Service resumes

The Poll Bludger is back in business after a week off line, and will be keeping a close eye on the final stages of the count for the Western Australian Legislative Council before turning attention to the March 19 Werriwa by-election. Late counting in Western Australia has produced no reversals of fortune in the lower house; the Liberals have narrowly won Bunbury and Murray, and independent Janet Woollard has retained Alfred Cove at the expense of Liberal Graham Kierath after an unpredictable preference distribution. Antony Green has published a full analysis of the upper house count based on figures from Thursday, concluding that contests are still in play for the seventh seat in South West, between the Greens and Nationals, and for the fifth seat in Agricultural, between Liberal, the Nationals, Labor and the Christian Democratic Party (the Poll Bludger prematurely called it for Labor in the previous post). Green reports that the prospect of a Fremantle Hospital Support Group boilover in South Metropolian is "receding", since a Liberal revival has made it unlikely that they will stay ahead of the Christian Democratic Party at the crucial point in the count (as discussed in the previous post). Their elimination would unlock a flood of preferences to the Greens who would emerge in front of the CDP but behind Labor, who would ultimately win the seat.

Assuming no sudden revival for the Fremantle Hospital Support Group, that leaves Labor on 16 seats, Liberal on 14, the Nationals on one and the Greens on one, with two in doubt. As far as the Poll Bludger is concerned, the magic number here would be a combined total of 19 for Labor and the Greens, as this would give one-vote one-value supporters an absolute majority on the floor with which to pass constitutional legislation. Since a victory for the Greens appears the more likely outcome in South West, the contest for Agricultural assumes a tremendous importance and the Poll Bludger will be over it like a rash in the coming days. By Green’s reckoning the Christian Democratic Party are currently poised to prevail over Labor at the final count by 1313 votes, although this assumes that all votes are ticket votes. Green thinks the bigger threat to the CDP comes from either the Nationals or (more likely) the Liberals, who need to overhaul a 411 vote deficit against the CDP at a key point in the count to coast home on preferences. Given that a CDP member representing a non-metropolitan region would probably take a dim view of one-vote one-value, the most likely outcome is a replication of the 18-16 deadlock from the previous parliament.

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.