'Iconic' seat in limbo: ALP proposes to scrap Cabramatta electorate

The Cabramatta state electorate has been held by Labor since 1981. Nick Lalich has held the seat since 2008, defeating Dai Le on three occasions.

The Cabramatta state electorate has been held by Labor since 1981. Nick Lalich has held the seat since 2008, defeating Dai Le on three occasions.

"It's a shame that after years of people voting for Labor in Cabramatta, Labor now doesn't want to represent the seat."

That was the reaction from long-time Cabramatta advocate and Fairfield councillor Dai Le upon hearing the Australian Labor Party's proposal to abolish the Cabramatta electoral district which was established in 1981. The ALP suggestion - part of the redistribution of NSW electoral districts - proposes amalgamating the western end of Bankstown with parts of the districts of Cabramatta and Fairfield to be called Villawood. It would include the suburbs of Cabramatta, Canley Vale, Carramar, Villawood, Fairfield East, Chester Hill and Sefton.

Under the ALP's plans, which includes creating a new seat called Minto, residents in Canley Heights, Canley Vale, Bonnyrigg, Bonnyrigg Heights, Wakeley, Mount Pritchard and Edensor Park would move into nearby seats of Fairfield and Green Valley (the ALPs proposed name change for Liverpool).

"By the time we get to Bankstown, the cumulative shortage for all seats in the region mean that there is a shortage of half a seat. As the adjoining districts further west of Granville, Fairfield and Cabramatta are also collectively 20 per cent short the abolition of a district becomes inevitable," the ALP said in their suggestion, one of 40 now available for the public to lodge written comments on via the electoral commission's website by July 15.

Ms Le, who has unsuccessfully challenged current Labor MP Nick Lalich three times for the Cabramatta seat over the past decade, said she would be lodging a comment on the Labor Party's "bewildering" decision.

"It makes no sense to me," she said. " It's considered one of the safest Labor seats in Australia. Cabramatta is the economic centre of the electorate and I feel that with a lot of the non-English speaking background people in the community they just got to understand how to vote and where to go and these changes are going to cause mayhem.

"The Bankstown population is different to the Cabramatta electorate; there is a different mix to the Fairfield LGA.

The ALP's sugestion for the new Villawood seat.

The ALP's sugestion for the new Villawood seat.

"It won't deter me from continuing to advocate and be the voice of this rich and culturally diverse community. We need a strong voice in NSW Parliament."

When asked if Cabramatta - the home of former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam for 15 years - deserves its own seat, Ms Le said: "Yes, Absolutely."

Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone said the people of Cabramatta "need to be represented."

"I want to make sure the 40-year history of the Cabramatta electorate remains and I will be asking council to do a submission to ensure the seat of Cabramatta remains," he said.

"I'm concerned the proposal includes areas of Bankstown in the previous seat of Cabramatta. Cabramatta should be within our local LGA and the name should remain. It's a name known as a strong town centre and a strong community."

The Liberal Party's submission for redistribution, which is required by legislation to take place after every second state general election, proposes to keeps the Cabramatta name but suggested changes to the boundary, to include Villawood, Bass Hill and Chester Hill. Under their suggestion, Mount Pritchard and Bonnyrigg would move into Liverpool.

They also propose the Fairfield electorate pick up the suburbs of Bossley Park, Wetherill Park and Smithfield, which would contain the electorate in the Fairfield LGA.

An independent three-member panel is administering the redistribution process, made up of the Chairperson, Justice Arthur Emmett, NSW Electoral Commissioner John Schmidt and NSW Surveyor General Narelle Underwood.

"Redistribution is a whole-of-state process. The primary goal is to distribute the enrolled electors as evenly as possible across NSW. All suggestions and comments on suggestions received from the public will be considered by the panel when deciding where the boundaries should be drawn," Justice Emmett said.

"The next step in the process is for the panel to publish draft electoral district boundaries. At that time, you'll have another opportunity to have your voice heard."

Long-time Cabramatta resident Ken Chapman. Picture: Chris Lane

Long-time Cabramatta resident Ken Chapman. Picture: Chris Lane

Long-time Cabramatta resident Ken Chapman - who was the electoral secretary to murdered Cabramatta Labor MP John Newman - said Cabramatta "deserves" its own seat.

"Cabramatta is a growing area. I was disappointed when I heard the ALP's plans," said Mr Chapman, who this year was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his service to the community of Cabramatta.

"Cabramatta deserves a seat in parliament to represent our multicultural area. It will be disappointing if we had to mix with different areas because we will lose out cultural base.

"Cabramatta is an iconic seat. After all, former premier Sir Henry Parkes - the father of Australia's federation - established the Cabramatta/Canley Vale council back in 1892."

The former Fairfield mayor said instead of removing seats from Fairfield, they should be adding them.

"I think we should probably get an extra seat in the next four years," he said.