Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times reports that the Liberal internal polling that persuaded Troy Buswell to go showed that even with Buswell as leader the party would have retained Bunbury (Liberal-held but notionally Labor post-redistribution) and won the notionally knife-edge new eastern suburbs seat of Kalamunda. However, they were trailing slightly in the must-win seats of Albany (Labor-held but now notionally Liberal) and Kingsley (northern suburbs, Labor-held, notionally line-ball). A report from Robert Taylor of The West Australian suggests the poll showed them winning all four if Barnett was leader, by a margin of 60-40 in Bunbury. However, Taylor also reports Labor polling is believed to give them a nice buffer.
Independent Churchlands MP Liz Constable has been included in the new shadow cabinet, with the public sector management and government accountability portfolios: smartly chosen in the context of an election campaign that will emphasise Brian Burke and ministerial sackings, but potentially very dangerous thereafter. The formerly estranged Rob Johnson and Graham Jacobs (members for Hillarys and Roe, with the latter set to contest the new seat of Eyre) are back on the board.
It now seems likely the Liberals will be unable to accommodate Deidre Willmott, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry policy adviser who had to abandon Cottesloe so Colin Barnett could shelve his retirement plans. This leaves the Liberals with a grand total of four female lower house candidates out of the 43 nominated so far: Liza Harvey in the marginal Liberal new northern suburbs seat of Scarborough, Andrea Mitchell and Milly Zuvella in Kingsley and Joondalup further north (respectively line-ball and marginal Labor) and Ruth Webb-Smith in long-shot Kimberley.
Today’s West Australian reports that outgoing Carine MP Katie Hodson-Thomas is ruing her decision to retire, made on the day Troy Buswell became leader. Hodson-Thomas complained Buswell had made inappropriate comments to her in front of male colleagues.
The West Australian’s Gary Adshead reports that Sue Walker, the Liberal-turned-independent member for Nedlands, is yet to have nominated for the election, prompting speculation she was throwing in the towel. Walker responded by telling Adshead that a man had come into her electorate office to say her life was in danger, but that providing there’s nothing that stands between me and the close of nominations, I intend to nominate.
Alan Carpenter has announced a re-elected Labor government will spend $160 million rebuilding Albany Regional Hospital, after earlier committing only to a $55 million redevelopment. Albany was won by Labor in 2001 and retained by a 1.4 per cent margin in 2005, but the one-vote one-value redistribution has turned it into a 2.3 per cent Liberal seat by expanding it into rural areas beyond the city limits.
In other policy news, the Kimberley canal is officially off the agenda of a first-term Liberal government. Word is that the once-bitten twice-shy Barnett will pursue a small target strategy.
If you’re a Crikey subscriber, you can my read quick overview from today’s email. The upshot is that the Liberals are a better chance than the $4.25 being offered by Centrebet suggests.
UPDATE (9/8/08): The Sunday Times reports Labor polling conducted after the Liberal leadership change shows Labor leading 56-44 in the new seat of Jandakot, which has a notional Labor margin of 3.6 per cent.