Depending on how you define it, Western Sydney contains as much as half of the population of Australia's largest city, spread out over a vast plain stretching eighty kilometres from north to south, and thirty or forty kilometres west to the foot of the Blue Mountains. It's one of Australia's youngest and quickest-growing regions. And as Labor has discovered, it's highly politically volatile.
For decades, Western Sydney was the 'other' Sydney, the home of 'battlers' and 'Westies' who, it was said, lacked cultural resources, amenities and couth. Recently, Western Sydney has become a success story, and it's the region's 'aspirational' voters who've become the quintessential 'new class' of the new millennium. Yet the area is a complex patchwork of hard-won success and enduring, grinding poverty, along with everything in-between. Since the Tampa the region has become notorious for its supposedly uncharitable attitudes towards migrants and asylum-seekers. Yet it's still the number-one destination for new arrivals. Supposedly racked by crime and paranoia, it's also the quintessential Great Suburban Dream, with long stretches of manicured lawns and brand-spanking new project homes. Paradoxes bloom like acacias.
After the 2001 general election, commentators started to struggle to explain what it is that makes Western Sydney 'different'. This volume is the first serious effort to find answers.