A polling bonanza for the Western Australian election, with a 51-49 result in Labor’s favour from Newspoll (UPDATE: Scanned graphic courtesy of James J; Peter Brent at Mumble doesn’t like the look of a mere 51-49 lead to Labor from even primary vote figures) and a comprehensive Westpoll survey in The West Australian. The latter includes a 50.2-49.8 statewide result in Labor’s favour from a sample of 400, plus electorate-level surveys of 400 voters from Scarborough (notional Liberal margin of 2.4 per cent, Liberals lead 52-48), Kingsley (notionally lineball, Liberals lead 54-46), Collie-Preston (notional Labor margin 0.9 per cent, 50-50), Kalamunda (notional Liberal margin 0.2 per cent, Liberals lead 54-46) and Riverton (notional Labor margin 2.1 per cent, Liberals lead 51-49). Full scan here. Other highlights of the past week:
Nominations closed at noon yesterday, and the Poll Bludger election guide has accordingly been brought up to date with full candidate lists. A key feature is the late withdrawal of a large number of much-touted independent candidates. Two Labor-turned-independent MPs who had earlier planned on running evidently saw the writing on the wall: one-time Health Minister and Yokine MP Bob Kucera, who was earlier deliberating over whether to contest Nollamara or Mount Lawley, and Shelley Archer, the wife of CFMEU heavy Kevin Reynolds who was dumped from the party over dealings with Brian Burke, earlier weighing her options in Kimberley and her existing upper house seat in Mining and Pastoral region. On the other side of politics, former leader Paul Omodei has decided against nominating after most recently suggesting he would run for the South West upper house region. Troy Buswell’s predecessor as member for Vasse, Bernie Masters, has decided not to run against him after very nearly defeating him as an independent in 2005. The only remaining major party renegade still in the hunt is Ballajura MP John D’Orazio, contesting the new seat of Morley.
Robert Taylor of The West Australian noted the Liberals’ unreadiness for the campaign in an article on Thursday, identifying two reasons for their lack of television advertising thus far: The first is that they’re simply not ready. When the election was called, the Liberals did not even have advertising concepts in the can for former leader Troy Buswell, let alone a leader who had only been elected the previous day. The second is that they are woefully underfunded and Olympic period television advertising is extremely expensive. Labor is said to have booked significant airspace during the Olympics for about $250,000 … Liberal television advertisements are not expected to hit the airwaves until the Olympics are over, giving them roughly 10 days to establish their message before the media blackout comes into effect at midnight on the Wednesday before the poll.
On which subject, eastern states viewers can view the Labor television ad on the ALP site. Western Australian readers will have seen it a million times already. Interesting to note that the front page of the site includes a defence of the early election announcement.
The Liberals do at least have two radio ads, both negative, which can be heard here. Message common to both: If you couldn’t make things work with eight years of boom, what’s going to happen now that things are slowing down, prices are rising and interest rates are up?
Labor has also chosen the medium of radio to field its first negative ads, which fascinatingly pursue the theme of Liberal Party sexism: not conventional election campaign fodder, but well worth a run under the present extraordinary circumstances. As well as the lingering image problem from Troy Buswell’s tenure as leader, the Liberals can boast just one female candidate in a notionally Liberal lower house seat, and precious few in winnable Labor seats. The message is conveyed by a young girl declaring her aspirations for when she grows up, and the unlikelihood of them being realised through the vehicle of the Liberal Party. If you’re up early this morning (7am Saturday) you might hear me discussing the subject on the ABC’s AM program (UPDATE: Read and hear it here). More on the women candidates issue from Andrea Mayes of the Sunday Times.
An interesting assessment of the overall situation from Kim Beazley in an article for WAToday, who in tipping a cliffhanger reminds readers that the blue-collar component of the WA electorate is half that of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and 50 per cent less than Brisbane, and that a large non-English speaking background electorate so richly supportive of Labor in the east is likewise missing.
The Liberals have landed an interesting candidate in the safe Labor southern suburbs seat of Cockburn: Corruption and Crime Commission intelligence analyst Donald Barrett, who has taken leave without pay from his position to stand against Energy Minister Fran Logan. Jessica Strutt of The West Australian reports that some Labor MPs are simply paranoid about the Barrett factor more particularly the ‘dirt’ he may have.
Deidre Willmott, who stood aside in Cottesloe to allow Colin Barnett to rescind his retirement plans, has been appointed Barnett’s chief-of-staff. There seems little doubt she will realise her claim to Cottesloe at a by-election if the Liberals fail to win government.
State political editor Peter Kennedy told ABC Radio on Monday that a Labor source had revealed polling in Swan Hills showing 69 per cent believed the Liberals were not ready to govern, but clammed up when probed about voting intention or figures from other seats. However, Labor has been openly trumpeting polling from Jandakot showing them leading 56-44.
Former Labor MP and lobbying kingpin MP John Halden made the eyebrow-raising claim in an article in Monday’s West Australian that Ben Wyatt, who replaced Geoff Gallop as member for Victoria Park in March 2006, would succeed Alan Carpenter as Premier before the next election. The following day he told the paper it was no secret in Labor ranks he was being groomed for the job.
Crikey subscribers can read me having two bob each way on the relevance of the Northern Territory precedent.