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UPDATE: Rather than do any actual work, I am republishing below the bulk of a post from a few weeks ago which was soon superseded by the Westpoll post.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. [Anyone care to guess how many upper house seats the cave-dwelling tofu-eaters will win?]

    4 – North Metro(Giz), South Metro, East Metro and South West(Paul)

  2. From my understanding, the Greens believe North Metro to be the least likely of those four. They’re apparently quite confident of South Metro.

  3. 249 Frank – I remember online polls being conducted by the Daily Terror last federal election showing the Libs were shoe ins on every issue and on voting intentions. If I didn’t know better I’d be thinking the Young Libs were hard at work.

  4. [249 Frank – I remember online polls being conducted by the Daily Terror last federal election showing the Libs were shoe ins on every issue and on voting intentions. If I didn’t know better I’d be thinking the Young Libs were hard at work.]

    Ithink you’re pretty much on the mark, and it’s easy to discguise it as most, if not all Yoiung Libs work in the Corporate world, and have access to PC’s during working hours, and are possibly IT experts running automated scripts to achieve it.

  5. Hmm, Shelley Archer to stand as an Independent in the Upper House – More money wasted by Hubby Kevvie and the CMFEU 🙂

    [SHELLEY Archer will seek to keep her political career alive – but it will be in the Upper House.
    Ms Archer told Perthnow she would not be standing for the lower house seat of Kimberley which is held by Labor’s Carol Martin.

    She would stand as an Independent in the Upper House in the Mining and Pastoral Region.

    Ms Archer, whose term in the Upper House ends in May, said her passion for indigenous affairs had driven her to seek re-election.

    “I believe that the Upper House is where I can make a difference for the region and most importantly for the indigenous people of Western Australia,” she said.],21598,24148767-5017005,00.html

  6. Hmm, from the Crikey Email, Can William please post this for us plebs ? 🙂

    [The timing is cynical, and the odds are stacked against the opposition,
    but don’t write the Liberals off in WA, writes William Bowe.]

  7. These are the Top 10 stories on Perth now and not one of them is a State Election one.

    1. Newman returns serves on MP
    2. Maddie ‘stolen by pedophiles’
    3. Viewers fury at Kate Ritchie
    4. Death threats to AFL stars
    5. Sneaky mountain lion snatches…
    6. Carson dumped in modern style
    7. World’s biggest ecstasy bust
    8. Sam ’embarrassed’ over Wriedt
    9. WA hopefuls in model show finals
    10. Lisa Marie Presley having twins

  8. Why I love PB:

    • 76
    Adam in Canberra Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 3:56 pm
    Since this is a WA thread, I have to get in a reference to my favourite Australian placename, Useless Loop.
    William should institute the Useless Loop Award for the candidate who does or says the dumbest thing in the course of the campaign. Any early nominations?

    • 106
    Adam in Canberra Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 4:18 pm
    In Victoria we also have Tittybong, Upotipotpon and Dondangadale.
    • 112
    Gary Bruce Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 4:21 pm
    Adam I think you’ll find “Dondangadale” is actually “Dandongadale” unless there is another place with a similar name. I ‘ve been to Dandongadale, not that any of this matters.
    • 113
    Antonio Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 4:22 pm
    I’ll pass that on to the folks at Nar Nar Goon and Koo-Wee-Rup.
    • 114
    Gary Bruce Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 4:25 pm
    “Mount Buggery is worth a mention too.” So you can go to Buggery?
    • 116
    Adam in Canberra Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 4:26 pm
    Gary, you are right. But have you been to Burrumbuttock?
    • 125
    Gary Bruce Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 4:36 pm
    No Adam but Burrumbuttock sounds like the a…..end of the world.
    • 162
    Ophuph Hucksake Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 6:28 pm
    Why go all the way to Useless Loop, when in Perth we have Innaloo, Upper Swan and Cockburn (the suburb that dares not speak its name – the ‘ck’ is silent).
    • 170
    Antonio Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 8:15 pm
    Upper Swan?
    In Victoria, we’d rather Mount Buffalo.
    (sorry about lowering the tone…it was thinking of troy Buswell that made me do it)
    Ozymandias Says:
    August 8th, 2008 at 12:37 pm
    Antonio @ 170, I’ll see your Mount Buffalo and raise it with WA’s tallest peak
    -Mount Meharry.

    Hahahahahahahahah (made my day).

  9. And here is the article.

    [The leader of the Opposition in WA has dumped a controversial idea to build a pipeline to carry water from the Kimberley to Perth.

    Colin Barnett told ABC Stateline the idea was a mistake and that the last State election was basically a referendum on whether it should be built.

    Mr Barnett said the Liberal Party is planning to release its water policy soon but plans for a canal are dead in the water.

    “In that document when the water policy comes out it will not include a canal,” he said. ]

  10. That’s an amazing backflip Frank, I thought the canal was the thing that was supposed to show what a visionary Barnett is and how progressive he is compared to a static government.

  11. I’ve spoken to Brendon Grylls in the past and I believe him when he says the Nats won’t enter a coalition with anyone under his leadership.

    Who would they support in a possible minority government? I imagine that would depend on the response to the Nats royalties policy.

    The Nats are also reportedly considering directing preferences to Labor ahead of Liberal in certain seats.

    Kalgoorlie is actually a four-way contest. The Nats candidate is a high-profile local Tony Crook, better known than the ALP and Liberal candidates.

  12. I would guess there would be a small swing to Labor
    this depending how sitting Mps in the south west and Geradlton go
    could be the difference between a labor Landslide and no change

  13. I reckon John Bowler’s got as good a chance as any in Kalgoorlie. Labor and the Libs seem to be running young no names, and I wouldn’t write off the Nat candidate… last time, they didn’t run in Kalgoorlie or Murchison-Eyre (or even in the upper house region?), so it’s hard to say how they’ll do. If the Liberal vote goes down in flames without Birney, and Labor don’t get that much of the vote, it’s possible Bowler could come second (I’m guessing to the Libs, though I wouldn’t lay money on it), and if Labor and the Libs preference each other last, he could well end up winning. Same could be said for the Nats, actually. Put it this way, if Labor and the Libs don’t have a good hard go at the seat, they’ll lose it.

  14. at 247 we have “Stygians” I’ve done google and wiki and I still don’t quite get it; I’m assuming we are in sexist territory?

  15. From the Morgan thread.

    [A Parrot Chick Says:
    August 8th, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    The youtube references were a blast from the past!!!

    Check out a clip from the Sunday program in early 1989

    The off air banter between Laurie Oakes and Graham Richardson is a classic… It starts at 2:06.

    It was set just after the 1989 WA state election…]

  16. Frank can I take it that you are not a Victorian for your post no 34 was very wrong

    Frank Calabrese Says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 2:52 pm
    [Jeff Kennett, at least six months early, 1999.]

    But there were extenuating circumstances, such as the collapse of the Pyramid Bank etc.

    No such issues here.

    Pyramid Building Society fell over under the Cain ALP Government in the early 1990s!

  17. [Frank can I take it that you are not a Victorian for your post no 34 was very wrong]

    Yes you are indeed correct, I got it the wrong way around and was thinking about Kennett Winning the Election from Joan Kirner.

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