SEAT SHOW­DOWN

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

WITH her term in the Se­nate up at the next fed­eral elec­tion, right-wing Lib­eral sources say Con­cetta Fier­ra­vanti-Wells has her sights set on chal­leng­ing fed­eral La­bor MP Chris Bowen for his west­ern Syd­ney seat.

Once La­bor heart­land, Mr Bowen’s mar­gin in the seat of McMa­hon was slashed at the last fed­eral elec­tion to 6.6 per cent.

The seat was among La­bor elec­torates tar­geted by the Aus­tralian Chris­tian Lobby, which be­lieves the Coali­tion to hold a bet­ter po­si­tion on is­sues such as free­doms for faith-based schools.

Fol­low­ing the elec­tion, Mr Bowen de­clared La­bor to have a “reli­gion prob­lem” with many re­li­gious Aus­tralians of the be­lief that the ALP had aban­doned them.

Lib­eral op­er­a­tives say y there has been talk of the party mak­ing a more con­certed ed ef­fort in the seat fol­low­ing the re­sult. The strong “no” vote on same-sex mar­riage also sug­gested a con­ser­va­tive would do well. Sen­a­tor Fier­ra­vanti- iWells (in­set) not only opposes same-sex mar­riage, but has also been pe­ti­tion­ing the Mor­ri­son gov­ern­ment to pass a re­li­gious free­dom act. The Ital­ian-Aus­tralian sen­a­tor is not a stranger in the area, reg­u­larly at­tend­ing the an­nual Ital­ian Repub­lic Day cel­e­bra­tions at the Club Mar­coni. A Lib­eral source said she had been at­tend­ing lo­cal func­tions with eth­nic lead­ers, and had in­di­cated i she was keen to move of­fice.

Last week, ren­o­va­tions were un­der way in a Smith­field of­fice next to NSW La­bor MP Hugh McDer­mott, M spark­ing ru­mours rum that Sen­a­tor Fier­ra­vanti-Wells Fierra had al­ready se­cured new premises.

Adding to the spec­u­la­tion was that the lay­out was the same as that of Mr McDer­mott’s.

“She has been out meet­ing with the lo­cal eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing the Ital­ians, Assyr­i­ans and Viet­namese,” the source said.

“Her term in the Se­nate will be up at the next elec­tion and we think she’s try­ing to get in early to be pre­s­e­lected for a lower-house seat.

“Am sure Hugh is wor­ried, but it is McMa­hon she’ll be after.”

A left-wing Lib­eral source said Sen­a­tor Fier­ra­vanti-Wells would strug­gle tak­ing McMa­hon, de­spite its nar­row­ing mar­gin.

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