Time to have your say on governance

Getting in early: The Wetherill Park early voting centre has been open since May 6. Thousands of votes have already been cast. Picture: Chris Lane
Getting in early: The Wetherill Park early voting centre has been open since May 6. Thousands of votes have already been cast. Picture: Chris Lane

Fairfield residents head to the polls on Saturday May, 18 with Australians to elect 151 MPs (one from each seat) to the lower house and 40 senators (six per state and two per territory) to the upper house.

A total of 11 candidates are contesting the McMahon and Fowler electorates which covers the majority of the Fairfield LGA.

McMahon, which has been represented by Chris Bowen since 2004, covers 168 square kilometres including the suburbs of Fairfield, Smithfield, Canley Vale, Fairfield, Fairfield West, Old Guildford, Yennora and Wetherill Park.

Mr Bowen's margin is 12.1 per cent in the seat which was known as Prospect until the 2010 election.

Six candidates are running in McMahon. In ballot order they are: Meg Libby Wrightson (United Australia Party), Damian Commane (Pauline Hanson's One Nation), Zeeshan Philip Francis (Christian Democratic Party -Fred Nile Group), Chris Bown (Labor), Astrid ONeill (The Greens) and Vivek Singha (Liberal).

Mr Bowen said it has been a "privilege" to represent the community in federal Parliament for 15 years, including in cabinet and as treasurer.

"I believe in the work that the Labor Party has done in opposition, and I want to continue to represent our area in a Labor Government to see our plans for Australian put into action," Mr Bowen told the Champion.

Mr Bowen list health, education and cost of living as the three key issues for the area.

"I am proud that Labor has announced Fairfield Hospital will get an MRI license, to lower the cost of important scans, as well as the biggest cancer care package in Australian history," he said.

"Labor will invest record amount in our local schools and TAFEs, to give our students the best start in life. A Shorten Labor Government will boost investment and create new jobs."

Indian-born Liberal candidate Vivek Singha said he can relate to the journey of coming to a new country first-hand.

"New country, new language, working three jobs, finally a small success,and then challenges, family issues, missing social support structures," he said.

"I know how it is to feel in a new country and also the thrills of living in the best country in the world."

Mr Singha said people are taking longer to find jobs and now is not the time to hand over the reins to Labor. Health infrastructure is another key issue for the area he identified and said he also wants investments in a multicultural support centre in Fairfield to "rapidly upskill" residents arriving to Australia..

"Some people are benefiting from the growing economy but many people in the Fairfield, Merrylands, Smithfield and Wetherill Park areas are struggling or are missing out. We need the industries of tomorrow to come to the area, and all people and especially kids, the citizens of the future to be ready for the jobs of the future," he said.

"If you read the reviews of Fairfield Hospital by some mums who have had birthing experiences there, the reviews are shocking. Services need to be improved with better customer service from government services."

Greens candidate Astrid O'Neill said public schools, hospitals and healthcare are all underfunded in McMahon.

"The Greens are the only party standing in McMahon which will prioritise urgent action on reversing climate change and preventing the looming ecological and climate emergency," she said.

"Homelessness affects 2550 people in McMahon. Young people can't afford to buy their first home. The Greens will invest in environmentally sound social and community housing."

Chris Hayes has a 17.6 per cent margin in Fowler which will be contested by (in ballot order): Francesca Mocanu (Christian Democratic Party - Fred Nile Group), Chris Hayes (Labor), Joshua Jabbour (United Australia Party), Seamus Lee (The Greens) and Wayne Blewitt (Liberal).

Mr Hayes, who previously represented Werriwa (2005-2010), has held the seat since 2010 which includes the suburbs of Abbotsbury, Bonnyrigg , Bossley Park , Cabramatta, Cabramatta West, Canley Heights, Canley Vale, Carramar, Edensor Park, Fairfield East, Greenfield Park, Mount Pritchard, Prairiewood and Wakeley.

"If given the opportunity, I will continue to fight to ensure our community gets its fair share," Mr Hayes said.

"Fowler is the most affected area in the country by rental stress. This is why we will use the tax system to encourage the construction of affordable housing.

"Labor is committed to an additional $27,690,000 to public schools in my electorate alone. Every child deserves a quality education.

"Regrettably, my electorate is overrepresented with families living with disabilities. I am committed to better planning, more choice and easier reviews."

Long-time Cabramatta resident Wayne Blewitt is the Liberal candidate for Fowler and supports tax relief for families and small business, keeping the economy strong and the community safe.

The Fowler Greens candidate Seamus Lee wants to fix climate change and support households in installing solar panels on their roofs, improve the public transport in the area and fight for fair funding for public schools.

"We need to have strong sustainable communities and that comes from having a sustainable environment that works for all of us and we need to ensure that inequality in society is going down not up," he said.

The Australian Electoral Commission is reminding residents they have a range of information and services to help voters from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds take part in the federal election.

Electoral Commissioner, Tom Rogers, said it was crucial all voters understood the electoral process and had the chance to cast a valid vote.

"Providing information to assist voters from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds is an important part of the AEC's effort to ensure every eligible Australian has the opportunity to have their vote counted," he said.

Translations of key AEC 2019 election material are available in 29 languages via the AEC's website.

The AEC distributes translated information through in-language media and culturally and linguistically diverse community groups. A telephone interpreting service (1300 720 153) is also available.

A record number of pre-poll votes will be counted on election night with at least 5 million of the 16.4 million Australian voters expected to vote early.

  • Voting is compulsory. To check what electorate you're in and where you can vote visit aec.gov.au.