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.