Labor’s choice of candidate for Parramatta an elusive force

By DI BARTOK

WHILE the Labor local rank and file members are still fuming over Anthony Albanese’s choice of candidate for Parramatta, many are conceding that the he might still strike a chord with the electorate.

Andrew Charlton, with his smiling, well-attired demeanour, certainly is a man of achievement and, if elected, will prove to be a force, in Opposition or Government.

He has been given the nod by retiring Parramatta MP Julie Owens, who, though she backed rank and file favourite Durga Owen, has conceded that Mr Charlton would make a formidable member of parliament.

But, is the economist who advised Kevin Rudd during the Global Financial Crisis and lives in a Bellevue Hill mansion the best fit for a diverse area like Parramatta?

As Charlton and his team traipse the electorate during the campaign, people’s perceptions have been changing.

A Labor source, who also was against the Opposition Leader choosing an out-of-towner, told the Times that Charlton has been charming voters and would appeal especially to the northern end of the electorate.

“Not so sure about the more ethnically-diverse southern end, though,” he said.

He wants to give back

Labor Parramatta councillor Pierre Esber, initially against “a multi-millionaire from the East” contesting the seat has changed his tune after meeting Charlton.

“Look, there are MPs who live out of their electorates but what matters is their determination to do the best by their constituents,” Esber told the Times.

“He wants to give back, he told me, and feels Parramatta is a good fit for him. He has the credentials to be a Minister and it is time that Parramatta had a seat in Cabinet.”

One of the interesting things about the Parramatta electorate – in its long history, it has only had white Australian MPs, even though those from other ethnic groups have been fielded as candidates.

Those who have held Parramatta, Labor or Liberal, have worked hard to engage with everyone in the electorate to hold the seat.

Julie Owens, who is retiring after 18 years in the seat, has always enjoyed a good relationship with the various ethic communities, often attending Indian events in colourful saris.

It is a demanding electorate, with residents, community groups and the business community expecting to see the local MP at their events.

Luckily, Charlton would look as good in an Indian tunic as he does in a suit.

Albanese is unrepentant on his “captain’s choice”, saying Charlton would be an ‘outstanding’ MP.

“I think Andrew will be able to not just relate to all of the people of Parramatta, but be an outstanding representative for them.”

However, while active out on the hustings, with updates on his Facebook page, Charlton has proved elusive to journalists. His campaign office did not return calls.

Image: Labor’s Parramatta candidate: Andrew Charlton.

 

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