BY DI BARTOK
WHILE the Labor vote was slightly down in Parramatta, out-of-towner Andrew Charlton managed to win the seat for the new Federal Government.
Liberal candidate Maria Kovacic put up a good fight, with a 1.1 per cent swing in the seat that has been Labor since 2004.
Julie Owens resigned after 18 years as Parramatta MP, paving the way for fresh blood. She had held the seat on a 3.5 per cent margin.
Charlton was initially a controversial choice, an Easter Suburbs millionaire and a Kevin Rudd economics adviser, chosen by Anthony Albanese against the wishes of many rank and file Labor members.
But, as Labor elder Pierre Esber points out, Charlton’s “charm” won over not only local Labor members but the diverse community.
“He has the smarts and is clearly headed for the Ministry and I think Parramatta voters like the idea of having someone not only in Government but at the top table,” Esber told the Times.
“It is important to have someone like that representing Parramatta, which is, after all, the gateway to Western Sydney.”
Esber, a long-time Parramatta councillor, noted at the Ermington Public School booth where he worked on election day, that support for Labor was coming from the 18-25s and the 60-75 year olds.
Maria Kovacic also was chosen by the Liberall machine rather than rank and file and had only four weeks to campaign.
“I was chosen on April 2 and hit the ground running from the 4th. I gave it my best shot, working every day on the campaign. If I had had another four to five weeks, I might have had more of a chance,” Kovacic told the Times
Kovacic was proud that she won in booths where Liberals have not won before – such as Toonbabbie, Westmead and Merrylands.
Kovacic was considered a top candidate for the Liberals, a businesswoman and co-founder of the successful Western Sydney Women inspirational group.
Former Liberal lord mayor of Parramatta, Bob Dwyer was disappointed that Kovacic was not given more time to campaign.
He also was critical of “the way the Party has not engaged with the various ethnic communities the way Labor already has done”.
“The Chinese community for example – we should have been making better contact with them over the years,” Dwyer said.
“But Maria did a great job and she managed a slight swing to the Liberals.”
Greens Phil Bradley managed a 1.5 per cent swing and the United Australia Party managed close to a 3 per cent swing, an indication that the electorate was tired of government restrictions during Covid lockdowns.
High profile independent, former Mayor of Cumberland Steve Christou did not fare as well as expected, with only 2215 primary votes.
Image: Andrew Charlton.