The first poll of Western Australian state voting intention since the Troy Buswell chair-sniffing revelation and resulting spill motion has not produced the Liberal meltdown that might have been expected. In fact, the Westpoll survey shows the Liberals narrowing the gap since March: Labor is down 5 per cent on the primary vote to 39 per cent and the Coalition steady on 38 per cent, while the two-party gap has reduced from 56-44 to 54-46 (the paper says 56 to 46: the primary vote suggests it’s the first part of this that’s wrong). However, it should be noted that Westpoll surveys have small samples (412 respondents in this case) and high volatility, and that the size of Labor’s lead last time was a little hard to credit. The poll also tells us that only 36 per cent support an early election against 57 per cent opposed.
This puts the public at odds with Nationals leader Brendon Grylls, who last week called for the dissolution of a parliament rendered completely dysfunctional by the major parties’ internal squabbles. It was intriguing to hear such sentiments from the leader of a party most thought would be crippled with the imminent introduction of one-vote one-value. Clearly the party is very confident of gaining dividends from the Liberals’ difficulties, most probably in the seats of Moore and Blackwood-Stirling. The latter is the successor seat to Warren-Blackwood, currently held by previous Liberal leader Paul Omodei. Omodei is sufficiently concerned about the Nationals threat that he has abandoned the seat to pursue a berth in the upper house South West region. However, he was initially denied a winnable spot on the ticket, then given one following an appeal, then denied it again by the party’s state conference. His initial reaction to the latter decision was to declare he was quitting the party, but he has instead chosen to pursue a further appeal, with talk of legal action if it isn’t upheld. Omodei has denied reports that he has been threatening to run against Troy Buswell as an independent in his seat of Vasse if he is not accommodated.
As always, it hasn’t entirely been one-way traffic: today The West Australian reports that former Health Minister Bob Kucera has quit the ALP and will contest the election as an independent, complaining the government has become arrogant and complacent. It so happens that the 63-year-old back-bencher has also been overlooked for preselection. His own seat of Yokine having been abolished, he has not yet decided which of its successor seats he plans to contest: Mt Lawley, where the party has nominated former West Australian deputy editor Karen Brown, and Nollamara, where they have nominated Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union official Janine Freeman.
Malcolm MacKerras’s post-redistribution electoral pendulum was published in The Australian on Saturday: this is not available online, but you can read the accompanying article.
UPDATE: That Mackerras pendulum courtesy of Mumble.