Cost of living pressures, climate change and government corruption are the key issues ahead of tomorrow’s federal election, for voters in the make or break electorate of Reid.
Central News surveyed 142 voters from across the Sydney inner-city electorate to find out what issues matter to them. Held by a slim margin of 3.2 per cent by Liberal MP Fiona Martin, Reid will be one of the key battleground seats that will decide the result of the election.
Since it was first contested in 1922 the seat has historically been a Labor stronghold, but has been held by the Liberal party since 2013. Both parties will feel winning Reid is key to securing a path to victory.
James Enderby from local community group Climate Action Burwood-Canada Bay believes this will be the first election where climate change will be a decisive issue in Reid.
“This one feels different. And the reason it feels different is because we’ve actually seen the impacts of it in the last three years,” James said.
“If you just look around Reid there’s basically signs everywhere like [there’s been] 600 signs we’ve handed out.”
Greens candidate Charles Jago believes the Coalition’s net-zero by 2050 strategy will not adequately address the impacts of climate change and that voters in Reid will vote against it.
“If you are concerned about doing something on climate, then this is not the year to vote for the Liberal Party,” Jago said.
“At some point in the future they may decide to be a liberal party, as opposed to a party that does what its fossil fuel donors want. But right now, that’s not what it is.”
Voter demographics in Reid vary greatly between its western and eastern boundaries. Median weekly incomes in Lidcombe – on Reid’s western edge – are $140 below the state average. By contrast, median weekly incomes in Drummoyne – on Reid’s eastern edge – are $506 above the state average.
United Australia Party candidate Jamal Daoud, who lives and campaigns in Reid’s western suburbs, believes it is the legacy of the pandemic that is front and centre in the minds of voters near him.
“The attack on our freedom, the attack on our liberties, and the restrictions that have already killed our businesses… These are the biggest issues concerning a large section of the community, and we expect to get a lot of our vote based on these issues,” Daoud said.
The performance of Independent candidates and those representing grassroots coalitions will also be closely monitored on election night. Survey results indicate that 33 per cent of voters plan to vote for a candidate outside of the two major parties. Sahar Khalili is standing as a candidate for the Fusion party – a coalition of several smaller centre-left parties such as the Science Party, the Pirate Party and the Secular Party. Khalili believes that the issues voters are identifying as crucial in this election are all interconnected.
“Climate might seem like a single issue but really it overlaps and affects things like our health. So the pollution that we have due to not addressing climate issues, and using coal means that we have higher health costs and health risks,” Khalili said.
Khalili believes smaller coalitions like the Fusion Party offer people the chance to engage with policy making and discussions, without needing to tow party lines or cave to special interest groups and lobbyists.
“We’re pretty much just saying what we want. Isn’t that what democracy is meant to be about? So Fusion is definitely filling in a void that we’re not really seeing being covered by the major parties,” she added.
Sitting MP Fiona Martin’s campaign has been hamstrung by a series of negative headlines. First, she was the subject of an attack video by popular YouTube comedian Jordan Shanks aka FriendlyJordies, who among other critiques, highlighted that Dr Martin does not live in the electorate.
Jago says that some voters in Reid have been blindsided by this revelation.
“I think quite a few voters in Reid thought that she did live in Reid and found out that really, she didn’t. And I suppose some voters will be a bit apathetic about this, but quite a few would not be happy at all,” he said.
Then there was the strange incident a week ago when Dr Martin mixed up Labor candidate for Reid Sally Sitou, with Tu Le who missed out on running for the seat of Fowler due to Kristina Keneally being selected over her, during a live radio debate on 2GB.
Making things even more difficult for Dr Martin is independent candidate and Liberal party defector, Natalie Baini.
Fusion is definitely filling in a void that we’re not really seeing being covered by the major parties.
Baini left the party in 2021, citing serious concerns with the treatment of women in the Liberal Party. Her grievances stem from a relationship she entered into with Craig Laundy – who held the seat between 2013 and 2019 – and how the party responded to it.
Laundy was married at the time of their relationship, but Baini says he misled her by telling her that he was effectively separated from his wife.
She then made a complaint about Laundy’s conduct to the NSW Liberal party’s state director Chris Stone. She now says it was because of this complaint that she wasn’t given the opportunity to run as the Liberal candidate for Reid.
Baini has recently made headlines for preferencing the Labor party above the Liberal party on her how-to-vote cards.
She will be hoping to draw the Liberal party’s more conservative voters away from the party on Saturday, capitalising on Dr Martin’s decision to cross the floor and side with the opposition against the passing of the Religious Discrimination Bill, which has upset some religious voters in Reid.
While the Labor party are the favourites to re-claim Reid, it is worth mentioning that this was a seat that few people gave the government a chance of winning in 2019. Whoever does take out the seat on Saturday will see it is a good omen for their prospects in securing a national election victory.
Central News approached all candidates in Reid for an interview, but did not get a response from all.
Main image by Charlie McLean.