Current Elected Member for McMahon - Shadow treasurer MP Chris Bowen. Photo courtesy of abc.net.au.
Chris Bowen is the Shadow Treasurer.
During Labor’s reign, he moved across several portfolios, including Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs, Minister for Human Services, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Affairs, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Minister for Small Business and finally Treasurer.
Despite having a history of being a safe Labor seat, McMahon is now a marginal Labor seat.
The area is home to a variety of ethnic groups. Less than one-fifth of households in some areas of McMahon are English speaking, whereas other areas in McMahon are predominantly English speaking. As a result there is also a wide variety of incomes in this electorate.
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More than any other federal electorate, McMahon covers the largest geographic area of Western Sydney suburbs with some 93 000 eligible voters.
Established in 2010, McMahon is named after Australia’s twentieth prime minister, Sir William McMahon. Boasting a diverse, multicultural population, McMahon was revised from the old seat of Prospect after the 2009 redistribution. Its boundaries were again re-determined in February 2016.
Under both Prospect and McMahon, only three members, all from the Labor party, have held the seat since it was first contested in 1969.
McMahon today is home to nearly 170 thousand people, with an average age of 35 years. Over half of those in the electorate are Australian-born.
Other residents include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, along with Sydney’s broadest mix of cultures – people from Iraq, the Philippines, Lebanon, New Zealand, Italy, Malta, England, Cambodia, China, India, Croatia, Fiji and Chile.
Labor member and shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, has represented McMahon since 2004, and will re-contest the seat at the July 2 election. The only other candidate to contest the seat will be Milan Maksimovic, for the Christian Democrats.
Maksimovic’s campaign is aligned with his firm Christian values and views. He is an outspoken advocate against the Safe Schools program, believing the program should not be taught in schools.
“As a father it is my responsibility to protect my child's innocence. We cannot be fooled. There is nothing safe about the Safe Schools program,” Maksimovic said in a recent Facebook post.
More than 50% of the electorate call English their second language. Other languages spoken at home include Arabic, Assyrian, Vietnamese, Spanish, Italian, Croatian and Cantonese. The majority cite Catholic as their religion.
McMahon has a diverse mix of business and activities. The real estate boom has brought big increases in building and construction along with new opportunities for wholesale, retail, light manufacturing and transport businesses. Health care and social assistance industries are also on the increase due to continued population growth. Clerical and administrative workers show up as the majority of white collar workers while manufacturing employs the greatest overall number of workers.
Almost 35% of McMahon residents own their own home, while nearly 40% are in the process of buying. Rental homes in the electorate are occupied by the least number of people.
With the huge growth in most of McMahon’s suburbs, there are community concerns that available services and infrastructure will not be able to cope with inevitable future population increases.
“Public hospital services are really lacking. They are in need of more nurses. It’s quite disgusting to be honest,” said Adrianna Cavalier, who frequents Blacktown Hospital with her father for his kidney dialysis treatment.
These services are vital to her father’s health and to her family's everyday life. Public hospital funding needs urgent attention, explained Cavalier. “The population is growing, but the services are not,” she said.
Other regions of the electorate are experiencing issues of a different nature; the worrying increase in the ICE drug addiction epidemic.
This concern has become all too familiar in many suburbs of Greater Western Sydney.
“I know of many young teenagers in the area affected by ICE, it’s really terrible,” said Amy Ross, a resident from St Clair.
While there are some services in the area that offer assistance for people with an addiction, more needs to be done to tackle the problem in terms of the suppliers to these youth, explained Ross.
“I think there needs to be more campaigns to track down the drug dealers, to crack down on them. ‘Dob in a dealer’, they are a big part of the problem,” said Ross.
More police around St Clair and surrounding suburbs are necessary to keep watch of local youth and keep the streets safe, emphasised Ross.
“Lately I’m worried about the number of young… men forming gangs and causing trouble,” she said.
Maksimovic, weighed in on Ross’ concerns. “Australia is very rich country with many opportunities and many universities but it is still hard for many migrants in our area to have a good start. Government, police and people from the community need to work together to help young people integrate in Australian culture,” he said.
Large areas of the electorate are experiencing infrastructure and housing development. Major upgrades in roads and transport services are constantly evolving to include links with the adjacent Hills district. McMahon’s North West outer fringes around Blacktown are also pushing for better connections to the North-West Rail Link, due for competition in 2019.
While McMahon has always been a Labor stronghold, election watchers have identified McMahon as an early indicator of overall national voting trends.