Eyes are on marginal Sydney seats as federal election looms

Central Sydney is shaping up as a key battleground in Election 2016, and on the frontline the two main parties have key figures they’re relying on.

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First, there is Labor’s candidate for Barton – located in Sydney’s inner southern suburbs – Linda Burney, who is hoping to take a seat currently held by the Liberals.

If she wins, she will become the first Aboriginal woman to hold a seat in the House of Representatives.

Ms Burney has told SBS Indigenous affairs will be high on her agenda if she is elected.

“Clearly, the social-justice issues,” Ms Burney said.

“I mean, how can it be that our jails are full of Aboriginal kids and Aboriginal adults? Thirty-five per cent of (places in) jails in this country are full of Aboriginal people when we are only four per cent of the population.”

State of the state

Changes to electoral boundaries last year mean Barton is now expected to become a Labor seat, with a projected margin of 5.4 per cent.

The seat is already being considered a Liberal Party loss, with MP Nicholas Varvaris yet to commit to running for re-election.

Ms Burney said her goal was to deliver Barton back to the Labor Party.

“The issue of education, I think, is going to be a major one with the election,” she said.

“Health is an issue – we’ve got St George Hospital here.

“But, there are also big issues around available green space. There’s a lot of development, and the development is probably outpacing the infrastructure.”

Despite the redistribution of boundaries, the Liberal and National parties still dominate in NSW, with 27 seats to Labor’s 20.

Key marginal seats

Barton is one of four marginal seats in Sydney which are vulnerable.

The seat of Banks, won by the Coalition after 30 years of Labor rule, has a slender 2.1 per cent margin.

In the outer western suburbs, the seat of Lindsay is held by a mere three per cent margin.

And in the Reid electorate, located in the inner western suburbs, it is a margin of 4.2 per cent.

Assistant Multicultural Affairs Minister Craig Laundy holds Reid, a seat renowned for its diversity.

Mr Laundy is quickly rising up the Liberal ranks, but he admitted that will not assure him victory.

“It doesn’t change the mindset,” Mr Laundy told SBS.

“I mean, we were elected back in 2013, and we’ve been campaigning nonstop for two-and-a-half years.

“When you’re in a marginal seat, you don’t have the luxury of, you know, taking anything for granted. You’ve got to stand, in three years’ time, on your record, which I will be doing.”

Reid was a Labor stronghold until Craig Laundy won it as part of Tony Abbott’s landslide win as Prime Minister in 2013.

The redistribution has brought in more suburbs with Liberal Party supporters, but, still, nothing is guaranteed.

Mr Laundy said there are a number of local issues he will focus on throughout his campaign.

“The key message here will be the economic narrative,” he explained.

“This is a culturally diverse place of Sydney. Everyone’s worried about not only their job, but jobs for their children. That’s why the economic message, I believe, will be the thing that this campaign is fought around in this local area.

“We’ve got to go to the people, with two-and-a-half years under the belt, and point to local achievements and ask would they endorse me for another three years.”

And for the people across the key Sydney electorates, opinion is split on what will decide their final votes.

“I think people need a politician to care about the community,” a voter in the suburb of Eastwood said.

“Trustworthy, and do the best for this country, I think, do the best they possibly can,” said a mother in the Reid electorate.

“They should support business-people, who pay a lot of taxes every year,” added an elderly man from the seat of Barton.

A gripping set of contests are brewing.

Bronwyn is ‘unforgettable’: Turnbull

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has led tributes for former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop after she was ditched in a preselection battle for the safe Liberal seat of MacKellar.

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Mr Turnbull said it was very disappointing for Mrs Bishop who has made an “enormous and indelible contribution” to Australian public life.

“She has been a magnificent figure on the national stage as a minister, as a member, as a senator, and a Speaker, Bronwyn has been unforgettable,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.

Mrs Bishop lost the backing of the party on Saturday to long-standing party member Jason Falinski.

Mr Falinski also beat out former prime minister Tony Abbott’s endorsed candidate, conservative Walter Villatora, who received just 12 votes in the second round and nine in the third.

After the vote Mr Falinski told reporters: “I do want to thank Bronwyn Bishop for her long service and dedication to the Liberal cause on the northern beaches”.

She may have caused Mr Abbott a headache when was prime minister over the infamous chopper-gate scandal, but he has also offered his thanks to Mrs Bishop for her long political service.

Mrs Bishop was stood down as Speaker last year after being engulfed in an entitlements scandal, notably a short $5000 helicopter trip paid for by the taxpayer.

Mr Abbott tweeted his thanks to Mrs Bishop for her service to the electorate, party and country for many years.

“She has been a warrior for good causes and deserves the gratitude of all members of the Liberal Party,” Mr Abbott said.

Senior Liberal George Brandis agreed that it has been a very substantial political career.

But he said this is one of many preselections around the country as older Liberals members retire, like Philip Ruddock in the seat of Berowra.

“This is a time of renewal,” Senator Brandis told Sky News.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the result shows how “severe and deep” the in-fighting in the Liberal Party is.

“Love her or hate her, she has been a formidable warrior,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.

“For the last 29 years the Liberal party has said she is a great person, now they have just dumped her.”

Independent senator Nick Xenophon wasn’t much of a fan, saying Mr Bishop was a pretty poor Speaker, incredibly partisan and not what a Speaker should be about.

“I’ve had two conversations with Bronwyn Bishop, I wish her well in her retirement. See ya later, I guess,” Senator Xenophon told ABC television.

Crows to bask briefly in win over Swans

Adelaide coach Don Pyke wants his AFL players to bask in their gripping 10-point win against Sydney – but only briefly.

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Pyke say while Adelaide’s victory against the Swans deserves to be celebrated, he’s already mindful of the next challenge: superpower Hawthorn at the MCG on Friday night.

“It’s important they enjoy and celebrate what they achieved,” Pyke said post-match after Adelaide’s 17.17 (113) to 15.13 (103) triumph on Saturday night.

“But it’s got to basically last for tonight. We have got six days into Hawthorn next Friday night and there is no bigger challenge than Hawthorn at the MCG.

“But it’s important they enjoy and reflect on it together and understand the collective bond that they’re creating is what can help create things on the field.

“It’s important they do that but we have got to move on pretty quickly because we have got a big game on Friday night.”

Adelaide’s clash against the Hawks looms as a blockbuster given the Crows’ hot early-season form – three wins from four starts.

The Crows trailed Sydney by a point at three quarter-time but kicked five goals to three in a rousing final term.

“We kept taking the game on which allowed us to keep the scoreboard ticking over,” Pyke said.

“It was the perserverance and consistency of our group … it’s hard to say `this guy was a standout’

“We are just getting a really good, even contribution of guys playing their role with a real team-first attitude. And that is what we have asked all along.

“We were able to find a way.

“A component of that is composure, a component is effort. To a man, when each was called at some point, they stood up and did what we wanted them to do.”