Obama-style tactics helped Labor in west

NSW Labor targeted the ethnic vote and used Obama-style campaign tactics to directly contact undecided voters to prevent an expected wipeout in Western Sydney.

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, the former NSW ALP general secretary, said the result was a warning to Premier Barry O’Farrell that he should not take western Sydney seats for granted in the 2015 state election.

‘‘Everyone had written us off in western Sydney seats and we defied expectations,’’ Mr Dastyari said. ‘‘Our campaign was targeted and methodical.

Labor recaptured ethnic community votes it lost in the 2010 federal election.

In the seat of Fowler, where 22 per cent of the community speaks Vietnamese, Labor candidate Chris Hayes achieved a 9.51 per cent swing in his favour.

In the seat of Werriwa, which Labor feared it might lose, Laurie Ferguson direct-mailed ethnic communities with a personal message in the last days of his campaign. He also spoke on numerous community language radio programs including those for Khmer and Spanish speakers.

While the overall swing against him was 3.95 per cent, polling booths in areas with a strong Bangladeshi community, such as Minto South, achieved a 2 per cent swing in his favour.

Chris Bowen defied expectations by holding his multicultural seat of McMahon. At some polling booths he recorded swings in favour as high as 6.13 per cent at Fairfield Heights.

NSW ALP assistant general secretary John Graham said the results were better than those achieved in western Sydney at the 2011 state election.

He said the Liberal candidate for Greenway, Jaymes Diaz, became an ”international embarrassment” but the 3 per cent swing to Michelle Rowlands was also the result of a strong grass roots campaign in an area with Indian and Chinese communities.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Mr Diaz had conceded defeat in the seat in a statement issued through the NSW Liberal Party.

A senior Labor source said NSW Labor had been ‘‘absolutely terrified’’ about the result in Western Sydney based on internal polling results.

‘‘There were two things that happened to turn it around for us – the ground campaign and the ethnic vote has stuck with Labor,’’ the source said.

Labor has targeted the ethnic vote in western Sydney for more than a year, but ‘‘ruthlessly’’ focused on seats in most trouble, in recent weeks.

NSW Labor’s general secretary, Jamie Clements, said Labor’s result in western Sydney was largely due to the success of a call centre in Parramatta and its large number of volunteers.

The call centre was modelled on the grass roots approach taken in Barrack Obama’s election campaign.

‘‘They used the one-on-one phone contact to get people to go to the polls. We called undecided voters and … we asked Cantonese speakers and Chinese speakers to call people in their own communities.’’

McMahon and Werriwa, which have high concentrations of Vietnamese and Assyrians, were struggling in the polls and 15 per cent of people were found to be voting informally.

‘‘We figured out it was a problem with people not understanding they needed to number every square,’’ Mr Clements said. ‘‘They are with us, so we thought if we could educate people on how to vote, we could drive our vote up, which is what we did.’’

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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