defending his reputation left right and centre & Nguyen, well.. who would have thought a 70 year old Vietnamese lacking in communication skills would be likely to win over the support needed to knock off Labor? Seriously, Libs should have selected better candidates…

  19. Not just a Gillard effect, but as previously stated, the seat shuffling around to accomodate Laure Ferguson. That’s settled down now. I’m not surprised that this swung back.

  20. Liberal, labor one these electorates. Both parties preselected candidates when the seats were winnable for both. Libs chose to put a candidate in McMahon who migt have a reputation problem and thought he would still be able to win the seat. The libs thought the fowler candidate could attract the Vietnamese voted. Labor campaigned in the seats and won them. Clearly any other candidate wouldn’t have been able to win either for the liberals

  21. I think you can’t confidently say that Observer. No campaign was mounted at all by Liberal in McMahon or Fowler. They just avoided answering questions. Anyone could have done better than Nguyen. I didn’t hear a peep out of him. Someone with a clear reputation in community leadership or a person with some drive could have got more votes than him. The mistake people make is thinking that just because Nguyen is Vietnamese they will all vote for him. I know lots of Vietnamese who don’t like Dai Le and that’s why she didn’t get into Cabramatta. Similarly, many Vietnamese (younger generation) fear old Andy was wanting to wind back the clock as the Liberal Party seem intent on doing… A lot of old Aussies didn’t vote for him either. Still trapped in racial xenophobia.

  22. Well liberal lackey, clearly you didn’t visist either electorate. Ray King was prided upon as a quality candidate by the libs and every poll had McMahon gone. There was a campaign by the libs in McMahon and it failed. Fowler, I would agree but the 8% swing to labor clearly shows that labor won that electorate. It was a great result for labor there and Chris Hayes and it was one labor achieved in there right. Clearly you are a liberal suporter but I can’t understand how you can not give credit to labor in a seat which was called as a liberal gain and a seat that labor bucked the trend massively and achieved an 8% swing to it

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