Parts of the Poll Bludger’s Western Australian election guide could do with an update, and will get one either tonight or tomorrow. Among the new additions will be the following revelations courtesy of Colleen Egan of the Sunday Times and retiring independent MP Larry Graham:
Alfred Cove (Independent 8.2% vs LIB): Colleen Egan provides results from a Patterson Market Research survey showing that independent Janet Woollard is likely to keep former Court government minister Graham Kierath out of parliament by retaining this normally safe Liberal seat, in keeping with the long-held expectations of the Poll Bludger which have not been universally shared elsewhere. The figures quoted by Egan are 26 per cent for Kierath, 25 per cent for Woollard and 17 per cent for Labor. Clearly the undecided have not been distributed, but it is plain that on these figures Woollard would easily defeat Kierath on Labor preferences.
North West Coastal (Labor 5.4%): As Labor member for Pilbara from 1989 to 2000 and independent member since, Larry Graham knows a thing or two about politics in the north. Graham is retiring at the coming election and has lately been contributing reams of revealing copy to local newspapers. This week readers of the Northern Guardian were told that North West Coastal, a new electorate with notional Labor majorities of 5.4 per cent on two-party preferred and 9.6 per cent on the primary vote, was – "for some reason" – "the northern seat the Liberals are convinced they can win". The primary local issues are identified as Labor member Fred Riebeling’s decision to relocate his family to Perth; Hay’s campaigning for a greater share of mining royalties for local councils, on which "Riebeling has either been silent or maintained the Perth party lines" and "must be feeling a little silly as the party has now changed its mind"; and restrictions on fishing in expanded marine parks, which Riebeling has vocally opposed. Graham notes Riebeling’s earlier promise to resign if the Karratha to Tom Price road was not built in Labor’s first term, which it hasn’t been – fortuitously, the affected towns are no longer in his electorate. Graham also reckons that "in the eighties 1.5 to 2 per cent was considered safe, so 5 per cent should be safe enough to maintain a seat against the strongest of challengers" – I’m not sure which eighties he is referring to, but they can’t be the ones in which the Brian Burke-led Labor Party came to power with an 8 per cent statewide swing. Graham does not seem excited about the prospects of independent candidate Lex Fullarton, declaring the seat a two-horse race.
Central Kimberley-Pilbara (Independent 16.2% vs ALP): Graham is even better versed with goings-on in Central Kimberley-Pilbara, which largely coincides with his own existing electorate. In an article for the North West Telegraph, Graham reports that the seat "should be a safe bet for Labor" due to the Pilbara boom and a notional 16.5 per cent margin, but that the party is nervous that "the flow of the Libs, Barry Taylor, and the Greens preferences could see either Taylor or Young defeat Stephens". The scenario Graham paints for a Liberal win involves Young receiving large volumes of preferences from Taylor (a former ATSIC WA chairman) and the Greens, which hardly seems likely. The real threat for Stephens is that Greens preferences might put Taylor ahead of Young, whose own preferences might deliver him the seat if Stephens’ primary vote is substantially below 50 per cent.