Hagarty says Leppington will be close; polls tip Labor victory

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The new electorate of Leppington is shaping up as the seat to watch in the NSW state election this Saturday, March 25.

It spreads from Elizabeth Drive in the north to take in places like Rossmore, Austral, Hoxton Park and Prestons.

It winds south to Camden parts such as Emerald Hills and Denham Court before stretching south east to Campbelltown suburbs such as Eagle Vale, Raby, Eschol Park and Kearns.

Cobbled together from bits taken off six other neighbouring electorates, Leppington is a mirror to what’s happening in most of outer South Western Sydney, from Liverpool to Wollondilly.

Huge residential growth has seen thousands of new residents move in, especially around Austral and Leppington, in a few short years.

However, the infrastructure has not followed suit, which is one of the reasons recent opinion polls point to a Labor victory in Leppington.

But the party’s candidate and one of its brightest South West stars, Nathan Hagarty, isn’t even thinking about celebrating just yet.

“It’s going to be close, but we can’t win government without winning Leppington,’’ he says.

A map of the new electorate, and, top, Nathan Hagarty, left, talking to a local resident at Emerald Hills.

“It’s been described as an arm wrestle, so all I can control is what we do locally, and we’re trying to have as many conversations as we can between now and election day.

“All you can do is keep knocking on doors and tell them the current government has been in office for 12 years, they really haven’t got much left in the tank, and good governments do their best work in the first few years not in their 13th, 14th year,’’ he says.

“I think it’s time for a change and I think that’s resonating.

“And I’ve been fortunate to get a lot of good commitments; we’re going to build the first public high school in Leppington, Austral, Denham Court, will start the process to build a hospital at the new airport, upgrade 15th Avenue, convert Eagle Vale into a sports high school,’’ says Hagarty.

The Labor candidate for Leppington say it has been “very much a traditional campaign, knocking on as many doors as we can, train stations in the morning, street stalls, and I have always been active on social media’’.

Hagarty at the ballot draw with his Liberal opponent, Therese Fedeli.

“But those one on one conversations are the best opportunity to speak to people; they might not necessarily like Labor, but you have a good conversation they may like you, and win them over.

“For me, it’s about this area, it’s grown exponentially in the last few years, the services and infrastructure haven’t kept up – schools, hospitals, roads, park, all that.’’

With so many new residents, Leppington is also “mortgage central’’ which is one of the reasons it will mirror whatever happens in the rest of the South West and parts of Western Sydney, too this Saturday.

Cost of living is the big one, the main thing punters want to talk to Hagarty when he knocks on their door, from inflation to interest rates to petrol prices and tolls.

“I spoke to a young couple, both shift workers at Sydney Airport, who can’t get public transport because trains aren’t always operating, so they pay tolls of between $120, $130 each a week, that’s $250, $260 a week to get to work,’’ Hagarty says.

“Labor’s going to cap tolls at $60 a week, so they will be saving over $100 a week just there.

“That couple moved here with half a mind to potentially get a job at the new airport, but the current government decided a metro from the airport to St Marys (near Penrith) is a priority.

“It means for people like this couple, if they want get to the new airport, they will have to go out to the Leppington line, go round to Parramatta, change and get to St Marys, and change again to the Metro.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,’’ he says.

“We’ve announced we’ll complete the business case for that Leppington extension [to the new airport] and spend $305m for buses to the airport, from Campbelltown, Penrith and Leppington.

“I think that’s really important because it will get the workers there to those good jobs at the new airport.’’

When we start to talk about how voters are becoming increasingly disconnected, Hagarty responds by quoting American politician Stacey Abrams: “You might not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you, and it’s a stalker’’.

“The perverse thing in politics is that we love the suffering, the sore feet, having doors slammed in our faces,’’ says Hagarty.

“But all it takes is having one conversation and making a difference in someone’s life to keep you going for the rest of the day.

“So one way or another, whatever your gripe is, it comes back to politics and good governance and we should all care.’’

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