POLITICS

Anthony Albanese's Grayndler Seat Is The Election's Wildest Race

The inner-Sydney seat pits a progressive against a socialist, and it's getting brutal

11/05/2016 9:36 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Anthony Albanese has a fight on his hands

Labor big gun Anthony Albanese has held his inner-Sydney seat of Grayndler since 1996. It has been held by Labor since it was established in 1949.

In the last election, Albanese received more votes than every other candidate combined, and it would require at least a 21 percent swing for him to lose the seat.

But Albanese appears locked in one of the most interesting -- and sure to be one of the craziest -- races of the 2016 election.

In the battle for the seat, including some of Sydney's trendy inner-west suburbs, he is pitted against Greens candidate Jim Casey, whose background includes firefighting, union leadership, and membership of the International Socialist Organisation, and who seems to have the full backing of his party to wrestle the seat from the famously left-wing Albanese.

Things just got more interesting on Wednesday, with the Daily Telegraph newspaper splashing its front page with its campaign to return 'Albo' to Grayndler and keep Casey from parliament. This tweet from Telegraph editor, Christopher Dore:

So what's going on?

The campaign in Grayndler began months before the election was officially called last weekend, with Albanese slamming his Greens challenger as having "no local involvement, no local record, nothing to point to" way back in January.

"The Greens political party candidate who has been chosen in this electorate has spent more time in the international socialist organisation than he has in the Greens political party, and if if he was fair dinkum, he'd run as an international socialist and see how many votes he got there," Albanese said.

"It's unfortunate that the Greens have been captured in this area and in NSW by people who have a history in the socialist party of Australia or the international socialists or the socialists workers party and want to use the Green banner to advance an agenda that's about anything but the environment."

Casey told HuffPost Australia at the time that he "[made] no apologies for my socialist ideals."

"Albanese is happy to identify as a left-winger when it suits, him, but it's sad he wants to play this Robert Menzies 'reds under the bed' routine.

"I'm a local firefighter and a family man."

Greens leader Richard Di Natale spent his first day of the election campaign in Grayndler, pushing Casey forward as an alternative to Albanese at press conferences and community meetings.

Albanese wasn't happy.

"It says a lot about Richard Di Natale and the Greens political party during this campaign that they're targeting the electorate of Grayndler rather than targeting a Coalition seat," Albanese said.

"If they say that they're committed to opposing the Coalition Government's conservative agenda, then they might like to try campaigning against Coalition members."

OK, sure; the usual campaign-season barbs and grandstanding. But why is the Telegraph getting its hands dirty?

It seemingly comes back to Tuesday's news about the preference deals that (depending on which media reports you believe) the Liberal or the Labor parties may or may not have cut with the Greens, and whether either party would tap the support of the Greens in the event of a hung parliament.

As we reported, the Greens would be keen to support Labor in a coalition government, while other media reports claim the Greens will preference Liberal candidates over Labor in some seats. Albanese himself has come out against the reports, slamming the Greens.

So the Daily Telegraph supporting one of the most popular Labor members in the country? It seems their dislike for the Greens exceeds even their dislike of the ALP, judging from this pledge that they asked Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten to sign, committing to no coalition with the Greens.

With almost two months of this still to go, expect things to keep getting wild in Grayndler.

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