It’s September 6

ABC Radio reports Alan Carpenter will go to Government House this afternoon to call a Western Australian state election for September 6. More to follow: yet-to-be-revised Buswell-era seat-by-seat election guide here. Hat tip to Zombie Mao.

UPDATE: Rather than do any actual work, I am republishing below the bulk of a post from a few weeks ago which was soon superseded by the Westpoll post. Elsewhere: “analysts” rate the snap election decision a blunder; Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times offers a non-exhaustive list of “seats to watch”; audio from ABC state political editor Peter Kennedy and Curtin University academic David Black; analysis from Tony Barrass of The Australian. The Liberals are off to a good start: John McGrath has quit the front bench, after being contentiously retained by Troy Buswell when the Corruption and Crime Commission found he had been involved in dubious dealings with Brian Burke.

When surveying the electoral landscape, one factor asserts itself with a force that makes all the sniffed chairs, snapped bras, lifted shirts and exposed Prince Alberts pale into insignifiance: the “one-vote one-value” redistribution (that at least is how it’s been marketed, but that’s a subject for another time). Going by the post-redistribution pendulum, you would never know that Labor was currently one seat away from minority government (at least when taking into account the three ex-Labor independents, which the pendulum doesn’t do). This is because the notional margins determined by Antony Green suggest Labor would have won 38 seats rather than 32 if the 2005 election had been held on the new boundaries. In the crude terms of uniform swings, the Liberals will need 51.4 per cent of the two-party preferred vote to be in contention for minority government (for a swing of 3.6 per cent), and as much as 2 per cent extra if they’re to go all the way.

2005 Election 24 8 2 34 8 15 23
Redistribution 32 8 2 42 6 11 17

The creation of eight new seats in the metropolitan area was always going to be good news for Labor, which holds 70 per cent of its seats. Even so, it seems remarkable that all eight have found their way to the Labor column. The Liberals do have the marginal new seat of Scarborough, but elsewhere they lose Serpentine-Jarrahdale as part of an unhelpful carve-up of the outer suburbs. An appreciation of the situation can be gained by breaking the area into six pieces: two zones of Labor and one of Liberal heartland, and three where the election will be decided. These are outlined in the map below (indicated by the black lines: the blue ones are upper house region boundaries), with electorates colour-coded to indicate party margins (ranging in Labor’s case from lightest red for under 2.5 per cent to deep red for over 15 per cent).

Inland outskirts. The luck of the draw has turned two Labor and two Liberal seats into three Labor and one Liberal, but all could go either way. Liberal-held Serpentine-Jarrahdale has been divided among four notionally Labor seats, while Darling Range is mixed with abolished Kenwick in a manner that produces one highly marginal seat (Kalamunda) and one that is relatively safe for Labor (Forrestfield). The new seat of Darling Range owes more to Serpentine-Jarrahdale than the old Darling Range, emerging with a slight notional Labor margin.

Riverside and northern beaches. The all-blue strip along the western beaches now accounts for five Liberal seats instead of four, although Labor would win Scarborough in a good year. The riverside seats of Nedlands, Alfred Cove, South Perth and Bateman (formerly Murdoch) have all maintained their identity. Three of the nine seats in the riverside and northern beaches region are held by conservative independents.

Northern mortgage belt. Further north is the volatile mortgage belt, where the new coastal seat of Ocean Reef has muscled in among four existing electorates. All are Labor or notionally so (Kingsley has been left white on the map as it is a statistical dead heat), but most if not all are likely to shift with the next change of government – as the northern suburbs did in 1983, 1993 and 2001.

Eastern suburbs. The really good news for Labor is that there are now 15 seats in its inner suburban heartland from Girrawheen east to Midland and south to Armadale, including the new seats of Nollamara, West Swan, Cannington and Gosnells. The only cost for them is that safe-ish Yokine (margin of 8.2 per cent) has turned into marginal-ish Mount Lawley (5.8 per cent).

Southern coastal. This safe Labor strip is now accommodated by six seats instead of five, with Kwinana created from the south of Cockburn and the north of Peel (the remainder of which is now called Warnbro).

South-eastern. Southern River and Riverton are joined by Jandakot: all are Labor marginals, the margin in Southern River having been cut from 11.8 per cent to 5.1 per cent.

Then there are the cutbacks in the country, which owing to the “large district allowance” have impacted on conservative areas in the south-west (like I said, a subject for another time). The exception is the effective abolition of the vast Mining and Pastoral region seat of Murchison-Eyre (held by Labor-turned-independent John Bowler) and its replacement with Eyre, which more closely resembles the abolished Liberal-held seat of Roe as it includes Esperance and Ravensthorpe. This has involved the transfer of Esperance and Ravensthorpe from the Agricultural upper house region to Mining and Pastoral, cutting Agricultural’s enrolment from 93,886 to 82,479. Thus truncated, the Agricultural region now has four lower house seats in place of seven. As well as the disappearance of Roe, Liberal-held Moore has essentially absorbed Nationals-held Greenough, while the two Nationals seats of Merredin and Avon have merged into Central Wheatbelt.

The South West region has gone from 11 seats to eight, which can roughly be explained as Leschenault being absorbed by Murray (now Murray-Wellington), Capel being absorbed by Vasse and Collie-Wellington (now Collie-Preston), and Liberal-held Warren-Blackwood merging with Nationals-held Stirling to form Blackwood-Stirling. The remaining development to be noted is the expansion of Bunbury, Albany and Geraldton, each of which has shifted from one party column to the other. Bunbury is the largest of the three cities, such that the Liberal-held seat has been able to expand into Labor-voting southern suburbs which were previously accommodated by Capel. Albany and Geraldton on the other hand are Labor-held seats which have had to expand into surrounding conservative rural territory. However, this does not mean they are going to fall into the Liberals’ lap: Labor’s past lack of campaigning effort in the rural areas means they are stronger here than the margins suggest.

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.

278 comments on “It’s September 6”

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  1. Progressive @ 200,

    [Labor has to lose a state election sooner or later!]

    Surely it is more likely that this will happen in NSW than in other states. Not a day goes by in NSW when either the SMH or the Tele (or both) is attacking the government for some stuff-up.

    The only thing stopping the Liberals from winning in NSW is… the NSW Liberal Party, who, even with a decent leader like Barry O’Farrell, still can’t seem to cut through with voters.

    That said, I don’t think the WA ALP Government is in anywhere close to a precarious position as the NSW ALP Government is – so, given the redistributions and the leadership issues in WA, I’m still tipping a comfortable ALP win there…

  2. #198

    “Melinda Poor was accused of being a Liberal Party plant when she infamously called Perth talk-back radio in September to challenge the ALP’s Family Tax Policy. Back then she said the policy would make her family $1800 dollars a year worse off.

    Ms Poor disputes she was put up to it by the Liberals, saying her membership of the party had lapsed at that stage. Now she’s a fully financial member, and tomorrow she’ll CONTEST the seat of Balcatta in northern Perth as the Liberal candidate.”

    Ar you saying it only takes 10 months from being allegedlky a non Liberal , then to be a Liberal who forgets to pay there membership , and then to be an endorsed Liberal candiate

  3. Anything’s possible in today’s Liberal Party. Their current federal leader was a card-carrying ALP member in 1992.

    On the ALP losing somewhere eventually: By my count Labor has now won 21 state and territory elections in a row since 1997. Tomorrow the NT will make it 22. WA on 6 Sept would make it 23 (though I’m not counting that chicken until it hatches). Labor has now become the “default party” at state/territory elections. Unless there is a major scandal or economic collapse, Labor will win. Even the Iemma government, despite all its baggage, would start favourite in my book.

  4. Bird @ 181,

    [If the Nats get 4 or 5 seats and end up with balance of power, I wouldn’t immediately say they’d go for the Libs, or that country voters would destroy them if they did anything else… Karlene Maywald in SA is a Nat minister in an ALP govt, and the voters in her seat don’t seem to mind]

    Errrr, the poll displayed by William this morning would seem to disagree.

    As for Janet Woollard, having watched her in Parliament for 2 years and heard her squawkings after that, as well as knowing the family somewhat, allow me to assure you – certifiable.

  5. Labor was very unlucky in WA in the federal election. There was a statewide swing, and every seat swung to Labor except Cowan and Swan, which Labor lost (while picking up Hasluck for a net loss of one). Cowan was obviously lost due to Graham Edwards retiring. Swan seems to have been a case of a complacent local member, who having survived the Latham election thought he was safe.

  6. With TroyBoy out of the picture it is now Carps who is on the nose. The real question is whether the inevitable swing against Labor will be enough to put down the Govt.

  7. @204

    In no one State or Territory is the recent Labor record genuinely exceptional (I’ve got the data to back this up). The striking phenomenon is that this run of Labor wins has taken in all States and Territories at the same time. This could be the product of a new pattern in Australian politics, affecting all parts of the country, which makes Labor the ‘default’ winner of State and Territory elections, as you suggest. But it could also just be a coincidence.

    (You could make quite a strong case on the historical record that Labor is the ‘default’ winner of Tasmanian elections. Since Labor came on the scene there, the other side has never been able to put together an extended run of election victories.)

  8. there is a theory that Carpenter has a death wish. there is rumour that he is not happy in the job – he is at heart a conscience politician and he has not been allowed any “thinking time”, as Keating put it this week, because he has been busy trying to neuter the Labor factions, weeding out the Burke cronies, and squabbling with a biased local media.

    as for the “what have you done for us lately” question, they have been flashing the cash lately with big new hospital and medical research schemes, and no doubt will be rolling out more ways to spend the windfall from the resource boom. I’m guessing a second gas pipeine might be timely.

  9. Antonio @ 170, I’ll see your Mount Buffalo and raise it with WA’s tallest peak
    -Mount Meharry.

    Labor would do well to remind the electorate that a majority of Liberal members tacitly approved of Buswell’s offensive behavior by twice re-electing him as the most suitable alternative premier, even after it caused international outrage. And pointing out that Buswell would likely be the Treasurer in a Barnett government, and Barnett’s likely successor, can only help the ALP. I’d like to see somene ask Liz Constable if she’d have confidence in Buswell in either role.

  10. #213 has me laughing but it will make dear leader carps very very happy.

    No offense to anyone posting but I’m assuming you aren’t watching WA politics very closely.

  11. “You could make quite a strong case on the historical record that Labor is the ‘default’ winner of Tasmanian elections.”

    Actually, I thought Gunns was the default winner in every Tasmanian election…

  12. At the risk of continuing the sidetracking of this post, I think the point is more Gunns’ alleged/perceived corruption of the process of Government, rather than the hyperbolically expressed stereotype of Green policies.

  13. [ooo Liz Constable is in the shadow cabinet]

    So much for her being an “Independent”

    Labor should be hitting Churchlands with “A Vote For Liz Constable, Is A Vote For Colin Barnett”

  14. ‘Labor should be hitting Churchlands with “A Vote For Liz Constable, Is A Vote For Colin Barnett”’

    erm get real

    Churchlands is bluer than a blue thing in a blueatorium

  15. oh Lordy – Carp’s first policy announcement looks like an appeasement to Howard Sattler. He should have gone on 6PR to announce it

    anyway – it looks like the pork-barrelling has commenced

  16. [oh Lordy – Carp’s first policy announcement looks like an appeasement to Howard Sattler. He should have gone on 6PR to announce it]

    I Know – good move, but I’ll bet Sattler will whinge about it only being available between 10-3pm during the week because it will affect people who leave early for medical appts etc.

  17. since Carpenter’s campaign slogan is “Vision and Stability”, I wonder if he will also be offering old folks free spectacles and zimmer frames.

  18. The “Bedwetter” (Skink’s Term) on Colin Barnett.

    [n February 2005, Colin Barnett asked the people of Western Australia if we would let him run the state. We thought about it and said, “Nope”.

    Three and a half years later, there is an overwhelming sense of deja vu as Mr Barnett prepares for a second crack at the top job.

    He wants us to believe there is nothing he wants more than to be premier. At least, that’s his feeling this week. Last week he wanted to be retired.

    But then on Monday the scandal-tainted Troy Buswell finally sniffed the electoral wind and stepped down from the Liberal leadership. With a poor show of hands for the vacant spot, Mr Barnett shelved plans to tend to his rose bushes and stepped into the breach.

    You’ve got to hand it to him – he’ll still get to head off into retirement after a virtually assured election trouncing, but at least now he’ll do it in style!]

  19. Zombie – that Churchlands comment was hilarious.
    It was certainly no surprise Barnett got Constable on side – I predicted it in a previous thread and even the West picked it up (not to blow my own horn or anything).
    Small business and housing for Buswell – fine – but Treasury seems a bit much to me (again, see previous thread).
    I can’t help but think that the people here are FAR too politically involved to give an accurate impression of popular support (or otherwise) for any given candidate or party.
    As an example – I was lurking here yesterday when I saw the news the election had been called. My reaction – ‘Whoo hoo’ – my co-workers, ‘oh crap’.

  20. And it is confirmed that the Nationals will NOT be part of any coalition.

    [Nationals leader Brendon Grylls has categorically ruled out any coalition with the Liberal Party under his leadership, saying he would pass up a position in Colin Barnett’s Cabinet if the party won the election.

    Mr Grylls told The West Australian yesterday he was not interested in joining forces with city-centric politicians. The aim of the Nationals was to hold the balance of power.

    “I won’t be taking my team of Nationals into a party room dominated by Perth politicians, I don’t mind what political persuasion they are, they are Perth politicians focused on Perth projects,” he said. “I don’t seek coalition — I’m not in discussions, I’m not in negotiations.”]

  21. This should embarrass the Liberals no end 🙂

    [The star Liberal candidate who has been left out in the cold today received some unexpected support from a political opponent.

    Diedre Willmott, the former Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive director who stood down as Cottesloe candidate to make way for returning leader Colin Barnett, would have been a “good contributor” to Parliament, Premier Alan Carpenter said.

    Ms Willmott’s future is unclear, as she will have to find either another electorate or a winnable Upper House spot to enter Parliament.

    Mr Carpenter today said it was difficult to understand how “the best new talent that the Liberal Party has identified has been pushed aside”.

    “Diedre Willmott may well have been… a good Member of Parliament, a good contributor. People can make their own judgements about what’s happened,” he said.

    “It’s almost unbelievable that (after two terms in power) it’s the Government that’s bringing in the new talent.”]

  22. hmm… interesting to see who Carpenter is going to bone if he earns some electoral capital from this

    Radisich has already been given the cold shoulder – maybe Roberts and Quirk will follow McHale and that will be the end of the Stygians

    and another for the “what have they done for us lately” – the unfinished Heath Ledger Pillpoppertorium

  23. jasmine,

    the current web poll running at The Waste has the Libs streaking ahead at 59-32 and you can’t ask for clearer and more unbiased polling than that

  24. [the current web poll running at The Waste has the Libs streaking ahead at 59-32 and you can’t ask for clearer and more unbiased polling than that]

    And Perth Now’s Current polling:

    You have already voted! Here are the results so far:

    West Australians are going to the polls on September 6. Who will you vote for?

    Anybody else
    Total votes
    Total of 2826 votes

    Really Scientific that – you can easily rig thes online polls by clearing your cookies and rebooting your modem to get a new IP address 🙂

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