By Lauren O’Connor
Coming up to the March election the seat of Maroubra will be one to watch. With a deep-seated or ‘rusted on’ Labor allegiances the seat is marginal for the first time in more than 50 years this election.
The electorate includes a former working port, a high immigrant population and is earmarked for housing and business development. State Premiers Bob Carr and Bob Heffron formerly held Maroubra, but the Liberal Candidate Brendan Roberts says Labor has taken its voters for granted.
Major topics of debate include state funding cuts to the Prince of Wales Hospital and the potential redevelopment of Malabar Headland.
City Hub spoke to three candidates about Maroubra electoral issues. The Green’s James Cruz, Randwick councillor Roberts is running for the Liberals and Labor stalwart Michael Daley will be campaigning to win the seat.
Cruz grew up housing commission and is second generation Peruvian-Australian. He is standing in the hope of being an advocate for public housing tenants.
“It has been a very strong Labor seat in the past but because in the last election there was such a swing against Labor, it became a marginal seat,” he said.
“About my prospects for being elected, I’m going to be realistic my role is mainly to get out in the community and normalise the view of the Greens in the community.
“Also because I grew up in public housing here I want to be a voice for people in public housing.” He said.
From his experiences door knocking and campaigning at local markets Cruz said an issue that strikes a cord with the community is Malabar Headland. The Greens have been working with Friends of Malabar Headland and hope the whole site will be made National Park.
“I guess with Malabar Headland, like I said a few weeks ago, we don’t really trust the Federal Government promising that they won’t sell this land because they’ve broken so many promises before,” he said.
“People are strongly opposed to any development on Malabar Headland, around here there is some very strong sentiment.“
Brendan Roberts, a family man with a background in video editing for Fairfax Media, has been a councillor at Randwick Councillor since 2012. He said investment in Prince of Wales Hospital and returning Malabar Headland to the public his two priorities.
“When I say return it to the public I see it as a two phased process phase one is to build a footpath, a coastal walkway around the headland. The headland is locked up 24/7 which doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.
“Its just a testament to decades of Labor failure in our area. Phase 2 is to move the rifle range and the way they should be moved to be funded for a new rifle range somewhere else. I’ll lobby hard if I’m elected to secure that funding.”
Current MP and Shadow Minister for Roads and Freight, Michael Daley brushed aside concerns about Maroubra’s new marginal status. He said his campaign strategy was to “continue to be himself.”
In addressing Malabar Headland, Daley said debate would only end when the Federal government remediates and gives the land to NSW.
“The Liberal promised before the last federal election that they would keep Malabar Headland and not develop it,” he told City Hub.
“Not a year into government they commissioned a secret report by development consultants to see how much money they could make if they sold it off to developers. Those two actions are mutually exclusive.”
Daley also challenged Roberts campaign rhetoric about the Prince of Wales Hospital, where he says the Liberal government is severely cutting funding.
“These cuts have been massive [and are] effecting staff morale. Physios, wards men, cleaners, support staff, admin staff; they’ve all been cut and it means the nurses have to do more,” he said.
“Cuts to the Prince of Wales Hospital… affect people of all ages. It affects people going to the emergency department it effects [visitors] it affects patient transport, it affects people who are getting surgery.