Fowler – Australia 2022

ALP 14.0%

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

Geography
South-western Sydney, in particular parts of Liverpool and Fairfield council areas. Fowler covers the Liverpool CBD and the suburbs of Cabramatta, Canley Vale, Lansvale, Bonnyrigg, Chipping Norton, Warwick Farm and Bossley Park.

History
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. Hayes has been re-elected in Fowler three times.

Candidates
Sitting Labor MP Chris Hayes is not running for re-election.

Assessment
Fowler is traditionally a safe Labor seat, but the circumstances of Kristina Keneally’s preselection and the entry of Dai Le into the race mixes things up.

Le is a member of a local council political faction that is dominant on Fairfield council, winning a supermajority at last year’s election, but she is not the most prominent figure. She also has a history of Liberal party membership and would be positioned to the right relative to her seat, although her politics are not entirely clear. She would not usually be a strong enough candidate to win the seat, but frustration about the parachuting in of an outsider as the Labor candidate could make the difference.

2019 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Chris Hayes Labor 45,62754.5-6.3
Wayne Blewitt Liberal 25,13730.0+4.3
Francesca MocanuChristian Democratic Party4,6435.5-0.1
Seamus Lee Greens 4,6335.5-0.7
Joshua JabbourUnited Australia Party3,6244.3+4.3
Informal12,62413.1+2.7

2019 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Chris Hayes Labor 53,54064.0-3.5
Wayne Blewitt Liberal 30,12436.0+3.5

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into three parts: central, south and west. The “south” area covers all those booths in the Liverpool council area, while those in Fairfield council area have been split into “central” and “west”.

The ALP won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 51.2% in the west to 72.5% in the centre.

Voter groupALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Central72.525,19330.1
West51.213,05415.6
South58.59,80611.7
Pre-poll66.526,68631.9
Other votes57.48,92510.7

Election results in Fowler at the 2019 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for Labor and the Liberal Party.

Become a Patron!

230 COMMENTS

  1. Nor do I, Tom…and BTW Chris Hayes (and his brother Gerard of the HSU) played no small part in the preselection ‘fuss’ by firing the first cheeky shots across the Party’s bow to start with. Like every other Comrade, Hayes knows very well how the system works and he knew what he was starting when he waved Tu Le’s name about so publicly. (My understanding – might be wrong – is that Tu Le is not all that much more of a ‘local’ than KK. I guess being of a vaguely appropriate skin hue is good enough for the likes of the HSU when there’s an obscure NSW factional/union/personal vendetta on the go…)

    Anyway, back OT: anyone who thinks Kenneally even ‘might’ lose Fowler is a tad wishful. Not on that margin and not with Dai Le’s run being so late, which is not just a disorganised squandering, it also risks looking opportunistic, self-serving, tyre-kicky. (Ditto Frank C’s backing: he’ll prolly lose her as many votes as he’ll win!) And, in any case, as many have pointed out, Le is hardly aligned with the latent electoral sentiment/history. (Indy actually is a good comparison – albeit contrasting: McGowan was essentially a violet-National, Haines has backed 90% of LNP legislation. For any Indy to get up, it takes a charismatic and/or established local Name, and/or a hated party incumbent within a dying government, and/or a gettable margin, and/or perhaps a lightning rod local issue. None of those parameters apply in Fowler.

    I agree that KK is no great campaigner, and too ruthlessly ambitious and superficial for my personal taste. But she does have a bit of rock-star cut through, she’s believably social conservative on Faith issues (critical in these seats), and she’s very good on TV. This all makes her strategically useful in the wider Western Sydney ‘war’ beyond her own battle – especially as Labor’s Chief #MeToo misogyny prosecutor of ScoMo. And let’s face it: knowing where all the as-yet un-outed Eddy skeletons are still closeted and thus holding Sussex St firmly by the unmentionables, she was always going to get this (or another) gimme if she didn’t get her Senate ticket way.

    I give her plenty of credit, TBH. It’s a big ask to head this far out of your comfort zone. Bennelong this ain’t, she could have easily wandered off to the corporate board/QANGO lush life…yet she still has the appetite and is giving it a full-on crack. I think for Labor strategically she would have been better aimed at Reid, she’d have swallowed that seat and then slowly made it another Grayndler/Sydney ALP lay-down going forward. Doubtful I s’pose that KK’s diva ego would have copped anything less than a 10%+ gimme…so here we are. But for Labor to blow 14% to a right-tilting Indy off a very short run, in the context of a flagging LNP government…it’s not going to happen. Or if it does, can Andrew Giles please turn off the light as he leaves the ALP Caucus room…

  2. Sorry, Ben, ‘papillons’ is me, Jack Robertson…am still sorting out my avatars stich!

  3. Labor has put up ads and sending text messages claiming that a vote for Dai Le is a vote for Scott Morrison and implying she is a Liberal candidate even though the Liberal Party has fielded their own candidate in the seat. Seems to me that they are very desperate and worried about Keneally winning here so have to resort to misinformation and scare tactics.

  4. Hi Dan,

    Dai Le’s husband is the President of the Cabramatta Branch and she has been involved with the Liberals despite her suspension in 2016, she is still very much a Liberal, she was very close to Gladys Berejiklian and even to Scott Morrison.

  5. Daily Telegraph article showing that Keneally struggling vs Le and Albo will be coming into the electorate to shore up her support. First time a party leader has actually come into the seat from memory ever since the seat was created in 1984.

  6. Yep. The Daily Telegraph reports Keneally’s primary is at 42%, that’s a drop of 13% since 2019. The TTP is 45% v 38% versus Dai Lee and 17% undecided. The usual seat poll caveats apply, plus no primary given for Dai Lee and the questions re Keneally living on Scotland Island and not in the electorate suggests of a lush poll.

    I hope Keneally lose but she won’t.

  7. If I’ve understood correctly, the Tele article is referring to a poll from three weeks ago (they only mentioned the sample date at the very end after most would have stopped reading).

    So… you would question why the Tele are running it now, as it’s clearly not intended as informative reporting…

  8. Recent ‘poll’ is a push exercise of very little value, but a long campaign has been good for independents of all sorts? Albanese visiting seat is significant but still expect Labor to hold.

  9. I spoke with a person who was on one of the PPVC yesterday handing our brochures (not for any of Lib / Lab / Le). Feed back was that Le was getting very positive response and KK very negative. Ms Le’s husband was at the PPVC and he was reportedly somewhat optimistic.

    Given I live on the North Shore and have been to Cabramatta about as many times as KK – ie not very often – I pretty much have no idea about anything in the seat (other than you can get some very good bbq duck near the Cabramatta train station – well worth the trip for those who like good food). Nevertheless I will be watching this seat very very closely on Saturday night. If Le gets up it might be for labor the start of the equivalent to the Teals and liberal seats. Or put another way – the end of the “safe seat”…..

    Best Pollster

  10. The Cabramatta branch of the Liberal Party reminds me of my own local Liberal Party branch: Sunnybank Hills. It too is “stacked” with Asians. In fact it is restricted ONLY to Asians. The lnp have tolerated this absolute anti white racism for years and won’t reform the branch- even after a local newspaper exposed the 2019 State Election lnp candidate as having stated in 2012 Cantonese in a lingual newspaper circulating only to Chinese “China should strike hard against Australia” Notwithstanding this expose, the lnp never acted either against this candidate or reformed the branch that put him up for election. So when I watch the video clips that Sky is now running of the Cabramatta fracas and her voice mail, it brings to my mind how these clowns act in my own area. Nothing chnages

  11. Eh, I wonder how much is transferable to other independent campaigns here; there’s a lot of specific circumstances in Fowler this election. Not only was Keneally was very controversially parachuted in, but Dai Le had a pre-existing profile in local government and has previously contested the state seat of Cabramatta – as an Independent in 2019 and as a Liberal in 2011 and 2008. And even where some of these factors are repeated elsewhere we don’t for instance see any buzz about Steve Christou’s chances in Parramatta.

    Contrast to the teals who for the most part are newcomers to the political scene and whose target is the Coalition leadership rather than individual members. That pattern can be applied anywhere in principle. Even if a mirror image type of independent movement emerged targeting Labor, it wouldn’t have much to learn or use from Dai Le’s campaign.

  12. Labor could be in a little bit of trouble here if the rumours and polls are to be believed. They really shouldn’t be either considering how safe the seat normally is. The Greens are the only ones in the seat preferencing Labor, so if it does come down to the wire KK will need to be high enough on primary vote so that the Greens prefs are enough to secure the win, because there doesn’t seem like there will be help coming from anywhere else.

  13. The fact that a last-minute candidate could potentially pull Labor’s primary vote in a safe Labor seat below 50% is pretty woeful. They should’ve picked a local, or someone more in touch with the local community, as many pundits have said. This is Labor’s “shot themselves in the foot” moment.

    Part of me thinks that Dai Le specifically entered to stop KK. If Dai Le loses, she might run for the state seat of Cabramatta or a nearby one in March 2023. She’d be a strong contender.

  14. @Dryhard – I was thinking that it creates a model on how to beat an incumbent.

    Indi / Mayo were first, similar approach applied to Warringah and now Wentworth, Mackellar, Higgins, Kooyong, GS etc.

    For the safe labor seats – the model is along the line of find a popular local politician with ethnic links, good grass roots campaign and away you go. Who knows how albo will be received after 3 years of having to make line ball decisions that upset people…. Rudd didn’t even make it to year 3…..

    Incidentally, if KK loses will it be a battle of D Le v T Le in 2025

  15. The point I’m trying to make is that finding a popular local politician with ethnic links and a good grass roots campaign is not something you can just decide to do where ever you like. You need to find such a candidate first, and you’re limited by where their local popularity lies. Conversely, the Voices campaign defined itself in more general terms – localism, climate action, and small-l liberalism – that any competent candidate could champion.

    There is also an argument to be made that McGowan et al. are qualitatively different from the teal independents in this cycle and so in that sense there might be something – a future independent campaign targeting a safe Labor seat and appealing to a Dai Le victory as evidence that this is a viable strategy. But I’m not really seeing an applicable “model” that could work on any given Labor incumbent. Not unless you have a ready-made Dai Le equivalent already up and running.

  16. @Pollster Labor probably would just parachute in another Anglo from somewhere else if KK loses. They didn’t learn their lesson with Parramatta even with so much scrutiny and criticism after KK was parachuted in Fowler so they won’t ever change.

  17. KK also doing her best with rhetoric on asylum-seekers to repeal Greens as well, but she is from dream team that gave us the 2007-11 NSW government. On Cabramatta state seat there will be a new Labor candidate in 2023.

  18. It’s good that there’s some spotlight on Fowler (Fairfield and Liverpool). Safe seats (of any political leaning) tend to be overlooked.

    I’m wondering – why is KK so popular within Labor HQ given her history in state politics?

  19. Votante, I’m guessing it’s a combination of:

    a) Assuming (rightly or wrongly) that any negativity towards KK from her time in state politics was nothing to do with her personally, and everything to do with the utter dysfunction of NSW Labor 2007-11. Maybe they even think she “saved the furniture” in 2011 and it could have been worse?

    b) A sort of quid-pro-quo, where she agreed to take one for the team in 2011 in exchange for being supported to bigger and better things later.

  20. If Labor loses this seat then they probably deserve it to be honest. I wish both parties would stop playing corrupt games with preselection and just nominate people who actually deserve it. How hard was it to pick a committed local Labor member? The seat wouldn’t even be discussed if that had been the case.

  21. I wonder if this is where a NZ style list system might have its merits.

    Parties could use the list for their ministerial/leadership prospects (or party hacks and mates, if you’re cynical), and perhaps get actual local members even in their safest seats.

  22. Laine, I agree completely. I understand that politics is a rough game, and KK is an effective Parliamentary performer. But if both major parties continue to over rule the preselection choices of local branches, then pretty soon they won’t have local branches to donate, fundraise, etc. Their existing members will go elsewhere to someone who appreciates their efforts and gives them a voice.

  23. Laine. KK is inspiring and PM material. What seat was she supposed to run in? I agree parachuting candidates is wrong and this is why Tanya the Terrible should have retired and allowed KK to run instead because at least KK is on the right-faction and not the loony left.

    If she ran in Parramatta or Hunter she would win but would lose when the coalition win big again. And the idea of a safe seat is that you can be a senior minister without worrying about not having a seat in parliament.

    Anyone who criticises KK doesn’t know what they are talking about, she only lost badly in 2011 because the government was in for a long time and Julia Gillard. The landslide defeat would have happened no matter who the premier was, Rees, Iemma or even Carr.

  24. The ALP were going to have a landslide defeat but it would not have have been as bad under Rees (i.e. possibly keeping the ALP primary over 30% and/or ALP the 2PP over 40%, consequently saving a few more seats). The leadership change made most of the problems with that government worse in a way the public noticed. That leadership challenge reflects badly on everyone who backed it and by agreeing to be the face of it, Keneally forever tarred herself with its problems in the minds of many voters.

    Keneally becoming ALP leader would significantly reduce the ALP`s chances at winning the following election. Her winning a lower house seat would increase the risk of this and so is not a good idea for the ALP. Therefore Dai Le winning would probably be good for the ALP in the medium run and the long run.

    Keneally would be less competitive against the Greens in Sydney, compared to Plibersek, risking the seat.

  25. Ed Husic was pushed aside from a spot in the ministry for Keneally. John Watkins was pushed aside in Bennelong for Keneally. Tu Le was pushed aside in Fowler for Keneally. And despite the sweeping away of so much talent in the Labor Party for her, what contribution has she made to politics other than an entrenched Liberal government in NSW and endless controversy? I have a favourable opinion of most Labor politicians, but Keneally is truly despicable. The Labor Party and indeed the country will be better off once she’s out of politics.

  26. Daniel, I’m curious as to who exactly Keneally is inspiring to. White people who feel they deserve preferential treatment over deserving ethnics? Overly ambitious people who choose power over principles and steamroll everyone else out of their way? I cannot remember her ever sticking consistently to a principle. Even on refugees, where she gets a lot of media attention, she’s happy to pose for pictures with the Murugappan family and make it look like she cares, while going on to demand offshore detention, cost recovery from refugees and other cruel measures.

  27. Most of us are disgusted by the ‘parachuting’ and ‘captain’s picks’ at the expense of locals who the rank-and-file want (regardless of the party). That’s why KK has attracted so much criticism and spells desperation. It’s as if she’s a part of the Labor establishment. Add to that, Fowler is a multi-religious, multicultural community and the median household income is far lower than average. It’s a more complex electorate.

    If Labor HQ really wanted her in, why not Cunningham (Wollongong)? It’s further away but it’s more middle-class and less multicultural. I guess that Labor HQ didn’t expect a strong, independent challenger to pop up from out of nowhere in Fowler. In theory, this could’ve happened anywhere.

  28. Another Comment to add to the collection.
    Daniel, as someone with vivid memory of NSW Labor up to the 2011 State Election, I can tell you that KK is horrendous as a politician and as a person. She has been promoted up far beyond her ability and was made Premier as a move by NSW Labor Right to turf Nathan Rees because he was going to try and weed out Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi, Ian MacDonald and John Della Bosca. On top of that, her campaign was shallow and lacking any real attempt to show that she would clean up Labor. So much so that I think her direct performance saw 4 seats fall to the Liberal Party that should never had fallen, being Campbelltown, Smithfield, Newcastle and Charlestown. On top of that, they nearly lost Cabramatta (ironically, to Dai Le), Maroubra (Saved by Michael Daley’s Personal Vote), Kogorah, Macquarie Fields (Saved by Dr Andrew MacDonald’s Personal Vote) and Toongabbie (Saved by Nathan Rees’s Personal Vote).

    Then, her attempts at dog-whistling in the Bennelong By-Election failed to cut through and she ended up being drafted into Federal Parliament via the Senate anyway, showing that NSW Labor Right were hell-bent on getting her in, no matter what the cost to local members, and now this.

    She lives up my way, in a place called Scotland Island and I have seen her around town as well a lot. Let’s just say that what you see in Parliament is a pretty accurate reflection of what she is like in real life.

  29. Labor really should have left KK in the Senate and stuck with Tu Le in Fowler. They’ll probably hold onto the seat but look like blowing their margin in the process, making keeping it next time a much harder task. They may have turned a really safe seat into a marginal for no good reason.

  30. Kristina Keneally condemned the NSW Liberal government for considering progressive reform to drug laws.

  31. The love affair Sussex Street has with KK, is truly bizarre. She is the definition of falling (or failing) upwards. You’d think after the 2011 debacle, you wouldn’t want anyone associated with that in local council, let alone federal Parliament. And yet KK went from being star candidate in Bennelong, which she lost (admittedly a difficult task) to filling Sam Dastyari’s vacant seat, to now being high up in the ranks of the Opposition. What on earth do they see in her? At least this time Albo hasn’t paraded her around the country like Shorten did. If she really needed to be catered, couldn’t Labor promise her the ambassadorship to the US, or something like that? Far away and out of sight.

    Before 2011 state Labor in NSW did better than federal Labor. They were competitive in areas where federal Labor struggled in, and in what would be marginal battlegrounds in federal elections, were safe for Labor at the state level. After 2011, this has reversed, federal Labor does better than state Labor. This is on Keneally. Rees would have lost, but not to that level.

    That being said I do think she’ll hold in Fowler. Labor will do worse here than in other parts of Western Sydney, but I think Dai Le and Frank Carbone left it a bit too late. If Labor loses and she wins, I can honestly see her trying for Opposition Leader, and that is an awful prospect.

  32. From what I can see, Chris Bowen played a big part in KK’s move to Fowler. But you can see Chris Bowen is now distanced himself from KK because of the swing against KK. I believe KK will hold Fowler with a very small margin. The question is, will Labor learn from this lesson and make someone accountable for the stupid fractional interest decision rather than ALP interest as a whole. Further, during the last council election, labor was defeated from traditionally 7-8 seats to 3, has head office ever ask why and who should be respondsible for the failure?

  33. Reports on Twitter of robocalls reminding voters of Dai Le’s former Liberal affiliations, so Labor must be at least a little spooked here.

    Still, it’s the right message to bring this home for Keneally, and I think she will.

    If Dai Le does well, I think she’ll be the first of many more socially conservative but otherwise centrist, non-white, independents popping up at future NSW and federal elections to fracture Labor’s voter coalition. Le could be a template for the mirror image of the teal indies.

  34. To Keneally’s credit, she did actually move to Liverpool and has every chance of building rapport for future elections. It won’t be easy for her to manage being a strong local MP as well as a front bencher, but Keneally has already done more than several other major party MPs to commit to her electorate (e.g. Ged Kearney, Mark Dreyfus and Clare O’Neil have never lived in their electorates in Victoria, and have no intention of moving).

  35. Various categories IMO

    * Candidates who live in their electorate
    * Candidates who used to live in their electorate but were redistributed out (e.g. Adam Bandt)
    * Candidates who never lived in their electorate but live in close and similar electorate (Kearney lives in Wills)
    * Candidates who live nowhere near their electorate but could feasibly serve it (O’Neil lives in Melbourne, and deserves criticism for living in an affluent seat while representing a working class seat, but it’s a commute to her SE Suburbs seat)
    * Ghost candidates, just making up numbers.

    Of course it’s a pretty lame argument. It makes sense to bring up Bridget McKenzie living in Elwood, or Canavan being from the Gold Coast and then being a consultant, when talking about how Nationals aren’t really serving the bush and how their farmer/miner cosplay is bullshit. But it isn’t really a standalone argument.

    The main issue with Keneally is the sense of entitlement, which fits her media image and history . She wanted to move from the upper to lower house, so she gets preselected for a “safe seat” in an area she had nothing to do with.

    Bennelong 2017 was different. She lived nearby in a similar enough area, and closer than her opponent. It was an uphill battle marginal seat, and she was not an active politician for 6 years.

    But since her senate preselection, and front bench job (very publicly taken from Ed Husic), she’s part of the furniture again and this move reeks of entitlement. It plays into a narrative that Labor takes their Western Sydney safe seats for granted, and that Keneally isn’t likely to be a good local MP or respond to community concerns.

  36. The continued nurturing by the party of Kristina Keneally is something that makes sense only to some within the right faction of NSW Labor. Its quite astonishing how other good candidates are simply shoved aside to make way for KK wherever she goes. If any Labor members can explain this then please do.

  37. The state seats of Fairfield, Cabramatta and Liverpool all elected Labor MPs in the 2011 state election. If Labor didn’t lose in this area then, they certainly won’t lose now, even with the unhappiness about KK being parachuted in.

  38. KK might just win because of:
    1. Rusted-on Labor voters
    2. Voters who see it as a Morrison vs Albanese contest.
    3. Voters in Liverpool Council who are unfamiliar with Dai Le (Deputy Mayor of Fairfield).

  39. Wow, I take back what I thought I didn’t think Le would get enough support in a safe Labor seat.

    As a Labor supporter I think it’s a good result. Hopefully the days of major party apparatchiks parachuting in candidates ends

  40. Dissapointed but I would like to congratulate Dai Le on her victory. I do hope she is serious about her independent credentials and IF Labor is short of a majority, I do hope Labor ask her for confidence and supply. It could help Labor build back trust here they lost.

    Tu Le will almost certainly run here next time for Labor but Dai Le would be in a strong position to hold on as an incumbent.

    Labor will really kick themselves if they win 75 seats, if they had chosen Tu Le then it could have been 76.

  41. Pretty amazing result considering Dai Le only launched her run after the campaign had started.

    Looking at some of the safe Labor seats in northern and western Melbourne, where Labor’s vote fell quite badly to ~40% but didn’t coalesce around any one alternative candidate….her win looks like a template for Independents being able to hoover up the discontented anti-Labor vote.

  42. This was one upset I didn’t expect in what has otherwise been a very good election night for me betting-wise. Anyway, parachuting candidates won’t end, but usually parachuted candidates aren’t a clear problem like here. Repacholi, for instance, is a parachute but the electorate seems to be fine with him as a representative. What it would hopefully give pause to is parachuting a candidate who is blatantly unfitting.

  43. Repacholi wasn’t really a parachute -he was at least from the general area. Plus he looks like the target voter demographic.

    KK was neither of those things, although I admit I thought she’d scrape through. And indeed it’ll be pretty embarrassing for the ALP if they land on 75 seats…

    Whatever happens, KK gets the Sophie Mirabella Memorial Trophy for most embarrassing loss in a winning team.

  44. On Big Dan Repa – another key difference is he isn’t an “obvious career politician” like KK or the typical paratroopers. Captain’s Pick, but not a parachuter.

  45. @Adda. Repacholi was not really a parachute, he was Albo’s captain’s pick over the other candidates in Hunter, but he was a local, so he isn’t really comparable to Keneally.

    I didn’t expect this result, but it was one that Labor deserved. It was always a ridiculous decision to parachute Keneally in, and they paid for it. Had Tu Le ran, Fowler would have been safe as houses.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here