Matheson succeeded Liberal incumbent Pat Farmer
Following the redistribution of Macarthur in 2015, the seat lost two predominantly Liberal areas — Camden and Narellan — to Hume, that were replaced by areas from Campbelltown Council, a Labor catchment. This reduced the Liberals' margin from 11.4 % to 3.3 % so it will be a closely watched seat.
The Macarthur electorate is held by Liberal MP Russell Matheson and covers most of the city of Campbelltown and a small part of Camden council area. Recently it has been affected by a redistribution of electoral boundaries, losing a number of Liberal Party strongholds. Macarthur is now a marginal seat that no party can take it for granted. A swing of only three per cent to Labor will see the Liberals lose the seat.
Matheson was first elected as the Federal MP for Macarthur in 2010, continuing the Liberal Party's grip on the seat since since 1995. At the 2013 election, Matheson was able to increase the Liberal margin with an 8.3 per cent swing. However, this will be largely wiped out by the redistribution. Macarthur has a lot a number of Liberal voting localities. Before the redistribution Labor needed a 11.4 per cent to take the seat. Now, a 3.3. percent swing is all that's required.
Labor has endorsed local pediatrician Dr. Michael Freelander to take on Matheson. Freelander says he was inspired by friend and state Labor politician Andrew McDonald.
According to Opposition leader Bill Shorten, Labor's hopes of forming a government hinge on Freelander being elected as the member for Macarthur.
“If he wins, chances are Labor wins. He is instrumental not just to the future here (in Macarthur) but to the future of this country,” Mr Shorten said.
Also in the mix are the Nick Xenophon Team’s Richard Bakoss and the Greens’ Ben Moroney.
Given its vulnerability for the Liberals and reality for Labor, Macarthur is seeing multiple visits from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with Deputy Leader Julie Bishop also making an appearance in an effort to shore up their party's position. Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten have made identical promises to spend $50 million upgrading a notoriously dangerous road in the area.
Macarthur is a mortgage belt area, with a high percentage of young families and dominant small business demographic. The average age of 35, with a low proportion of senior citizens,makes education a big issue locally. But the environment, especially concerns about the impact of coal seam gas project on residents' health, are also trending.
Matheson however has some loyalty among the locals.
Jessica Majcic, a 20-year-old psychology student from the area says she won’t be voting Labor.
“The development of Campbelltown has been really good. It has a huge stigma about being an unsafe place — it’s really not that bad,” Majcic said . “Russell Matheson has been in for a couple of terms and everything has been fine, so I’d vote for him."
Kim Elmes, a resident of Campbelltown for 29 years, says Bill Shorten’s slaying of two previous leaders is still too fresh in voters’ minds. “We get fined if we don’t vote and yet it doesn’t matter [that] they did it to [Kevin] Rudd, they did it to Julia Gillard, they did it to Tony Abbott. They put in who they want,”