Labor powerbroker and federal MP Stephen Smith was quoted in The West Australian this morning saying his party was behind going into the final week of the state campaign. This is standard operating procedure for the Western Australian ALP, which in 1996 went so far as to concede defeat before polling day. Reporter Robert Taylor adds meat to the bones of Smith’s claims:
Recent Labor polling is believed to be calling a metropolitan-wide swing to the Liberals of about 1.5 to 2 per cent. If that were to hold in a uniform way, the seat of Swan Hills, at 0.3 per cent, and the new electorate of Mindarie, nominally Labor by 1.2 per cent, could fall. But coalition strategists list neither seat high on their lists of possible wins. After Bunbury, which is expected to fall, and Albany, where polling for the National Party is believed to show incumbent Peter Watson at risk, the coalition sees Geraldton and Murray, based around Pinjarra, as its best chances of wresting seats from Labor. The Government has poured money into Geraldton in the past four years and lawyer Shane Hill is regarded as a quality local member but both sides expect a sizeable swing to the coalition in country areas and on a margin of just 2.7 per cent, Mr Hill could fall victim. In the city, the coalition believes Joondalup and Riverton are stronger winning chances than Swan Hills.
This actually suggests that it is the Coalition which has its work cut out for it, as it must win five of the seven seats named to form a minority government. It also emboldens the Poll Bludger in his predictions, despite recent charges of unadventurousness, since seats that are line-ball going into the final week tend to fall the way of the government and/or the sitting member.
Also from Robert Taylor today was an acerbic piece on yesterday’s Labor campaign "launch", which included jibes to the effect that Tony Dean will not retain Bunbury for Labor and Graham Kierath will not recover Alfred Cove for the Liberals. Assessments have also emerged from two retiring independent MPs – Phillip Pendal, ex-Liberal independent member for South Perth, wrote in The West today that the Liberals are "quietly upbeat" about Geraldton as well as Albany and Bunbury, while Larry Graham, oft-quoted member for Pilbara and one-time Labor man, told Paul Murray on 6PR that he felt Labor to be in the "better position".