There are 50,000 voters in this new seat in Sydney. That’s what they want

Hop off the T2 line at the Leppington terminus and you’ll be immersed in a blank canvas. There’s not much to see apart from a commuter parking lot and a few detached houses.

Welcome to Sydney’s Southwest Growth Corridor, a largely low-density work-in-progress development stretching past Liverpool towards what will eventually become the southern end of the second airport and Aerotropolis.

Leppington is a new 50-square-mile seat of about 50,000 voters. It’s fictional Labor, but by a small margin. For the opposition, Leppington is vital; if it can’t win here, it won’t win any government.

But there is an air of unpredictability; With new homes being filled all the time, no one can claim to know much about these voters. The seat also falls largely in Werriwa’s federal division, which saw wide divergences from the major parties in last year’s election (the Liberal Democrats, United Australia Party and One Nation combined received 22.8 per cent of the first preferences).

At the state level, the voters here take care of the infrastructure – especially schools, traffic and roads. That much was clear last week when the herald visited Carnes Hill Marketplace where the doors and digital billboards are filled with ads for local low fee private schools.

Denise Norman was shopping with her 14-year-old son William, who is a 9th grader at John Edmondson High. His younger siblings just started at Casula High. “We need another school in Edmondson Park ASAP – it’s just taking too long,” Denise said. “It frustrates me … there are a lot of people who are on waiting lists. That will be a main reason why I vote.”

Childcare is the big problem for Chantelle Tavita and her partner Mikaera Ormsby. Chantelle estimates they tried to place three-year-old Jahkye at 10 local centers but they were all booked. Until they find childcare, she cannot return to work.

“It’s just something we have to do because everything is getting more expensive,” she says. “We’re fine at the moment, but if I worked it would help us more, we could do more things for the kids, go out with them more. We can’t really do that because all our money is gone.”

Chantelle Tavita and Mikaera Ormsby, with son Jahkye, 3.

Chantelle Tavita and Mikaera Ormsby, with son Jahkye, 3.Credit:Flavio Brancaleone

The big parties are aware of these problems and are trying to outdo each other. Whichever side can convince a skeptical electorate that they will actually honor these commitments should prevail.

The government opened an elementary school in Edmondson Park this semester, but is still in the early stages of planning a high school next door (five years after funding was announced in the 2018 budget).

Planning for a new selective school at Leppington Station is also underway – a “Captain’s Call” by then Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian in 2019 and the state’s first new fully selective high school in 25 years [two others are also planned].

The coalition said if re-elected it would build another public high school somewhere in the Southwest Growth Area to serve Austral, Leppington, Denham Court, Gregory Hills and Gledswood Hills.

Labor pledges to give these five suburbs two new high schools; one for Austral, Leppington and Denham Court and one for Gregory Hills and Gledswood Hills (which are further south in the Camden seat).

When the Coalition announced the acceleration of its $5.8 billion childcare package, it came as no surprise that the press tour included an early childhood education facility at Denham Court, where Leppington is based. Dominic Perrottet pledges to spend $1 billion this year to build 500 preschools, part of a plan to offer free preschool to four-year-olds by 2030.

Labor has vowed to beat the coalition for universal preschool by delivering it earlier. Principal Chris Minns pledged 100 new public elementary preschools and an additional $60 million for private preschools, including in the Southwest Growth Corridor.

Labor candidate Nathan Hagarty from Leppington, a Liverpool councilor, says locals are saddened by the perceived neglect by the government, including the lack of parks, the condition of the roads, tolls and the train timetable.

“It’s one thing to place thousands of homes in an area, but it’s quite another thing to build a community,” he says. “The current government has had ample opportunity to build the schools, improve the roads, fix the hospital system, but it’s going backwards and forwards.”

Nathan Hagarty, Labor candidate for Leppington, talks to voter Denise Norman and her son William, 14.

Nathan Hagarty, Labor candidate for Leppington, talks to voter Denise Norman and her son William, 14.Credit:Flavio Brancaleone

There can also be an “it’s time” factor. After the turmoil of 2007-11, Labor knows only too well that fourth terms can be both a blessing and a curse. “Governments don’t do their best work in the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th years,” says Hagarty.

This is a seat where Labor is hoping the Government’s pursuit of tolls – and its promise to cap tolls at $60 a week for two years – will pay off. The government recently extended the toll refund system to sole proprietorships.

Both parties are also soliciting solicitations for first-time home buyers. The government has already legislated a choice between stamp duty and property tax on first homes worth up to $1.5 million; Labor pledges to eliminate stamp duty on homes up to $800,000 and impose a preferential rate of between $800,000 and $1 million.

[The median price for a three-bedroom house is $788,000 in Prestons, $880,000 in Hoxton Park and $900,000 in Austral, Domain data shows.]

The Liberals are leading Camden Mayor and small business owner Therese Fedeli, who grew up near Liverpool and whose first job was in her Italian immigrant father’s local fruit shop.

Fedeli also cites infrastructure and the cost of living as major issues for Leppington. But if voters feel let down by the infrastructure, wouldn’t they have the right to blame the coalition government after 12 years in office?

“I usually say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ You have to be patient … the infrastructure will come,” says Fedeli. “It’s a new area with many fragmented landowners. It’s not easy dealing with so many people.”

Essentially, Fedeli advises families and small business owners worried about the cost of living to trust the Liberals’ economic credit rating.

“I’m just telling them: you have to vote for liberals, because the liberals are the ones who have strong economic management, and we are the ones who can keep the economy running strong,” she says.

Therese Fedeli, the Liberal candidate for Leppington.

Therese Fedeli, the Liberal candidate for Leppington.Credit:Dean Sewell

When it comes to public transport, a crucial difference has emerged between the major parties. Labor has pledged $300m to set up fast bus services between the second airport and Campbelltown, Liverpool and Penrith by the time the runways open in 2026. This is a big problem in Leppington, 15 minutes drive from the future airport but with no direct service past public transport.

While both parties are pushing for a subway line from the new airport to Leppington and Glenfield, Labor has said it will not proceed with the business case to extend the south-west subway from Bankstown to Glenfield (near Leppington). becomes.

Perrottet accused Labor of cheating commuters in western Sydney. Minns said he “prioritised delivery over broken promises.” For her part, Fedeli says she will fight hard for express buses if elected, while Hagarty says Labor may review their position on the tube line in government.

Mark Buttigieg, Labor MP with campaign responsibility for Leppington and nearby seats, says the team knocked on more than a third of the seat doors and found voters who care about the issues but are not holding on to their votes .

“I’ve been knocking on the door for 30 years, and I’ve never seen people so receptive to conversation,” Buttigieg said as he campaigned with Hagarty last Thursday.

Local Greg Crawford says there is very little real infrastructure in the Leppington electorate.

Local Greg Crawford says there is very little real infrastructure in the Leppington electorate.Credit:Flavio Brancaleone

Other voters the herald spoken to last week had made up their minds. Labor voter Raj Kumar, 71, will return to support the party, although he doesn’t think either side of politics will do much about what he says is the main problem in western Sydney: too many migrants.


Retired haulage contractor Greg Crawford, a regular Liberal voter, said he will support the Liberals because he doesn’t think Labor has the guts to deliver on its promises. His complaints were mostly the same as everyone else’s.

“This area is going to need a lot of help very soon because it’s so developed now and with all the empty land that’s out here it’s going to get worse,” he said. “So there’s going to be a lot of houses, a lot of people, and there’s very little real infrastructure.”

The Morning Edition Newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Login here. There are 50,000 voters in this new seat in Sydney. That’s what they want

Justin Scaccy

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