Western front communiqué #6

• One aspect of the Mark Latham descendancy that cannot pass unremarked is its impact on the Western Australian election, not to mention the Western Australian election’s impact on it. While the Queensland Labor leadership’s public interventions got the most press, the Western Australians’ were the most frantic. With a Friday announcement of a February 19 election the only logical course for them to follow, Geoff Gallop’s government faced two possible scenarios going into the campaign – ongoing collateral damage from instability at the federal level if Latham stayed, or a morale-boosting return to prominence for local boy Kim Beazley if he went. It fell to Jim McGinty, Health Minister, Attorney-General and Left faction power-broker, to go one better than Peter Beattie and Bob Carr had yet done with a public demand on Sunday that Latham quit. That achieved, an election announcement is all but certain to follow no later than Friday.

• In other illness-related retirement news, the Albany Advertiser reported yesterday that Cyril Rodoreda has withdrawn as the Liberal candidate for Stirling, which had been looming as one of a large number of interesting contests between the Liberals and the Nationals in the south-west. Nationals member Monty House is retiring after 19 years in parliament, and the party has nominated WA College of Agriculture principal Terry Redman in his place. In keeping with the usual fluidity of conservative politics in the south-west, former Nationals vice-president Vicki Brown, who had been spoken of earlier as the party’s likely candidate, is instead running as an independent.

• For us serious psephologists, the biggest sensation of the week is that Antony Green has made minor adjustments to three of his post-redistribution seat margin estimates. Of these the most exciting is the extra 0.1 per cent breathing space afforded to the Liberals in finely poised Darling Range.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.