The west puts up a Do Not Disturb sign to Prime Minister Julia Gillard


The west puts up a Do Not Disturb sign to Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Gemma Jones
The Daily Telegraph
February 27, 201312:00AM

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Julia Gillard … from Kirribilli to the Novotel, Rooty Hill. Source: The Daily Telegraph

Source: The Daily Telegraph

THE week-long prime ministerial sleepover in Sydney’s west has been labelled a stunt and a desperate bid by Julia Gillard to regain the Labor party’s heartland.

But one Sydney Labor MP said campaigning in the west with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would be preferable.

Ms Gillard will trade her Sydney digs – Harbourside Kirribilli House – for the Novotel at Rooty Hill RSL after a rally in Parramatta on Sunday night.

It takes more than 90 minutes by public transport from her Kirribilli House home to the Novotel in the heart of the Chifley electorate.

The Daily Telegraph revealed this month internal polling showed the seat, plus a dozen others, was under threat. Government whip Ed Husic holds Chifley by 12 per cent. Ms Gillard will visit at least eight seats – Chifley, Parramatta, Lindsay, Banks, Werriwa, Fowler, Greenway and Macarthur – during her stay.

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However, Parramatta Labor councillor Pierre Esber yesterday said it was time western Sydney MPs considered a leadership change.”Western Sydney MPs have got to look at themselves in the mirror and ask, ‘How can we save seats, who is the best person to lead us to save seats?’,” the former deputy mayor said.

He said Ms Gillard’s “heart is in the right place” and western Sydney would welcome her with respect – but he said the carbon tax and the influx of asylum-seeker boats arrivals had damaged Labor’s vote and credibility.

“She is the PM, she is responsible for it,” he said.

He said Labor had failed to sell the things it had done for western Sydney residents, such as tripling the tax-free threshold to $18,000 and building school halls.

Meanwhile, an unnamed western Sydney MP said Ms Gillard’s attack on Mr Abbott over claims of misogyny had fallen flat there.

“While Abbott is unpopular with the inner city intelligentsia, if I had to go out and campaign in western Sydney and I had a choice of him by my side or the PM, I know who I would pick,” the MP said.

The MP predicted the election result in western Sydney would come close to the wipeout Labor suffered in the NSW state election, with the Eddie Obeid ICAC scandal also affecting the vote.

“It is going to be a flaying,” the MP said.

Another Labor MP also questioned the sleepover, after Ms Gillard said – when she announced the September 14 election eight months out – that she was committed to governing. “We were meant to be about governing, this looks like campaigning,” the MP said.

Blacktown Labor councillor Leo Kelly yesterday said the western Sydney sleep-out was “a bit late”.

He said voters would expect Ms Gillard to be able to help them with cost-of-living pressures and with education and transport needs.

“I think people will respond to that and, if not, they (Labor) could be in more trouble than they think they are,” he said. “People will be keen to indicate their concerns and the opportunity to do it is well overdue.”

Labor lost power on Blacktown council last September and Mr Kelly’s councillor colleague Alan Pendleton blamed the “stench” of NSW Labor and he said Ms Gillard, whom he praised, would also be unfairly punished.

Many Labor MPs contacted The Daily Telegraph yesterday to promote the tour.

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury, who holds Lindsay, blamed uncertainty in the world economy for voters becoming “grumpy” with the government, but he said Ms Gillard’s visit was a chance to sell Labor’s message.

“Every day the PM visits western Sydney is a good day for everyone,” he said.

When asked what issues Ms Gillard would find Lindsay voters most commended and most complained about, Mr Bradbury conceded that the carbon tax had not been popular while saying the national broadband network was the most praised initiative in his electorate.

Parramatta MP Julie Owens said that based on her door-knocking she believed Labor’s fortunes were more positive than polls suggested.

Greenway’s Michelle Rowland said it was a chance for Ms Gillard to hear from the community.

Rooty Hill RSL CEO Richard Errington said it was “an outstanding honour” that Ms Gillard was to stay.

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One thought on “The west puts up a Do Not Disturb sign to Prime Minister Julia Gillard

  1. Neville

    26 February, 2013

    What does PM Gillard hope to achieve by trying to win the five seats in Sydney’s West, when it is reported that up to
    18 seats are likely to be lost nationwide. On talkback radio
    this morning the proposal to ban outdoor smoking has prompted
    some councils to ban outdoor dining smoking bans, causing
    some restaurants to lose customers to adjacent districts where they are allowed to smoke in outdoor dining areas.
    It remains to be seen what results will be achieved.
    There are many issues in Sydney’s west, the main issue being

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