We keep saying Western Sydney is different – and now the result of the same-sex marriage plebiscite has proven this proposition beyond doubt.
While the rest of the country, even in conservative rural seats, voted Yes, our region had 10 electorates that went the other way.
The population arc from Canterbury/Bankstown, across to Parramatta and Castle Hill, and then southwards through Blacktown, Fairfield, Liverpool and Campbelltown is dominated by gay marriage sceptics.
Paul Keating’s old electorate of Blaxland, now held by Labor frontbencher Jason Clare, recorded Australia’s lowest Yes vote, at 26.1 percent.
Next door in the heavily Islamic seat of Watson, held by Tony Burke, the No vote was almost 70 percent.
In Australia’s most ethnically diverse electorate of McMahon, centred on Fairfield and held by Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, No voters registered a 64.9 percent majority.
Clare, Burke and Bowen each campaigned for “marriage equality” and now plan to ignore the views of their constituents in parliament.
In my old seat of Werriwa, also once held by Gough Whitlam and John Kerin, the Yes vote was just 36.3 percent.
The most valid explanation of the Western Sydney result is ethnicity.
The more multicultural the electorate, the more likely it was to vote No.
During the postal vote period, I spoke to Asian, Greek, Italian and Arabic migrants in South-West Sydney.
I know these people well, having lived in the region for more than half-a-century.
Each of them had the same concern: changing the Marriage Act did not sit well with their family, cultural and religious traditions.
These ethnic groups are rarely asked for their political opinions.
They live in safe seats where their vote is usually taken for granted.
The high turnout rate for the plebiscite was a sign they had become active, finding their voices in a secret ballot.
My Chinese mates told me they were uneasy about the link between same sex marriage and radical gender theory in our schools.
This sentiment also prevailed in the heavily Asian lower North Shore seat of Bennelong (John Howard’s old patch), with a 50.2 percent No vote.
The Southern European migrants I spoke to – each of them successful businesspeople in Western Sydney – didn’t like the idea of tampering with tradition.
They are very committed to their extended family and Christian beliefs.
They don’t like the idea of a social experiment playing around with these sacred institutions.
The Muslim position on gay marriage is well known.
Homosexuality is outside the teachings of the Koran.
While the Islamic community did not feature prominently in the public debate (for fear of upsetting the Left-wing activists who support them on other issues), privately they followed the teachings of their Holy Book.
The net impact of these groups in Western Sydney was a multi-faith rejection of “marriage equality”.
Local residents saw this coming when more than 10,000 No voting Christians gathered at the old Fairfield showground for a rally in early October.
Many traditional Aussies supported them in giving a wonderfully Western Sydney two-finger-salute to political orthodoxy.
As a region, we love running against the herd.
I find this voting pattern incredibly refreshing.
In the past, migrants have been treated as cannon fodder for Labor ethnic branch stacking and fat electoral majorities.
Yesterday these groups showed they have a mind of their own.
It was their political independence day.
They are not under the lock-and-key control of groups like GetUp or gimmicky Halal Senators like Sam Dastyari.
They went against the Leftists script and declared themselves to be citizens, not puppets.
This is the type of mature multiculturalism we should all encourage.
What’s the lesson for Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten?
Western Sydney – the nation’s most empowered No voting region – has serious concerns about the protection of religious freedoms.
Across many faiths, people don’t want to see their fellow believers prosecuted under anti-discrimination laws for failing to cooperate with something they regard as morally wrong: the new institution of same sex marriage.
In a democracy, it’s one thing to celebrate the victory of the majority.
But real leadership lies in more difficult terrain: respecting the views and legitimacy of those who lost.
This article was originally published by The Daily Telegraph.