Where the action is (city edition)

At last, the long awaited sequel to Monday’s "country edition" specifically focusing on the city seats that Labor picked up at the 2001 election (and ignoring the possibility raised by some that Labor might be doing badly enough to lose seats they have held over a longer period):

Swan Hills (Labor 0.3%): Swan Hills changed hands when Labor was dumped from power in 1993, but the redistribution prior to the 1996 election improved the Liberal margin by 4.6 per cent. Going into the 2001 election, few gave much thought to the possibility that Labor would achieve the 9.7 per cent swing necessary to unseat Court government minister June van de Klashorst. Labor’s candidate was 25-year-old Jaye Radisich, who was about to enter her final year at law school. But as in neighbouring Darling Range, the scale of the anti-Liberal backlash surprised everybody, a 15.9 per cent dive on the primary vote making room for One Nation (10.9 per cent) and Liberals for Forests (5.5 per cent) and delivering a decisive 11.8 per cent swing to Labor. The corresponding federal electorate of Pearce went sharply the other way on October 9, the Liberals increasing 8.8 per cent on the primary vote and 6.0 per cent on two-party preferred. On December 13, Robert Taylor of The West Australian reported that party insiders believed Labor to be "firming" here against the statewide trend.

Mindarie (Labor 1.2%): As a brand new electorate with no incumbency factor in play, Mindarie is even less safe for Labor than its margin makes it appear. Their candidate is John Quigley, currently member for the abolished electorate of Innaloo some distance to the south. As a high-profile police union lawyer, Quigley was no stranger to media exposure before he entered parliament and has become even less so since. He has recently been at the centre of a furious row with The West Australian after he claimed editor Paul Armstrong threatened to "wage a war" against him unless he apologised for his criticism of a report that police officers had let him off with a caution for minor driving offences. Quigley had earlier entered the Coalition firing line after he sent a letter to the deputy police commissioner complaining of the treatment his son received when he was arrested for disorderly conduct at the 2002 Australia Day fireworks celebrations. Liberal candidate Michael Lowry is a former chief executive of mining company Griffin Group.

Joondalup (Labor 3.1%): Labor’s Terry O’Gorman won Joondalup from Liberal incumbent Chris Baker in 2001 with a narrow 0.5 per cent margin after a 6.3 per cent two-party swing. The seat is a rare example of the redistribution doing Labor a good turn, their margin given an extra 2.5 per cent padding. Present indications suggest that O’Gorman will need every bit of it. The key local issue is the Mitchell Freeway, the artery linking the northern suburban coastal corridor to the city. Both parties are promising an extension of the freeway to Burns Beach Road, but the opposition is promising extra funding to provide for the section through the suburb of Connolly to be "cut in" at the same level as adjoining areas, whatever the cost. Those who doubt that the Liberals think this issue is a winner are invited to inspect the effort that has gone into this press release.

Riverton (Labor 3.1%): One of Labor’s many surprise wins from 2001 came with the defeat of Workplace Relations Minister Graham Kierath in this southern suburbs seat. Labor member Tony McRae’s modest margin looks more precarious still due to the government’s abandonment of the Fremantle Eastern Bypass project and its likely impact on heavy freight traffic through the electorate.

Wanneroo (Labor 3.1%): Dianne Guise easily won this northern suburbs seat from Liberal member Iain MacLean with a swing of 7.5 per cent at the 2001 election. She has since kept a reasonably low profile and will be worried over the destination of the 9.5 per cent One Nation vote from 2001. Her Liberal opponent Paul Miles has named his campaign website www.doingtheextramiles.com – get it?

Ballajura (Labor 4.8%): One of the great mysteries of the early part of the campaign has been the Liberal Party’s tardiness in nominating a candidate for this classic marginal seat, in contrast to other seats where they don’t stand a chance. Ballajura was won for Labor in 2001 by John D’Orazio, the high-profile former mayor of Bayswater who tried unsuccessfully to unseat Liberal member Rhonda Parker at the 1996 election before succeeding on the second attempt with a 5.0 per cent swing.

Mandurah (Labor 7.7%): Technically a non-urban seat, being in the South West upper house region, though considered urban by most normal standards. Labor member David Templeman’s margin here has been padded from 4.9 per cent to 7.7 per cent with the redistribution, but is still less than the 7.9 per cent swing he achieved to win the seat in 2001. One reason to think that voters in the electorate might return to old habits is the impact of the mortgage broking scandal on the 2001 result, Mandurah being home to a large retiree population.

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.