Werriwa has been a safe Labor seat for 70 years. Laurie Ferguson was the member since 2010 (and, before that, the member for Reid since 1990) but announced his retirement in January 2016. The seat was held by former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, from 1952 to 1978, and by former Labor leader Mark Latham, from 1994 to 2005.
Located in the south-western suburbs of Sydney, the Federal electorate of Werriwa has remained a safe Labor seat for 70 years. Laurie Ferguson has been the federal member for Werriwa since 2010 but announced his retirement in January this year. In the past, Werriwa has been held by many high-profile politicians,including Gough Whitlam from 1952 to 1978, and Mark Latham from 1994 to 2005.
While the 2013 election saw a 4.5% swing against Ferguson, the electorate is still a Labor stronghold. A recent redistribution shifted Werriwa north, adding Green Valley and other parts of the Liverpool local government area from Fowler, and transferring Minto, Ingleburn, and St Andrews into Macarthur. This has caused the Labor margin to rise from 2.2% to 6.5%, making Werriwa safer for the ALP.
Ferguson has championed Anne Stanley, a former Liverpool councillor, to take his place. Stanley was preselected unopposed as Labor's candidate. She has been a Liverpool councillor for eight years and aligns with Ferguson’s values. Stanley supports “equality of opportunity through high-quality education, a properly-resourced healthcare system and enhanced opportunities for reasonably-paid, secure employment".
The Liberal Party was comparatively slow to nominate a candidate for the seat. On 24 March, more than two weeks after Anne Stanley was endorsed by the ALP, the Liberals announced that the current mayor of Liverpool, the US-born Lebanese Australian, Ned Mannoun, would be their candidate. This put Mannoun well behind Stanley in campaigning, but as this election is the second longest in Australia’s history, he's had time to catch up.
Unlike Stanley's, Mannoun’s nomination did not run smoothly. As mayor, Mannoun has been in conflict with another Liberal councillor, Peter Ristevski, who opposed Mannoun’s eligibility for preselection. According to the Daily Telegraph, a notification of dispute against Mannoun was sent to Chris Stone, the Liberals' state director. The notification questioned Mannoun’s suitability for the role, and Ristevski also put himself forward for preselection for the seat. However, It is understood that Mannoun was made the candidate after he renounced his US citizenship and gained strong backing from moderate powerbrokers in the Liberal Party.
In February, a council meeting turned sour when Mannoun blocked a motion, proposed by Ristevski and largely supported by other councillors, to sack the Council's CEO, Carl Wulff. Peter Harle, the council’s only independent, accused Mannoun of abusing his power as mayor to stifle the vote.
The Greens' candidate for Werriwa is Signe Westerberg. At the 2013 federal election, Westerberg ran for the southwestern Sydney seat of Hughes and won 4 per cent of the vote. Like Stanley, Westerberg advocates equality in education and health access for all residents. More specifically, she has promised to protect penalty rates and to list dental services on the Medicare schedule.
John Ramsay is the candidate for the Christian Democratic Party. He also contested the seat at the 2013 Federal election, winning 3.8 per cent of the vote.