Western Sydney marginal seats vital for September election win

Marginal seats across western Sydney could become an election battle ground in coming months after Julia Gillard’s announcement of a September 14 federal election.

Sydney’s west and south-west contains seven of the most marginal seats in the country.

The government holds the seat of Greenway, which includes suburbs in Blacktown by less than 1 per cent.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey kicked off the Parramatta campaign during a visit in October of last year, where Julie Owen currently holds the seat by 4.4 per cent.

Mitchell MP Alex Hawke, who holds the safe Liberal seat across The Hills region, said calling the election early was primarily about providing longevity for the current government.

‘‘The government have made a pragmatic decision in the hope they can turn the polls around before September,’’ Mr Hawke said.

‘‘I think announcing the election date for eight months away is less about the good of the country and more about ensuring they’re not forced into calling an early election throughout the year if any issues do arise.''

He confirmed he would recontest the seat and said his primary campaign platform would be to ensure more infrastructure and services are rolled out in the Mitchell electorate.

‘‘With a hung parliament the focus tends to be on the marginal seats which means electorates like Mitchell miss out.’’

It will be a fierce contest in Greenway, where Labor MP Michelle Rowland holds the seat by less than 1 per cent.

She said announcing the election early made little difference to her.

‘‘I’m always out there knocking on doors and delivering for the community,’’ Ms Rowland said.

‘‘I think announcing it now gives certainty to when it will be and stops any speculation.''

Ms Rowland said the election would be fought on policy with Labor’s focus on health and education resonating in the community.

Former Blacktown councillor Allan Green, who was endorsed by the Christian Democratic Party, will also contest the seat as will Bob Katter’s Australian Party candidate Jamie Cavanough.

Parramatta MP Julie Owens said she wasn’t surprised the election was announced for September.

‘‘I think it’s better to end the speculation and announce it now so we can focus on how to govern rather than the community always wondering when [the election] will be,’’ Ms Owens said.

‘‘I’ve won the seat from a negative position twice so I’m never confident — it’s going to be hard — but I guess the key message is for residents to get a good idea of what both sides of government are supporting and go out and vote.’’

She said the big issues would be education, jobs and growth, climate change and the roll-out of the National Broadband Network.

She will be up against the Liberal candidate for Parramatta Martin Zaiter.

Mr Zaiter called the early election announcement a ''stunt'' to distract voters.

He said the election would be a "tough" contest.

''Every day I meet people who are struggling with cost of living pressures....[and] tax increases are forcing small businesses to the wall, the carbon tax is forcing up electricity prices. ''

He said there was a groundswell of support for change.

The Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd said he hoped the early announcement did not distract the government's focus from delivering policies for long-term growth and jobs.

‘‘Both major political parties will be tempted to make rash promises to simply win the election, but with rising costs and many businesses under pressure from the high dollar, policies must be economically responsible and support growth and jobs over the long term,’’ Mr Shepherd said.

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