The draft boundaries for the one-vote one-value electoral redistribution in Western Australia have been unveiled. The table below lists Antony Green’s calculations of the new margins for each seat, along with its most likely contestant at the next election. As you can see, it’s been a pretty good day for the Western Australian ALP. On 2005 election results, the new boundaries would have won Labor 38 seats against 20 for the combined forces of conservatism, which includes two independents. This compares with the last election’s numbers of Labor 32, Coalition 23 and independents two. Reluctant as one might be to criticise the implementation of historic one-vote one-value reforms, this seems a slightly excessive return on Labor’s 52.3 per cent of the two-party vote. For Labor to lose the notional nine seats required to cost it its majority would require a uniform swing of over 4.0 per cent, for a two-party vote of less than 48.3 per cent.
The redistribution creates four safe Labor seats along with four marginals, for a cost of only one abolished Labor seat and three which become notionally Liberal. The Coalition loses five seats and has two that go notionally Labor, in exchange for one very marginal new seat and the three that become notionally Liberal (generously including the line-ball Kingsley). A further seat, Capel, has effectively merged with Collie-Wellington to create the marginal Labor seat of Collie-Preston. The Coalition has its margins boosted in almost every seat it already holds, but has little joy in the existing Labor seats it needs to win, unless you count Collie-Preston.
No fewer than three of the abolished Coalition seats are held by the Nationals. This leaves them only with Merredin and Wagin, although party leader Brendon Grylls purports to be confident of winning Moore, Eyre and Blackwood-Stirling. This sounds wildly optimistic in the case of the latter two, especially considering Blackwood-Stirling will be contested for the Liberals by the current member for Warren-Blackwood, Opposition Leader Paul Omodei. I have yet to crunch the upper house numbers, but it appears the new system of six-seat regions will deliver the Nationals a seat in South West to add to their existing seat in Agricultural. As the ABC puts it, one unlucky MP will be forced horror of horrors into the upper house. Former party leader and Avon MP Max Trenorden might come under pressure to retire, leaving Greenough MP Grant Woodhams to turn his vote-winning ways to Moore (he gained Greenough from a sitting Liberal in 2005) with Stirling MP Terry Redman taking the upper house safety hatch.
Homeless Liberals include Leschenault MP Dan Sullivan, a Matt Birney loyalist who quit the front bench a year ago following a policy dispute with Paul Omodei, along with Capel MP Steve Thomas and Serpentine-Jarrahdale MP Tony Simpson. Simpson or Sullivan might find accommodation in the new marginal Liberal seat of Scarborough, although both are all a long way from the northern suburbs. Thomas will presumably have to try his luck against the formidable Mick Murray in Collie-Preston. Shadow water resources minister John Day suffers a 3.8 per cent hit that leaves his seat of Darling Range with a notional Labor margin of 0.6 per cent; he might instead go for the neighbouring new seat of Kalamunda, although he would only be 0.2 per cent better off. John Castrilli will have no choice but to stand and fight in Bunbury which he won narrowly in 2005 off the back of his high profile as mayor, and which now has a notional Labor margin of 1.2 per cent.
UPDATE: In The West Australian, Robert Taylor reports Trenorden will stand against his leader for the Merredin preselection; Ben Spencer reports Dan Sullivan has ruled out taking on Steve Thomas in Collie-Preston and Murray Cowper in Murray, leaving his career all but over.
Conveniently, the abolished Labor seat of Murchison-Eyre is held by John Bowler, who was forced to resign from the ALP over the Burke-Grill affair (Julian Grill being the previous member for the seat). The Kalgoorlie Miner reports that Bowler is not giving up and is considering running in Eyre, likely to be won for the Liberals by Roe MP Graham Jacobs. Labor’s main losers are Peter Watson and Shane Hill, whose regional city seats of Albany and Geraldton have expanded beyond the town limits into conservative rural territory, and Judy Hughes, who narrowly won the northern suburbs seat of Kingsley in 2005 and has now watched her narrow margin disappear altogether. All represent electorates that have retained their basic identity, and they will presumably be obliged to stand and fight. That leaves eight new seats available to aspirational Labor types, including knife-edge marginal Ocean Reef in the far northern suburbs and Kalamunda in the hills; slightly more comfortable Jandakot and Forrestfield closer to the city; and the glittering new prizes of West Swan, Cannington, Kwinana and Nollamara in various corners of the metropolitan area (you can also add Morley, the successor seat to Ballajura, whose member John D’Orazio was also forced to quit the party).
It should be noted that these boundaries are not yet carved in stone; the Office of the Electoral Distribution Commissioners will be receiving written objections until July 30.
NOTE: Figures in the following table are initial estimates provided by Antony Green. Antony has since updated the figures and published a comprehensive summary at the ABC.
|1.3 (vs LIB)
|7.0 (vs LIB)
Kimberley. Inevitably, this electorate has extended into remote Aboriginal communities in the shires of Derby-West Kimerley and Halls Creek, improving Labor’s position for the addition of 564 Labor to 202 Liberal two-party votes. In 2005, Labor member Carol Martin’s margin was cut from 8.5 per cent to 3.3 per cent, or 590 votes. It should now be 5.0 per cent and 952 votes.
Pilbara. The seat formerly known as Central-Kimberley Pilbara gains Newman and a less cumbersome name. That boosts Labor by 233 votes, almost balancing out the aforementioned loss of Halls Creek and part of Derby-West Kimberley. Labor’s margin goes from 13.6 per cent to 12.2 per cent. Central Kimberley-Pilbara is held by Labor veteran Tom Stephens, who might be due for retirement at the next election.
North West. Takes in the entirety of North-West Coastal, held by Legislative Assembly Speaker Fred Riebeling, plus six shires further inland from Murchison-Eyre. The new voters from the latter area are a dead heat: 327 two-party votes each for Labor and Liberal in 2005. Riebeling’s margin was cut from 5.4 per cent to 3.7 per cent in 2004; it’s maybe 0.1 per cent or 0.2 per cent lower now.
Goldfields. A big-ticket item of the redistribution was how Kalgoorlie, held by former Liberal leader Matt Birney, was going to be dealt with. Most expected that those parts of Boulder that were in Murchison-Eyre would be added to Kalgoorlie, but not so: an amended version of the boundary between Kalgoorlie and Boulder is maintained, with five interior shires from Murchison-Eyre being added to Kalgoorlie to make up the new seat of Goldfields. This adds 444 Labor and 380 Liberal votes. Matt Birney’s margin in 2005 was 2024, so there doesn’t seem to be any insurmountable hurdle to him keeping the seat. Nonetheless, there are rumours that he has sought or attained party membership with a metropolitan branch.
Eyre. The southern part of the old Murchison-Eyre, including Boulder, plus Esperance and Ravensthorpe from Roe. The two areas are respectively extremely strong for Labor and the Coalition, but the latter heavily outweights the former. By my reckoning the margin is about 16 per cent, although that’s inflated by the Liberal-versus-Nationals focus on the contest for Roe in 2005. Graham Jacobs won Roe from the Nationals for the Liberals at that election, and looks the obvious candidate to hold Eyre.
Moore. Greenough has been abolished, in what Adam Carr in comments believes might be a first in WA’s electoral history. The Shire of Greenough has gone to make up the numbers in Geraldton; the rest is merged with the entirety of Moore, along with the shires of Dalwallinu and Perenjori from the north-west of Merredin. The seat should be a tight contest between the Liberals and the Nationals, the former being stronger in Moore and the latter stronger in Greenough.
Geraldton. Inevitably, Labor’s position in this marginal seat (they won by 2.7 per cent in 2001 and 2.1 per cent in 2005) has been undermined by the addition of rural territory beyond Geraldton, including the entirety of the Shire of Greenough. That adds 2588 votes from an area where Labor came third in 2005 with 23.6 per cent of the primary vote compared to the combined Coalition 64.5 per cent. By my rough reckoning, the Coalition would have won by 2.3 per cent in 2005. Coalition presumably means Liberal, although the Nationals gained Greenough from the Liberals at the last election.
Merredin. Moves westwards into abolished Avon, taking in Beverley, York and Northam, potentially created one Nationals seat from two.
Wagin. The abolition of Avon and Roe have respectively pulled this seat northward and eastward, and it also takes two shires from Merredin. Probably looms as the Nationals’ most secure seat.
Albany. A no-brainer, as our American partners in democracy say. The City of Albany provides the right number of voters, so those parts of the municipality that were in Stirling go to Albany. Labor’s only wins here in modern history were in 1971, 2001 and 2005; the last election cut the margin from 3.7 per cent to 1.4 per cent, or 358 votes. Of the 4997 new voters, only 21.6 per cent voted Labor, against a combined Coalition vote of 42.3 per cent. I’m calculating a Liberal margin of 3.1 per cent. For the record, these calculations use 50/50 preference splits and ignore non-booth votes, but they shouldn’t be too far wrong.
Blackwood-Stirling. This new seat gets a little over half of its voters from Liberal leader Paul Omodei’s seat of Warren-Blackwood. The most strongly Nationals-voting part of the Nationals-held seat of Stirling (splitting 65-35 in 2005) accounts for 38 per cent, the remainder coming from the Liberal-held seat of Wagin. Omodei is presumably safe, but the Nationals could win this under the right circumstances.
Vasse. The existing seat of Vasse, which runs along the Geographe Bay coast from Busselton west to Dunsborough, provides two-thirds of the voters in a seat that acquires rural territory to the south from Capel and Warren-Blackwood. The Nationals don’t really register here.
Collie-Preston. The Labor-voting coal mining town of Collie has been detached from the Wellington rural area in the north, which goes to Murray. The increased area of rural territory needed to make up the numbers has come with the absorption of most of Capel to the west, which presumably puts Labor member for Collie-Wellington Mick Murray on a collision course with ambitious Liberal Capel MP Steve Thomas. There are also nearly 4000 new voters from abolished Leschenault who split 58-42 in 2005. The numbers here are a bit hard to read, because the 6.7 per cent swing to Labor in Collie-Wellington in 2005 was widely credited to Murray’s personal popularity, but I calculate a Labor margin of just 0.8 per cent.
Bunbury. Bunbury was a bellwether seat until the last election, when a 0.6 per cent swing delivered it to the Liberals with a 0.4 per cent margin. The redistribution puts it back on Labor’s turf with the addition of the city’s outskirts from Capel in the south and Leschenault in the east (both abolished), producing a 1.3 per cent.
Murray. The existing electorate of Murray only provides 27 per cent of the vote in this seat, fewer than Collie-Wellington (37 per cent) and Leschenault (35 per cent). The Collie-Wellington voters come from the Liberal voting-end of that Labor-held seat, while the Leschenault votes split 58-42 the Liberals’ way in 2005. Add them all together and you’ve got a Liberal margin of around 6 per cent.
Dawesville. The existing electorate of Dawesville makes up the numbers with the addition of an urban area on the Mandurah (northern) side of the Dawesville Estuary. This area split 60/40 Labor’s way in 2005, which is bad news for Liberal member Kim Hames, who loses 3.8 per cent from his 4.1 per cent margin.
Mandurah. Mandurah was held by the Liberals as recently as 2001, but swings (possibly boosted by the Perth to Mandurah railway project) and redistributions blew the margin out to 12.3 per cent in 2005. With the aforementioned loss of territory to Dawesville, old Mandurah provides the new with only half its voters. The rest come from a move into the most populous (north-western) end of Murray, a seat the Liberals gained from Labor in 2005. The area that moves to Mandurah split 52.3-47.7 Labor’s way, so Labor’s overall margin is cut to about 8 per cent.
Southern coastal suburbs. Where formerly there were five safe Labor seats north of Mandurah up to Fremantle Harbour, there are now six. Peel has been abolished, making way for the new Kwinana and Warnbro.
Alfred Cove. A naturally blue-ribbon Liberal seat held by independent Janet Woollard. The only change to the electorate is the removal of a strip of territory immediately north of Leach Highway. The change cuts both ways for Woollard. On the one hand, the area she has lost was relatively strong for her in 2005, splitting 61-38 compared with 54-45 for the remainder. On the other, this area is stronger for Labor than the riverside areas in the north, and her first hurdle for election is overcoming the Labor candidate to win second place. In 2005, she led Labor 30.6 per cent to 27.5 per cent at the second-last exclusion.
Southern suburbs. Inland of the Labor-voting southern coastal strip is a mixed area south of the Canning River. At present, this is filled by Murdoch, quite safe for the Liberals; Armadale and Southern River, both safe for Labor; knife-edge Riverton; and the northern part of Liberal-held Serpentine-Jarrahdale. In this area, Murdoch is succeeded by Bateman; Jandakot takes in various bits and pieces and has a Labor margin of about 4 per cent; Riverton is little changed, with a Labor margin of 1.5 per cent; Southern River sees Labor’s margin severely cut, from 11.8 per cent to about 3.5 per cent; Armadale remains safe for Labor.
Eastern outskirts. At present, Perth’s eastern and south-eastern hinterland is covered by (from north to south) Swan Hills, Darling Range and Serpentine-Jarrahdale. These are respectively 3.8 per cent Labor, 3.2 per cent Liberal and 1.2 per cent Liberal. This area has been rearranged so that Kalamunda takes the area nearest the city; the area behind it is divided between Swan Hills and Darling Range, with Serpentine-Jarrahdale abolished. Every one of the new seats is marginal Labor, making this area a crucial battleground for the next election.
Inner eastern suburbs. It’s here that Labor hits paydirt. Formerly, six safe Labor seats accounted for Perth’s lower-income inner eastern suburbs (from north to south): Ballajura (13.5 per cent), Bassendean (13.7 per cent), Midland (8.5 per cent), Belmont (10.8 per cent), Victoria Park (16.0 per cent) and Kenwick (13.6 per cent). There are now 10 seats covering this area, the only winnable one for the Liberals being Forrestfield, where Antony Green calculates a notional Labor margin of 4.0 per cent.
Northern coastal suburbs. Currently, the area from Whitfords Avenue south to the river contains four coastal suburbs, Hillarys (Liberal 4.2%), Carine (Liberal 4.7%), Churchlands (a naturally Liberal seat held securely by independent Liz Constable) and Cottesloe (Liberal 11.7%), along with the riverside inner west seat of Nedlands (Liberal 8.4%). The redistribution adds Scarborough as the middle layer of a five-seat coastal pancake, squashing Churchlands into northern Cottesloe and Nedlands and Carine north into Hillarys. Antony Green calculates a Liberal margin of 1.0 per cent in the new seat.
Inner city. The city and the area to the north and east were formerly covered by four Labor-held seats: Perth (12.0 per cent), Maylands (16.5 per cent) to the east, and Balcatta (9.8 per cent) and Yokine (8.2 per cent) to the north. The redistribution creates the marginally Labor new seat of Mount Lawley in the middle of the mix, partly from the less safe Labor southern end of Yokine, the remainder of which forms the basis of the very safe new Labor seat of Nollamara.
Outer northern suburbs. The area between Lake Joondalup and the ocean, formerly covered by Mindarie and Joondalup, has been redrawn to create the new seat of Ocean Reef, which deprives Joondalup of its coastal area. This results in a slight strengthening for Labor in Joondalup, which it holds by 3.3 per cent, leaving it with a very narrow margin in Ocean Reef. The new Mindarie takes over the semi-rural part of Wanneroo, adding about 2 per cent to an existing Labor margin of 4.0 per cent. Wanneroo keeps its Labor margin of around 6 per cent. The truncation of Kingsley at both the northern and southern ends makes a small but very significant cut into Labor’s 0.8 per cent margin in the only seat it gained in 2005; the relatively Labor-leaning southern end is now wasted in already safe Girrawheen.
South Perth. This one got lost in the mix. A safe Liberal riverside seat that inevitably loses some territory in its Labor-voting east, giving an unnecessary boost to the margin.