WA election minus 16 days

• Call it expectations management if you will, but Labor is sending out strong signals that it is in big trouble despite what the betting markets think (Centrebet continues to offer $1.18 for Labor and $4.25 for Liberal). Yesterday Alan Carpenter spoke of his party being in a “knife-edge political situation”. Geof Parry of Seven News has today been told internal polling shows Labor headed for defeat on the back of a 7 per cent swing, although two-thirds expect them to win. The ABC was told the party had given up on its most marginal seat of Kingsley (although local resident Bogart writes in comments that he has “received calls and stuff in letter box last night”), and is “concerned” about Riverton and Swan Hills (with respective post-redistribution margins of 2.1 per cent and 3.6 per cent, and a prematurely outgoing sitting member in the latter case), as well as the new seats of Ocean Reef (notional margin of 1.6 per cent) and Jandakot (3.6 per cent). The latter comes as a surprise, as Labor was earlier trumpeting polling showing it ahead 56-44, and should presumably have cause for optimism due to the Fiona Stanley Hospital and Perth to Mandurah rail line.

• Upper house voting tickets were lodged on Monday, and can most easily be perused at ABC Elections. A lot more on this shortly. The Nationals have predictably backed off from their threats to preference Labor ahead of the Liberals depending on the reception to its push for 25 per cent of mining and petroleum royalties to be invested in regional areas. However, they have put Family First and the Christian Democratic Party ahead of the Liberals, which could yet turn up some interesting results. Surprisingly, the party is fielding candidates in all three metropolitan upper house regions. Their lower house card can be read here, though it’s hard to make sense of if you can’t put names to parties.

• The Greens are directing preferences to Labor in most places where it matters, but are offering open tickets in Morley (where ex-Labor incumbent John D’Orazio is running as an independent), Mount Lawley, Pilbara and Kimberley (despite its female indigenous incumbent). They will preference the Nationals ahead of the Liberals in Wagin and Central Wheatbelt, but are yet to declare their hand in Blackwood-Stirling and Moore.

• Monday’s West Australian released further results from last week’s Westpoll survey, providing unprompted responses to the question of “key issue in voting decision”. It indicates the meme of Alan Carpenter’s “arrogance” has caught on, with 10 per cent listed as nominating “Govt/Carpenter arrogance”. Other responses were 19 per cent for health, 12 per cent for law and order, 11 per cent for environment, 10 per cent for education and 10 per cent for “cost of living/economics”.

• The leaders’ debate will be held on Monday, the day after the Olympics closing ceremony, and screened as part of an hour-long edition of Channel Nine’s A Current Affair. Nine will reportedly have to air it unedited after the event as it lacks the facilities to screen it live.

Antony Green concurs with Peter Brent’s assessment that Saturday’s Newspoll should have put Labor’s lead at 52-48 rather than 51-49, and provides much detail on minor party preference flows at the 2005 election.

• The surprise early election announcement has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of candidates, from 375 lower house candidates in 2005 to 161.

• Click here for audio of my appearance on Jennifer Byrne’s program on News Radio on Tuesday. Readers in the fashionable end of town can enjoy more of my media tartery in the latest edition of Western Suburbs Weekly.

• Joe Poprzeczny’s State Scene columns for WA Business News generally deserve wider coverage, so here’s an extract from his assessment in last week’s issue. I personally am standing by my existing assumption that any minority government will be a Liberal one, unless John D’Orazio or John Bowler get up in Morley and Kalgoorlie:

To begin analysing the possibilities it’s important to keep the number 30 in mind, because that’s how many seats a side must win in the 59-member lower house to form government … However, even if one or two seats in the ‘quite solid’ category tumbled into the Barnett dilly-bag, there are others outside the 29-seat category that could go the other way, that is, fall out of the Barnett dilly-bag into the Carpenter-McGinty sack. Consider the Barnett-led camp’s following problems. The first that needs highlighting within those remaining 30 seats is that four – Wagin, Central Wheatbelt, Moore and Blackwood-Stirling – are set to be won by the Brendon Grylls-led Nationals, which leaves Mr Barnett only a possible 26 seats remaining. Moreover, Mr Grylls has made it clear that he and his three lower house colleagues aren’t interested in being ministers. In other words, forget dreaming about another conservative coalition …

Mr Barnett, even if he does well, by which State Scene means if he wins 26 seats, would at best only be able to form a minority government, one relying on the four Nationals who wouldn’t join him in coalition. And it’s here that an entirely new factor – one that’s so far been overlooked – walks onto WA’s political stage. Let’s say Mr Carpenter wins all his impregnable-to-quite-solid Labor seats, giving him 29 seats, one short of being able to form government. And let’s say Mr Barnett wins the remaining 26 minus the four National seats, which is far from certain. What would that mean? Firstly, it puts the Nationals in a potent position to start talking turkey, as they say in the bush, on which side to support and under what conditions. Secondly, when it comes to offering the power to form a government surely WA Governor Ken Michael would feel under some obligation to offer the majority party – in this case Labor – the first offer of the Treasury benches since they’d have 29 MPs, to 26 non-Laborites plus the four Nationals …

Among those 26 seats are several that Mr Barnett is likely to have great difficulty winning, if indeed he even stands Liberal candidates. State Scene puts no fewer than six into this group. They include the three held by Independent Liberals – Janet Woollard, Liz Constable and Sue Walker. True, efforts are being made to coax them across, and he may succeed in one or two cases. But only a brave person would predict all three women can be counted on to offer him full and unconditional backing. This qualification may not trim the 26-seat number down to 23 seats, but it certainly means the 26 figure is far from rock solid. Moreover, many Liberals have been viewing the two provincial seats of Geraldton and Albany as set to fall into their dilly-bag. That, however, remains a brave prediction with their current Labor incumbents – Shane Hill and Peter Watson, respectively – far from easy marks. And there’s another problem; the seat of Kalgoorlie, which Mr Birney isn’t contesting. Although many see Kalgoorlie as being Liberal on the basis of the past two elections, that’s a brave claim since those figures reflect Mr Birney’s two performances. With Mr Birney now out of the race, and with sacked Labor minister, John Bowler, contesting Kalgoorlie as Independent Labor, it’s quite likely to go to him or Labor candidate, Mathew Cuomo, rather than to a Liberal. If Mr Bowler wins Kalgoorlie he’d be able to negotiate himself into becoming lower house speaker if Labor found itself with only 29 seats. And the Liberals are far from assured of winning Collie-Preston that’s being contested by their frontbencher, Steve Thomas, who faces a tough fight.

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.

342 comments on “WA election minus 16 days”

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  1. Mick, it was mentioned at 196 and 197. Labor needs to make a big play on this. This smells of “the canal’. What else will Barnett get wrong? Can he be trusted in government to get it right?

  2. Well, calling the Olympic fortnight a honeymoon period for Colin is one way of looking at it.

    Another would be to say that we’ve had a fortnight in which voters haven’t been reminded why they didn’t vote for a Barnett government in 2005.

    Whilst I wouldn’t be so rash as to make a firm prediction, I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if the Libs tank in the polls now that Col’s getting some air time.

  3. The government claims they have already done the study on this and found that, for the expense involved, too few people will benefit by it.

  4. New leader Colin Barnett and his wife Lyn arrived at the Octagon Theatre, at the University of Western Australia in Perth, to wild applause as Vanessa Amorosi’s rock anthem, Absolutely Everybody, boomed out and the 600-strong crowd jumped to their feet.

    And according to the West, Absolutely Everybody was Geoff Gallops 2001 Election Theme Song 🙂

    Can’t the Libs get ANYTHING right ? 🙂

  5. “Rock anthem”?

    More like “Chicken Rock” as it was I think written and produced by Mark Holden – nuff said.

    Mre perth media/politics trivia, Mar Holden’s movie Blue Fire Lady was written by none other than Burkie’s good mate and chief Carpenter critic, Bob Maumill.

  6. I second Col’s claim that Labor “won” the audience, but have to add that apparently about 50% of the audience was undecided at the end.

  7. I hear a rumour that a deal was done amongst the Lib powerbrokers which meant that Troy Buswell would step down as leader but only if Colin Barnett promised him the Shadow Treasurer position. Colin would take up the leadership and according to the polls this would put the Libs in a much better position of winning. Colin agreed to stay in the leadership for a year, enough time for Troy to show that he had grown up and was responsible enough to be Premier. Colin would step down and take his retirement as planned, Troy would become leader and Deidre Willmott will be brought into Parliament in the Cottesloe by election.

  8. I hear a rumour that a deal was done amongst the Lib powerbrokers which meant that Troy Buswell would step down as leader but only if Colin Barnett promised him the Shadow Treasurer position.

    What a Surprise – NOT. Even Blind Freddie could see that scam coming from a million miles away.

    That “rumour” should be distributed far and wide 🙂

  9. Hmm, so Barnett isn’t going to promise Tax Cuts.

    Mr Barnett is now playing down speculation he will promise tax cuts saying he would rather throw money at education.

    “Well I enjoyed the debate,” he said.

    “They are interesting experiences. I think I would have perhaps liked to have had more questions from the audience.

    The leader’s debate which took place in front of a studio of 50 people.

    However, only 30 members of the studio audience voted on who they thought had won.


  10. *laughs* I’m not going back to the other debate there is no point, but rumor is fine for you Frank, so long as it is a liberal rumor. Just the Labor ones you need definite proof for?

    And I’m curious Frank why do you hate normal branch members? You come out of one of those strong unions that benefit from the fewer real branch members there are?

  11. Hmm, Greens not Preferencing Labor in Cockburn

    The member for Cockburn, Fran Logan says it is unfortunate the WA Greens have decided not to direct their preferences to him.

    The Greens usually put the Labor Party ahead of the Liberals in their preferences but at this election will leave the boxes of the major party candidates blank on their how to vote cards.

    The Greens say the Government has a tendency to ignore the needs of Cockburn residents because it is a safe Labor seat


  12. And I’m curious Frank why do you hate normal branch members? You come out of one of those strong unions that benefit from the fewer real branch members there are?

    I am NOT a member of any Union. I am a norm al rank and file member who believe it or not support the Party through thick and thin – unlike yourself who only supports it when you feel like it.

  13. “unlike yourself who only supports it when you feel like it.” What? Are you telling me Jasmine is a Labor supporter? Hell, with supporters like that who needs enemies.

  14. What? Are you telling me Jasmine is a Labor supporter? Hell, with supporters like that who needs enemies.

    Yep, she outed herself when she stated she had an argument with Bill Johnson over the Party’s new policy of not accepting Cash Memberships except in person at Party Office, which was introduced to further prevent branch stacking where certain people would pay fo multiple memberships out of their own pocket.

  15. And I can consign you to the ‘members are great so long as they don’t dare voice an opinion’ bin. It is a large bin Gary you have lots of friends.

  16. No, not at all. First of all I’m not a member and never have been. I’m wondering why you still are one? It sounds to me like you should do you and the party a favour and move outside the tent. Maybe to the DLP?

  17. And I certainly did not ever discuss the amendment with Bill either before or after.

    Oh really, then why did you say this then ? 🙂

    jasmine Says:
    August 10th, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Perhaps since Bill has publicly discussed difficulties telling the difference between cheques and cash perhaps they have found some other role for him, folding leaflets perhaps.

  18. Because Bill was in the media discussing it publicly. I was trying to make it clear this had been publicly discussed and wasn’t inside secrets.

  19. SoP “The Wests updated article re debate that Frank posted before now says carps won 57-43”

    I cant find the story you’re referring to. Do you have the link?

  20. “Mr Carpenter came out marginally ahead overall on the worm’s verdict, with 57 percent of the voting studio audience declaring him the winner and 43 per cent declaring Mr Barnett the winner.”
    Strange description that – “marginally ahead”. 57 -43 is marginal is it?

  21. Strange description that – “marginally ahead”. 57 -43 is marginal is it?

    But this is The West we are talking about here, they’ll do anything to spin their man Colin 🙂 – even if it’s to talk down the worm and the ALP internal polling story.

  22. “However, there is expected to be much argument about the verdict which will be delivered by the worm given that only 30 members of the studio audience were handed the device which records their responses as the debate unfolds.”
    Would they be questioning this if the result was in favour of their Colin intead?
    Surely a random selection is fair enough although why not poll the whole audience?

  23. Would they be questioning this if the result was in favour of their Colin instead?

    Of course not, why do you think they called the debate a “fizzer” ? As I said, they’re doing their hardest for Colin, after dumping on him last time because of the Canal.

  24. Hmm, Libs odds are shortening according to Sportingbet.

    Bookmakers say the Liberal Party is starting to close the gap on Labor in the betting stakes for the West Australian election.

    Sportingbet Australia says the Liberal Party is shortening in the betting from $4.50 at the start of the campaign, to $3.80.

    The Labor Party has barely shifted from its opening odds, rated by punters as a $1.25 chance.


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