Explainer: Western Sydney and the 2013 federal election

Once described as Labor heartland, this week western Sydney became the heart of federal politics.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard decamped to Rooty Hill for a five-day visit, and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also came to town, heading to Duck River for a Clean Up Australia Day event.

Labor currently holds many of the electorates directly west of the Sydney CBD and continuing up to the Blue Mountains outside the city. But as the 2013 election creeps closer, pollsters believe it could lose as many as ten seats.

Political expert David Burchell from the University of Western Sydney says the outer western Sydney region could best be described as "classic swing territory".

"A lot of people are mortgaged up to the hilt, young families are really focused on economic issues, local issues, transport issues, service issues," he says.

"Right now in western Sydney, there's not that much of the town that is rusted-on Labor right now."

Parramatta residents told SBS this week they're concerned about high living costs, education for their children and job stability.

WATCH: Parramatta residents on Gillard's visit

Speaking at the University of Western Sydney this week, Julia Gillard said she was determined to bring better education, the National Broadband Network and the National Disability Insurance Scheme to people of the region.

She also pledged to manage the pressure of living costs, and said she would put Australian-born workers ahead of foreign-born workers.

The last point caused Tony Abbott to accuse the Prime Minister of "demonising" foreign workers.

Some business owners in Auburn told SBS this week they supported putting local jobs first. Other residents said jobs should go to whoever had the skills.

WATCH: Auburn residents react to job pledge


Sydney's western suburbs are home to more people than live in the entire state of South Australia, and more than those who live in Tasmania, ACT and the Northern Territory combined.


Sydney's west is home to around two million people. One third of the population has migrated to Australia, and the average citizen is younger than the national average.

There's no "typical" western Sydney voter, with population-dense centres such as Parramatta and Blacktown tending to be ethnically diverse, while those on the semi-rural fringes are more likely to have been born in Australia than overseas.


Julia Gillard has pledged to focus on jobs, living costs, education, the NBN and the NDIS.

Tony Abbott has promised to scrap the Carbon Tax. He's also pledged to stop crime and asylum seeker boats.

Both parties have stated they'll tackle western Sydney's road congestion problems, including lengthening the M4 and the M5.

Source: SBS