Three of Australia’s gayest electorates, Sydney, Grayndler and Wentworth, could produce some surprise results this federal election.
Eastern suburbs seat Went-worth is held with an eight percent margin by Liberal MP Peter King. But Prime Minister John Howard is very concerned the seat could fall to the ALP, due to a recent leadership battle, combined with protest votes against the war in Iraq and the recent same-sex marriage ban.
Howard has sent personalised letters to homes in Wentworth, stating the Liberal Party did not consider Wentworth a safe Liberal seat.
I have a very real concern that the seat of Wentworth could be won by the Labor Party at the next election, Howard writes in his opening sentence.
This week King was still considering whether he would stand for Wentworth as an independent, after he was beaten by Malcolm Turnbull in a Liberal preselection stoush.
Labor’s Wentworth candidate David Patch has been courting the gay and lesbian community, pointing to his involvement in the 1978 Mardi Gras protests and his support for same-sex marriage.
All people, no matter what their sexuality, should enjoy the same rights and freedoms, Patch said.
This applies in all areas of economic, legal and social activity. Governments and political parties have a duty to take the lead on basic matters of fairness and principle like this.
Meantime, Greens leader Bob Brown sent out a press release last week stating he believed the Greens could take the inner western seat of Grayndler and the seat of Sydney from the ALP.
Although both seats are considered safe (Sydney’s Tanya Plibersek holds her seat by 15 percent, Grayndler’s Anthony Albanese by 21 percent), Brown thinks the Greens could pick up 30 percent of the primary vote in Sydney.
Stopping short of predicting a win, Greens candidate Jenny Leong told Sydney Star Observer the party was campaigning hard to make Sydney a less safe Labor seat.
There are people in Sydney who don’t actually like the direction John Howard is taking Australia, and who believe that Labor is just following behind. There are people who are saying -˜we want to get rid of Howard’, but we don’t just want Labor to be the same.
Leong said she expected votes to come from people annoyed about the ALP’s support for the same-sex marriage ban and the Free Trade Agreement.
Tanya Plibersek told the Star she hoped Sydney voters would look at her strong record of support for the community and gay and lesbian issues instead of just same-sex marriage when casting their vote.
Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Somali Cerise said this election came at an important time in terms of gay and lesbian rights and recognition.
I think against the political backdrop of what’s happened this year in terms of the marriage ban, gay and lesbian rights are at the forefront of people’s minds -“ both politicians and members of the community, Cerise said.
We’ve also had nine years of a conservative government that hasn’t advanced our rights in any significant way except in superannuation reforms.
Cerise said the Lobby would survey all of the parties before offering any voting advice to the gay and lesbian community.
The Lobby commenced its election campaign by calling for all gay and lesbian voters to make sure they were properly enrolled.
This is especially important for gays and lesbians who have recently turned 18 and those who have moved house, Lobby co-convenor Rob McGrory said.
In some marginal electorates it can come down to a few votes and these can be the difference between having someone in parliament who supports our rights and someone who doesn’t.
While candidates have commenced campaigning, the much-discussed senate inquiry into same-sex marriage and adoption has been officially shelved. It is not known whether senators will pick it up after the election.