Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in WA

State Newspoll bonanza, episode four. The latest quarterly survey of Western Australian state voting intention has Labor’s two-party lead increasing from 53-47 to 54-46; on the primary vote, Labor is down one point to 41 per cent, while the Coalition is down three to 35 per cent. One way of looking at this result (which was replicated last month by Westpoll, who we haven’t heard from for a while) is that it points to a landslide Labor win; another is that it could have been even worse for the Coalition under the circumstances. Tellingly, Troy Buswell’s dissatisfaction rating has rocketed from 34 per cent to 52 per cent in the first Newspoll since the chair-sniffing revelation in late April (though it was partly conducted earlier in the month). The beneficiary of the majors’ decline has reportedly been the Greens, who apparently have built further on their increase from 8 per cent to 12 per cent in the previous survey (The Australian has yet to give an exact figure).

What follows is a quick review of events in Western Australian state politics since the last published poll. Parental guidance is advised.

May 19. Former Police Minister Bob Kucera quits the Labor Party after being defeated for preselection, threatening to run as an independent in Nollamara or Mount Lawley. Also dumped is upper house member Batong Pham, who has been confined to a wheelchair since suffering an aneurysm in June 2007. Pham’s defeat prompts a bitter attack on Alan Carpenter by Pham’s New Right faction colleague John D’Orazio, recently readmitted to the party against Carpenter’s wishes after being cleared of improperly using his influence during his own spell as Police Minister.

May 20. The West Australian reports Malcolm Turnbull has urged Julie Bishop to switch to state politics to replace the “unelectable” Troy Buswell. Bob Maumill, local radio veteran and friend of Brian Burke, airs claims that an unidentified minister exposed his Prince Albert (link not safe for work) during what The West described as a “gathering of the Government’s luminaries”. Another minister is said by Maumull to have invited a policy officer for a ménage à trois. Maumill also says he knows of three “impeccable” sources who corroborate claims Carpenter lifted the shirt of outgoing MP Jaye Radisich at a karoake night in 2004.

May 23. A former government adviser tells The West Australian she was the recipient of the aforementioned ministerial threesome proposition, and identifies the proposer as Energy Minister Fran Logan. On refusing to sack Logan, Carpenter is reminded of his response in February to the Buswell bra-snapping revelation: that “parliament should not be cast as a boys’ club where the behaviour of sexist yobbos is not just tolerated but is rewarded”.

May 26. Buswell’s predecessor as member for Vasse, Bernie Masters, says he is “seriously considering” running against him at the coming election. Masters quit the Liberal Party ahead of the 2005 election after losing preselection to Buswell, and fell 210 votes short of retaining the seat as an independent.

June 4. Former Labor MP John Halden is dumped as campaign manager for lobbyist colleague Karen Brown, Alan Carpenter’s hand-picked candidate for the new seat of Mount Lawley, after admitting to receiving Cabinet leaks from public servants.

June 5. An explosion at Apache Energy’s Varanus Island plant ushers in the state’s ongoing gas crisis.

June 10. The Corruption and Crime Commission finds that Shadow Road Safety Minister John McGrath moved a parliamentary motion provided to him by Brian Burke, but clears him of misconduct (also cleared over dealings with Burke are Labor members John Quigley and Ben Wyatt). Buswell’s refusal to sack his lieutenant angers upper house Liberal Anthony Fels, who was dumped in February 2007 over a similar transgression involving Noel Crichton-Browne.

June 12. Rob Johnson, Shadow Police and Justice Minister and bitter foe of Troy Buswell, is dumped from the front bench after threatening to resign unless McGrath is sacked.

June 15. Buswell strips McGrath of his road safety portfolio in the reshuffle following Johnston’s departure.

June 17. Buswell survives a spill motion for the second time in seven weeks. Anthony Fels introduces the motion despite having failed to interest his prospective challenger, Matt Birney, and it is defeated by 21 votes to eight. The motion is seconded by Shadow Environment Minister Graham Jacobs, who then quits his shadow cabinet and parliamentary whip positions.

June 19. Paul Omodei quits the Liberal Party. Liberal upper house MP Peter Collier reacts to the news by sending out a text message reading: “Omodei has resigned from the party. Three to go.”. This is presumed to refer to Rob Johnson, Graham Jacobs and Anthony Fels. Among those sent the message, presumably unintentionally, is Omodei himself. Omodei refuses to rule out running at the election as an independent, either in Blackwood-Stirling (the successor to his existing seat, where he has probably burned his bridges by refusing the option of contesting as Liberal candidate), Vasse (Buswell’s seat) or South West (the upper house region for which he failed to secure a winnable seat on the Liberal ticket).

June 20. Dan Sullivan, one-time Liberal deputy leader who quit the party in February after failing to secure preselection under the new electoral boundaries, unveils his curiously named new party, Sullivan has apparently failed to interest Johnson, Fels, Jacobs and Omodei in the venture. Those who might be on board, according to The West’s Kate Campbell, include former One Nation members John Fischer and Frank Hough, and former federal Labor MP turned One Nation candidate Graeme Campbell.

June 26. John D’Orazio quits the Labor Party, joining a cross-bench that has swollen from two members to eight since the 2005 election. He announces he will run as an independent against former Channel Seven journalist Reece Whitby, Carpenter’s hand-picked candidate for the new seat of Morley. Yet another former Labor independent, upper house MP Shelley Archer, says she is “likely” to run against Labor MP Carol Martin in Kimberley, while The West reports that Bob Kucera is “expected” to announce he will run against Labor candidate Janine Freeman in the new seat inner northern suburbs seat of Nollamara. A Liberal Party executive meeting reportedly considers disendorsing Johnson and Jacobs in their seats of Hillarys and Eyre.

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.

45 comments on “Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in WA”

  1. IT doesn’t look good for the Libs at all, while The Greens may do weel in the Upper House, I don’t think they’ll get any lower house seats.

    Re D’Orazio – It’s only one or two branches in his electorate that he has any influence, and I don’t think he has Personal Electorate-wide support.

  2. William,

    You failed to mention that The Libs may decide to disendorse Rob Johnson and Graham Jacobs as Candidates, which will make for an interesting contest for the Libs.

  3. Westpoll is sometime next week.

    There was Liberal preselection decisions going on (i think). Dont know what happened with jacobs and johnson.

  4. ”Mr Moore accused Mr McGinty of trying to financially ruin the Liberal Party by making it harder for people to donate to it and remain anonymous.”

    Would it also not be harder for people to donate to the Labor Party therefore financially killing themselves. Its not the individuals that this electral reform is directed at.

  5. I heard a rumour that Buswell is about to be challenged for the leadership by Ann of WA. EXPECT to BE HEARING a lot OF news in FUTURE in CAPITALS with a lot of EXCLAMATION marks!!!!

  6. [I heard a rumour that Buswell is about to be challenged for the leadership by Ann of WA. EXPECT to BE HEARING a lot OF news in FUTURE in CAPITALS with a lot of EXCLAMATION marks!!!!]


    That’s priceless- especially to those posting on The Worst of Perth in regards to WA Today 🙂

  7. What an intolerable mess for the Liberal Party. How did they let themselves get into this? At least the party was somewhat respectable under Colin Barnett (at least comparably).

    I hope they receive the defeat they deserve this year to tell them they need to put the interest of Western Australians above their own positions in the party.

    What an embarassment. Quite possibly the worst Opposition in the country.

  8. William.

    You’ve mistaken the Greens SA vote for the Greens WA vote. The Greens SA have gone from 8 to 12 (which is pretty incredible for SA), but in WA we’ve gone from 12 to 16. Yes, that’s more than a full quota in the new six-member upper house regions.

    Would that give the Greens six seats, or is there a chance they could get a second in Giz Watson’s region, whichever one that is?


  9. I think Buswell can take a lot of the credit for this result. Alan Carpenter must want him to have the job for life. ROTFL

  10. #7

    Possibly it means under the current ALP government that businesses would be reluctant to put their head up and identify themselves as Liberal bankrollers. Under the Liberal government, this would not be such a problem for Labor since they also have the unions as a funding source.

  11. #10

    The Nationals hold the current seat of Stirling, half of the new Blackwood-Stirling. Either he didn’t want a 3 cornered contest or didn’t think he could win against the sitting National.

  12. “Troy Buswell’s dissatisfaction rating has rocketed from 34 per cent to 52 per cent” says William.

    Surely this doesn’t mean 48 per cent ARE satisfied, and would be prepared for the state to be led -and represented overseas, where his bra and chair antics were widely reported- by this buffoon?

    Despite the dysfunction in the parliamentary ALP, it will wipe the floor with the Liberals at the next election. The Newspoll figures will be just one more spur to Alan Carpenter. He may wait another month to see how much his own personal approval rate has risen since his adroit handling of the gas crisis -and to give Buswell a chance to destroy more of his party- then announce a date. After the election, the opposition members will be able to meet in the back of a stretch limo.

  13. Being not at all familiar with West Australian affairs, I’d wonder why anyone could vote for Buswell! Alan Carpenter seems very competent in comparison!

  14. Don’t hold your breath for a snap poll. The parliament is having a regional parliamentary sitting in Bunbury on 9 September. Bunbury’s a key marginal seat and the constitution effectively prevents any newly elected Parliament sitting before 1 September. An election now would probably see that sitting cancelled. That and the uncertainty of gas supplies in mid-winter becoming an issue suggests to me that mid to late October is the earliest time for an election.

  15. Ben, even 16% would probably only get us five upper house seats. The vote in the Agricultural region will be well below the rest of the state (probably not much over half). We got up there in 2001, but that was because of preference flows that are unlikely to be repeated.

    While a 16% statewide vote would give us a fair bit over a quota in Northern Metro we wouldn’t be much over 20% at best, so the 2nd spot would be very hard to get from 1.2 quotas.

    On the other hand I do think 16% would put us in with a probability of getting some lower house seats. 16% statewide would mean something like 32% in our best seats and we’d be in with a real shot.

    Let me stress all this is just hypothetical on *if* we got 16%. It will take more than one poll to convince me that we will achieve that, but I’m certainly hopeful of a decent swing.

  16. This poll is actually more like 56-44. Newspoll uses last election’s overall pref flow, without distinguishing between minors. If Labor gets 3/4 of Greens prefs (16) and a bit under half of others (8), then it’s Labor 41 + 12 + 3 = 56.

  17. I’m with Ben and Stephen.


    The Greens are in double digits in every state. That’s a first. Shame nobody’s polled the ACT in a while, their politics are completely beyond me and I have no idea how they’ll vote… but it’d possibly be another double digit figure for the AGs, given Tucker’s performance in the Senate poll last November.

    (And the usual disclaimer: these are all single polls, a long way away from any kind of election. SA and QLD have only just hit the double digits and it could well be within the margin of error. Still, we get to enjoy it, no?)

    As much entertainment as all this is, WA needs a good govt during the mining boom, and while (from what little I know) Carpenter has some merit, I’m worried that the Oppn in WA will turn into the Pineapple Libs – 8 members, 2 factions, all just a little bit too comfortable for the government. Thank goodness the NSW Libs are making a little bit of sense now (only a little, mind you). The Greens aren’t quite ready to take on the official mantle of opposition.

    Give it a few years. 😀

  18. In most cases they are all single polls, but I think that you can see a trend in that they have all gone up together. And in NSW there have now been three polls this year, with 14%, 14%, 13%. That’s pretty convincing.

    Also, there’s not a lot of room to move in SA and Qld. In both states we’re not really in a serious position to pick up lower house seats, Qld has no upper house and the SA upper house has so few seats that the Greens would have to do very badly to not get a second elected in 2010 to join Mark Parnell (elected in 2006) but would have to do incredibly well to get two elected, so not very interesting.

    But the polls in NSW would give us 5 in the upper house, and in a very strong position in Balmain and Marrickville, and Victoria and WA could give us a clean sweep of one in every UH region. I’ve never heard discussion of lower house seats in WA. What would the seat be to target?

  19. A back-of-the-spreadsheet calculation revealed three seats that polled over 15% for the Greens in the 2005 WA election.

    1. Cottesloe (16.55%) – Liberal Colin Barnett retiring
    2. Nedlands (15.85%) – Sitting Liberal is now an Independent.
    3. Fremantle (15.83%) – ALP seat.

    Does anyone know if any of these have a shot? There doesn’t seem to be a seat that correlates with the Balmain/Marrickville/Melbourne/Richmond model, is it just that WA has less seats, or is Perth just different, or is it that the Greens WA haven’t targeted lower house seats?

  20. All

    re LA seats for the Greens in WA. The issue is breaking the 20% barrier. While Cottesloe has always looked like a good shot, the ALP vote always seemed to hold up. Nedlands looks good because of the 2001 by-election, but that was off a low turnout, an ALP candidate not trying and a boost from Libs4Forests. Fremantle has always been the one that Jim Scott thought was winnable, but the Green vote went down at the last election with Jim standing so I’m not convinced its that good a chance.

    In answer to Ben’s question re targetting, there hasn’t really been seats to target other than Fremantle and Cottesloe and they don’t correspond to the inner-city model seen in NSW & Vic. This hasn’t meant that campaigning hasn’t happened (far from it – Jim retiring to run in Fremantle was to try and get some impetus and threaten McGinty) & Steve Walker has run in both Cottesloe & Nedlands (although I hear lost preselection in South Metro to Lynn McLaren) with the idea that it might yet be possible. The real issue is there isn’t the population to build the concentration of inner-urban Green-leaning voters that you seen in NSW & Vic. They vote still tends to be more evenly spread.

    But as Stephen @19 says – “IF” if the Greens gets 16% – imho you should take a poll like this and then consider it as losing 1/3 back to the majors come voting time. That would give the Greens a vote of 10-11% and a shot at the 3 metro LC seats, a chance in the South West, and the opportunity to build a couple of LA seats over 20%.

  21. The high Green vote in Fremantle goes back to the early 1980s and David Parker rolling John Troy for Labor pre-selection. A lot of ex-Laborites ended up backing Jo Vallentine and the NDP who morphed in the WA Greens in the late 1980s. I’m not saying the Greens are just old Labor lefties because they are not. But the Fremantle vote is a bit like inner-city Green vote in Sydney and Melbourne in that it draws a lot on disenchanted left-Labor voters and members.

    The other Green hot spot is usually around Margaret River where they can bet more than a quarter of the vote. That is now in Vasse, Troy Buswell’s seat, and if Paul Omodei or Bernie Masters run, Green preferences could cause havoc.

    The high Green vote in Liberal seats goes back to the logging debate that spawned liberals for Forests. I can’t see it getting much higher, especially in Nedlands where Sue Walker has become an Independent.

    The WA Nationals are also much greener than in other states, and the Greens have been known to direct preferences to the Nationals before Labor in the upper house, and certainly ahead of the Liberals in lower house contests.

  22. I’d be interested to know how the WAFAMILYFIRSTDOTCOM party polled. They would surely be set to capture a few unhappy Liberal voters.

    I’m curious, though. How can Newspoll/The Australian measure a “Coalition” result, when in fact, there is no coalition agreement? Bizarre.

  23. Don’t forget the Greens polled 14.67% in Kimberley and 9.02% in Central Kimberley – Pilbara.

    With Archer runing as an independent for Kimberley maybe the Greens might be in with a chance:-)

  24. You’ve mistaken the Greens SA vote for the Greens WA vote.

    Not quite – I said the Greens were 12 per cent in the previous poll. I did not actually have a figure for the Greens at this one at the time I wrote this.

    Why did Omodei reject the option of contesting Blackwood-Stirling as the Liberal candidate?

    Because he feared losing to the Nationals. As the name suggests, the seat is largely a merger of Warren-Blackwood and Stirling, the latter of which has always been a Nationals seat.

    Would that give the Greens six seats, or is there a chance they could get a second in Giz Watson’s region, whichever one that is?

    Watson has been able to win her seat in North Metropolitan not because that area is especially green, but because it used to elect seven members rather than five (ditto South West region, where Paul Llewellyn is member). Watson’s position had been weakened by the introduction of malapportioned six-member regions at the Greens’ insistence (not the smartest move from their own perspective – I’ve heard much grumbling from Greens about this, with former Senator and MLC Dee Margetts nominated as the culprit), so their strong polling is very good news for her. It also suggests they are likely to win seats in South Metropolitan and East Metropolitan, and are a good chance in South West and Mining and Pastoral. The remaining region, Agricultural, is Injun country as far as the Greens are concerned (Margetts’ win here in 2001 was due to the one-off of One Nation preferences).

  25. Yes, I could never understand the point of making the regions elect even-numbered candidates, which makes it very tough for a minor party candidate to win.

  26. Ah but we have canvassed that discussion fully previously (you know, “state Senate”, equalisation between regions etc)

  27. This is Telling.

    [The West Australian Liberal Party faces disaster if not annihilation at the next election, political analysts say.

    In today’s Newspoll, 52 per cent of voters show dissatisfaction with Liberal leader Troy Buswell, who survived a recent leadership spill after admitting to sniffing a staffer’s chair and snapping another woman’s bra.

    The opposition leader’s satisfaction rating is 26 per cent compared with Premier Alan Carpenter’s rating of 53 per cent.

    “When leaders of the opposition or the government have a dissatisfaction rating above 50 per cent, you know you’re heading for electoral annihilation,” Edith Cowan University senior lecturer Peter van Onselen said today.

    “That’s the most important figure in the poll.

    “To actually have over half the voters registering a solid dissatisfaction vote with the leader of the opposition is an incredibly telling result.”

    Political author David Black says a surge in support for the Greens – from 12 to 16 per cent of the primary vote – reflects a general disquiet with both parties, but will only help Labor in the end.

    “I’m quite surprised at the size of it, I can’t quite imagine their (the Greens’) vote is that high,” Prof Black said today.

    “But nevertheless … in the federal election … in most seats something like 80 per cent of people who voted Greens gave their eventual preferences to the Labor party.”]

  28. If Graeme Jacobs is disendorsed I would expect that seat to go to him as an independent or the National Party candidate Suzie Williams, a former Kalgoorlie-Boulder councillor.

    I see Kalgoorlie as a four-way contest between Labor, Liberal, National and John Bowler.

    Metro media is discounting the Nationals candidate Tony Crook, but they don’t know the dynamics of the seat or the level of his personal popularity.

  29. Dear fellow Green commentators,

    I’m interested in exploring some of these issues in more detail (and not just about WA). However, I don’t think most of the commentators here are interested in see large chunks of Pollbludger being taken over as Greens-specific discussions, and there might be some things we want to say that might be altogether too interesting for some others.

    Would people be interested in setting up a national Greens psephology e-group to dig into these issues in more detail, thus saving some of William’s bandwidth?

  30. Because he feared losing to the Nationals. As the name suggests, the seat is largely a merger of Warren-Blackwood and Stirling, the latter of which has always been a Nationals seat.

    What a coward.

  31. Omodei, in my estimation, sees himself going down, emasculated of the political virility that he possessed (his belief, not mine)and he puts the blame squarely on Buswell and the ingrates in the Liberal party.

    To him, twenty odd years of seat warming (my interpretation, not his) entitled him to the leadership, and he feels he was robbed of his just reward. Relative to the other incompetent poltroons and lickspittles in the Parliamentary Liberal Party, he probably was.

    In any event, his make up will not permit him to go quietly. Lke his mirror in the Labor Party, John D’Orazio, he will do as much damage and mischief in retaliation as he can.

    I predict he will stand against Troy Buswell in his electorate, and in so doing will ensure that Buswell follows Howard in bearing the ignominity of being one of the very few political leaders in this country to lose his own seat.

  32. [I predict he will stand against Troy Buswell in his electorate, and in so doing will ensure that Buswell follows Howard in bearing the ignominity of being one of the very few political leaders in this country to lose his own seat.]

    Espically since Buswell won the seat by a few hundred votes at the last election.

  33. Stephen L,
    This non-Green is quite interested in insider/supporter views about the Greens. By all means, proceed with your idea for a more exclusive Greens blog, but don’t (out of courtesy to others and to William) deny us the benefit of your thoughts.
    While William may have his own views, I think that there’s a few contributors (especially on the US politics threads) who should be more considerate of our fabled host, than any polite Greens!

  34. Stephen L, that sounds like a great idea. I’d definitely be interested, and I’d love to hear the thoughts of other Greens/non-Gs on that. The Senators blog at is great on policy detail and for understanding the stories behind the debates etc etc, but a Green-psephophile blog or group would provide a good place for the kind of debate you suggest.

    Though I’m also with Peter – I don’t think I’ll be leaving the PB any time soon, it’s always a wealth of info & opinions.

  35. Mr Omodei had at least 2 options
    standing for his existing seat against a NP MP
    but remember he has represented half the seat for a long time
    or standing against Labor in Albany as the lib candidate…. labor needs to improve their vote 2-3 % there just to keep the seat
    the fact that He did not suggests either he thought he could not win either contest or relations within the liberal party are so bad that he could not stay
    a contest against Mr Buswell would again suggest the same thing

  36. Buswell had a disaffected former MP who lost the seat to him in preselection stand against him last time, and Buswell won. Omodei wouldn’t carry as much support there as the previous member. If you check,you’ll find Buswell’s quite a popular local member. Ditto Albany, Omedei wouldn’t be regarded as a local and would have far less chance than the endorsed candidate.
    I find it bizarre that this place and various others has the Liberal opposition responsible for the mess in education, health, energy and a few other areas, Carpenter and the ALP seem to be free of responsibility. Nobody who gets stuck into Buswell ever questions his ability to do a better job of running the state.

  37. Just to clarify, I wasn’t suggesting Greens should en-masse leave pollbludger. It’s a wonderful site and I wouldn’t do without it. However, it does sometimes happen that we take over threads originally devoted to something else, and also that we sometimes find ourselves discussing tactics in ways that perhaps should be out of the eyesight of Lab/Lib readers.

    I wasn’t thinking of a Greens psephology blog (which wouldn’t solve the second problem anyway), just an egroup where we can occassionally take up issues raised in places like this in more detail.

  38. Since there are lots of green supporters here – have the greens laid out their full seat by seat hand for the election? If Alan and Troy are both hopeless in their own way, then you would expect a bumper return for greens?

    Given Team Alan and his ‘whole new labor’ thing (no one has really explained to me the difference except that ‘new labor’ unquestioningly loves Alan) are already certain of victory; it seems to me preference deals might not be quite so easy – would the greens preference swap with Team Troy?

  39. Sure, I am happy to post the Greens Preference Strategy online.

    Do you want my pin number and my home alarm code while I am at it?



    LIBERAL supporters have turned their backs on Troy Buswell – preferring Labor’s Alan Carpenter as Premier.

    Unpublished Newspoll figures from April to last month show 41.9 per cent of 418 Liberals polled preferred Mr Carpenter as Premier, instead of their own man (33.5 per cent).

    Just under 25 per cent of respondents wanted neither Mr Buswell nor Mr Carpenter as Premier…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *