battle in the west? Parramatta and Penrith are like different countries

Long-standing gaps in opportunity have not led to political leanings. Lindsay’s federal seat – which occupies Penrith – was among a few voters to lean towards the coalition in the May 2022 election, with Liberal incumbent Melissa McIntosh returning with a larger margin.

Parramatta also bucked trends for Labour. While voters in Fowler’s south-west Sydney seat rejected ‘parachuted’ Labor candidate Kristina Keneally, Andrew Charlton was embraced by Parramatta voters and even attracted a modest swing.

The comparable seats of state at Penrith and Parramatta will be key battlegrounds in next year’s NSW elections. Stuart Ayres, former Liberal vice-leader, will look to maintain his narrow lead in Penrith, while the resignation of Parramatta Liberal Geoff Lee puts his Labor seat back into play.

Scott Morrison and Liberal MP for Lindsay Melissa McIntosh in November 2021. McIntosh retained her Penrith-based seat by a larger margin.

Scott Morrison and Liberal MP for Lindsay Melissa McIntosh in November 2021. McIntosh retained her Penrith-based seat by a larger margin.Recognition:Dominik Lorrimer

Federal and state election turnaround rates in western Sydney continue to exceed the jurisdictional averages. This dynamic is fueled in part by the region’s increasingly diverse social and cultural mix, which entails shifting attitudes and allegiances.

Almost 58 per cent of Parramatta residents were foreign-born, compared to around 29 per cent of Penrith residents. India is now the most common non-Australian place of origin for both.

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Parramatta households are likely to sound different from most Australian households, with almost 62 per cent of them echoing a language other than English. That figure drops to 24 per cent in Penrith, a rate also below the national average.

Penrith, on the other hand, is home to one of the largest populations of Indigenous Australians in the country, making up nearly 11,000, or 5 percent of the region’s population.

Parramatta’s four-time Premier League run in the 1980s came when Sydney West was a different place, much less diverse and more socially and economically marginalized. Penrith’s recent string of exceptional successes is reminiscent of breakout victories in 1991 and 2003 for a contrastingly stable supporter base.

1986 was the last time Parramatta won the title, Bananarama’s Venus was entrenched at number 1, Bob Hawke was Prime Minister, Ronald Reagan was US President, Neighbors was just a year old, and top gun was the most successful film. I was 14, at Girraween High, and dressed head to toe in blue and gold. I may or may not have carried a mullet.

A win for the Panthers on Sunday would draw them level with their ‘big brother’ Eels. It would be a source of pride for an area that has weathered prolonged lockdowns and recent flooding. For Parramatta, another big final win would end the longest Premiership drought in the modern game. It would also be a look at a more recent version of West Sydney, hinting at more sweeping changes ahead.

Andy Marks is Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Western Sydney University and Director of the Center for Western Sydney.

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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/battle-of-the-west-parramatta-and-penrith-are-like-different-countries-20220928-p5blnj.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw battle in the west? Parramatta and Penrith are like different countries

Joel McCord

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