Grayndler has been held by the ALP since its establishment in 1949 despite having the second-highest Greens vote nationwide, and is the second smallest electorate (in terms of physical size) in the country. The median age is 36, and it is a diverse electorate, with 53,683 residents born overseas and 49,722 speaking a language other than English at home. Key areas of concern include infrastructure development, education, public transport, climate change and LGBT rights.
The inner Sydney seat of Grayndler, named after Edward Grayndler, a member of the NSW Legislative Council (1921 to 1934 and 1936 to 1943), was established in 1949, and has been a Labor stronghold ever since. Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s son, Tony Whitlam, served as Grayndler’s MP from 1975 to 1977.
According to the 2011 census, taken before the latest redistribution, 147,241 people live in Grayndler, with 104,808 of them of voting age. The median age of the electorate is 36, and there is an average of 2.4 people per household.
Grayndler skews young and more left-wing (with the second highest Green vote in the country) than many neighbouring electorates. Antony Green noted that “the seat now covers most of two state seats currently held by the Greens” [Balmain and Newtown]. Neighbouring electorates include Reid, Watson, Barton, Kingsford Smith and Sydney.
Incumbent Anthony Albanese has been the member for Grayndler since 1996, when he replaced Jeannette McHugh. In the 2013 election, Albanese won with 47.2% of first preference votes, with the Liberal candidate receiving 24.7% and the Greens candidate 23.3%. This election saw a 0.3% swing towards the Liberals and away from the ALP.
Grayndler has always been held by the ALP, and with the electoral redistribution, the Unity Hall Hotel in Balmain where the party was founded in 1891 now lies within its boundaries.
State electorates within Grayndler include Canterbury, Heffron, Summer Hill, Balmain, Newtown and Strathfield, and the local councils within Grayndler are Ashfield Council, Marrickville Council, Canterbury Council and Leichhardt Council.
As a result of the redistribution of federal electorates that occurred in late 2015, Grayndler lost parts of Ashfield, Tempe, Newtown, Camperdown, Croydon and Marrickville, and gained Rozelle, Birchgrove and Balmain. The AEC describes the boundaries of Grayndler as such:
“Bound by the Parramatta River in the north and the Sydenham Bankstown Railway line and the Goods Railway line in the south. To the east follows the Leichhardt Municipal Council boundary to Parramatta Road, along Kingston Road, Main Suburban Railway line and part of the Marrickville Council boundary. In the west follows Canterbury Road, Prospect Road, Liverpool Road, Frederick Street, Parramatta Road, Iron Cove Creek then along the western bank of Iron Cove.”
Grayndler is a markedly diverse electorate, with 53,683 residents born overseas and 49,722 speaking a language other than English at home. It has many families – 41,146 people in the area have children under the age of 15 at home – as well as singles, particularly students who attend the nearby University of Sydney and University of Technology, Sydney, as well as the many TAFEs in the area.
The pressure towards higher-density living has been felt in Grayndler, with developments such as the Lewisham Towers, the Westconnex project and the Summer Hill Flour Mill receiving substantial backlash from residents.
State issues of significant enough concern to Grayndler residents that they could influence their votes at a federal level include over-development and public transport. The expansion of the Light Rail was welcome, although many feel the line could extend further into Haberfield and Ashfield. Development of the Westconnex, with no corresponding investment in public transport, is a sore spot for many. Another issue that receives a lot of attention from residents is education funding, and the implementation of the Gonski reforms as initiated by the Gillard government in 2014.
Broader issues are also important to voters in Grayndler, issues such as climate change; responsible and sustainable environmental management; marriage equality for LGBT couples, and improved treatment and onshore processing of asylum seekers.
In 2013, Albanese described what he felt were the electorate’s top three priorities as investment in schools, investment in infrastructure for the future, and taking action on climate change. The Greens candidate Hall Greenland’s suggestions were remarkably similar: funding accessible education, a safe climate future and green jobs, and a more caring society and economy.
Jim Casey, leader of the Fire Brigade Union, will run this year for the Greens, against Albanese and an as-of-yet-unannounced Liberal candidate.