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Thursday, 20 September 2007
Page: 159

Mrs IRWIN (12:47 PM) —The redistribution of seats in New South Wales, which has laid out the boundaries for the election due in a few weeks time, has had one of its biggest impacts on the seat of Fowler. Over 40 per cent of the existing seat has been transferred to adjoining electorates and Fowler has picked up territory from five other electorates. Over 25,000 voters from the areas of Fairfield East, Carramar, Lansvale, Canley Vale and Cabramatta have been transferred into the electorate of Blaxland and more than 8,000 from the areas of Liverpool and Warwick Farm have been transferred into the electorate of Hughes.

Fowler has gained voters from Prospect in the areas of Greenfield Park, Prairiewood, Bossley Park and Abbotsbury. It has gained voters from Werriwa in Hinchinbrook, Green Valley and Cecil Hills. Fowler has gained the rural areas of Kemps Creek, Badgerys Creek, Austral, Bringelly and Rossmore from Macarthur, and Luddenham and Wallacia from Lindsay. Warragamba and Silverdale from the electorate of Hume have also been added to Fowler.

The electorate has gone from one of the smallest in Australia, at 47 square kilometres, to a much larger electorate, increasing in area by a neat 200 square kilometres to a total of 247 square kilometres. I know that is still quite small on the scale of many rural electorates, but it is a big change and the change is not just to the area of the electorate. I would like to take the opportunity today to farewell, in a sense, those areas that I have had the privilege to represent in this parliament. Under its old boundaries, Fowler was the most multicultural electorate in Australia. Fowler has had the highest proportion of its population born overseas—over 52 per cent—and the highest proportion of people speaking a language other than English at home, which is over 65 per cent.

These factors have made Fowler quite a unique and wonderful electorate. If you need proof of these figures, you only need to visit Cabramatta to see for yourself. As I mentioned, Fowler is to lose the Cabramatta town centre, and I will certainly be sorry to lose what has been the heart of the Fowler electorate. Cabramatta has its problems but, having worked with the community there for the past nine years, we can all see improvements. I have been proud to be associated with some of the initiatives that are making Cabramatta such a great place.

While I will not have the same direct contact with some of the community organisations, I will retain a close interest in their affairs and, as many of their members will still be living in the Fowler electorate, I am sure that we will not lose touch. So I cannot say I am leaving, because Cabramatta will remain an important centre for much of the Fowler electorate. I know that my replacement there—the Labor candidate for Blaxland, Jason Clare—will be as sensitive to the needs of the Cabramatta community as I have been.

Mr Slipper —But not as good as you.

Mrs IRWIN —Thank you. The same could be said for the areas of Liverpool and Warwick Farm. Liverpool will remain an important centre for much of the new Fowler, and I will be pleased to maintain my interest in Liverpool. I know that the Labor candidate for Hughes—a great man who has wonderful potential—Greg Holland, is very grateful for the strong support given to Labor in Liverpool and Warwick Farm.

Areas have come into Fowler from the adjoining electorates of Werriwa and Prospect, and I look forward to representing these fine communities. A big challenge for me, however, are the areas to the west of the old boundaries. These small semirural communities face different challenges to other parts of Fowler. Some challenges, however, are the same. The Badgerys Creek airport affects the whole of Fowler, but its biggest impact will be in the areas close to the airport site and directly under the proposed flight paths. I have spoken in the parliament on a number of occasions expressing my opposition to Badgerys Creek airport and I will continue to press for the scrapping of its designation as an airport site. That and other issues facing those communities will be my greatest challenges in the next parliament—challenges I greatly look forward to.