27 Feb 2023
The Battle for Parramatta: “Underdog” Katie Mullens takes on Lord Mayor Donna Davis in key seat
The Battle for Parramatta: “Underdog” Katie Mullens takes on Lord Mayor Donna Davis in key seat

The seat of Parramatta is the only New South Wales electorate to have existed continuously since the first Legislative Assembly election in 1856. Once considered a safe Labor seat, Parramatta was claimed by the Liberal Party’s Dr Geoff Lee in the Coalition’s landslide victory in 2011, with a massive 25.8% swing.

Lee has held his spot comfortably since, and is the first Liberal to be re-elected in Parramatta in its single-seat history. Lee has held a number of low-profile portfolios in the Berejiklian and Perrottet Governments, and is currently Minister for Corrections.

Lee announced he would not be recontesting Parramatta last year.

A significant boundary redistribution means Parramatta is almost entirely contained within the City of Parramatta local government area. The electorate gains Silverwater, Newington, Wentworth Point and Sydney Olympic Park, Clyde and Westmead, while losing the Liberal-leaning suburbs of Oatlands, Carlingford, Telopea and Dundas Valley to the neighbouring seat of Epping.

This brings the Liberal margin down from 10.6% to 6.5%

The retiring member enjoyed a strong personal vote. Partly because he was the first person with Chinese heritage to be elected to the Lower House in an electorate where more than one in five residents have Chinese ancestry. Losing a popular member may cut into the narrow Liberal margin.

Labor’s candidate is the Lord Mayor of Parramatta City Council is Donna Davis who was elected to council in 2017 and has been Lord Mayor since January 2022.

Davis has lived and worked in Parramatta for decades, in the public sector and as a staffer to Federal and State parliamentarians. Significantly, Labor leader Chris Minns announced her candidacy alongside a big ticket commitment to build a new high school in Melrose Park.

Her high profile may be why Geoff Lee’s Liberal replacement in Parramatta, local lawyer Katie Mullens, is claiming underdog status. Originally from the small town of Bellbrook, near Kempsey, Mullens moved to Parramatta to study law at Western Sydney University, and has practiced law in locally for the past 15 years.

Mullens says her work as a lawyer is not dissimilar to that of a local member, in that she listens to people’s problems and helps them find a solution. If elected, Ms Mullens says her focus will be on improving the cost of living and helping small businesses.

Other candidates in the running include Ben Hammond (Greens), Rohan Laxmanalal (Animal Justice Party) and Mritunjay Singh (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation).