New and improved

The Poll Bludger had hoped to re-launch his long-neglected Western Australian lower house election guide complete with predictions of the outcome in each seat, but still does not feel brave enough to take the plunge. The page has accordingly been reupholstered with corrections, full candidate lists and campaign updates, but the crystal ball will remain on ice for at least a few more days. Most of the campaign updates derive from earlier blog coverage, but the following qualify as new material:

Ballajura (Labor 4.8%): One of the great mysteries of the campaign has been the Liberal Party’s apparently blasé attitude towards this classic marginal seat. Their candidate, endorsed a week before the election was announced, is 24-year-old David Maxwell, touted as a manager in the retail industry who did a year as an articled clerk with a Perth law firm. No doubt he is a fine young man with a bright future, but he lacks the credentials and experience normally expected from a candidate taking on an established member in an important marginal seat.

Collie-Wellington (Labor 2.6%): As in other regional electorates, Labor has been arguing that the Coalition’s canal commitment raises doubts over its ability to deliver on local campaign promises, while the Liberals have been suggesting that Labor’s preference deal with the Greens would have included an agreement to scotch a new coal-fired power station for the area. On February 13, the Sunday Times reported it had been leaked details of Liberal candidate Craig Carbone’s drink driving record, saying it had been told four convictions were recorded against him. Carbone admitted to having a conviction and said he would complain about the leak to the police commissioner.

Darling Range (Liberal 0.6%): John Day’s support for abortion reform legislation in 1999 again came back to haunt him when Family First announced it would direct preferences against him. Day earlier required state council intervention to overturn a preselection defeat at the hands of pro-lifer Frank Lindsey. Also affected is fellow Court government minister Kim Hames, now contesting the fairly safe seat of Dawesville after losing Yokine in 2001.

Kalgoorlie (Liberal 1.0%): The field of candidates includes trans-sexual Hay Street brothel owner Leigh Varis-Beswick, who was on Kalgoorlie-Boulder City Council from 1999 to 2003. Varis-Beswick is evidently headed for an easy victory, because a vox pop in Kalgoorlie Miner on February 8 had three out of four respondents saying they would vote for her. Labor’s promise that any future one-vote one-value reforms would not affect the Mining and Pastoral upper house region suggests they believe they are in the hunt, as this is the region’s only truly marginal seat.

Murray (Labor 0.7%): Paul Murray reported in his column in The West Australian on February 12 that Murray was "the new litmus test seat", now that it appears that Labor may hang on to power despite being headed for defeat in Bunbury.

South Perth (Independent 14.1%): Jim Grayden, son of local legend Bill Grayden, is running as an independent in a seat that the Liberals appear certain to recover with the retirement of independent member Phillip Pendal. Grayden is one of many to have registered displeasure at the Liberal Party’s preselection process in the seat.

Southern River (Labor 10.4%): After investigating numerous other avenues for more attractive seats, former Liberal MP Monica Holmes will again contest the seat she lost in 2001 and which has since been rendered unwinnable by the redistribution.

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.