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. I like this on Solar Panels.

    Labor says it will pay West Australians to generate solar power if it wins the election.

    Under the plan, people who buy rooftop solar panels will be paid 60 cents per kilowatt hour for the electricity they generate.

    The Premier, Alan Carpenter, says it is the most generous solar power incentive scheme in the country.


  2. Talk about the Liberal 10 minutes Frank 300 by PK.

    But it should be noted that Eoin cameron, the host was the former Liberal Member for Stirling in the First Howard Government.

  3. WA Libs at $4.00 cf. $3.50 about Helen Clark says much about the way Barnett supporters feel about his real chances.
    Longer odds than HC – and she’s a goner!
    And to rub salt… Labor in NSW is $1.90! LOL

  4. I think Labor are on the right track with those ads. Remind voters that to vote for the Libs is a risk. It feeds into the perception that they are not fit to govern. Going after popular causes is not a recipe for succes. If it was Baillieu would be Premier now.

  5. Just saw a preview of the Debate on Ch 9 – As soon as Barnett started to defend Buswell the Worm went into the Red, and went up when Carpenter reminded the audience on how the Libs protected and promoted him to leader.

  6. hrmm the debate was fun

    the panel was stacked with pro-liberal journos, but Carps did excellent, he really got into his groove in the second half

    barnett just fell to pieces, arrogant, rude and plain unconvincing

  7. I also just finished watching the ‘debate’ – bit lacklustre IMHO.
    As for Labor’s ‘don’t risk it’ line – I don’t see it getting a lot of traction… maybe it’s just me but the names in the Libs are already well known – they’re not new, young, surprising, unpredictable or even particularly risky to my way of thinking…
    Ok – now as to the debate… Peter Van Onselen made his mandatory appearance and his comments were fairly obvious I thought.
    I thought Barnett did indeed start strongly but weaken as it went along – Carps did the reverse. Carps presents better (presumably in part because of his media background) but neither landed any big blows. Barnett tried to stay on message regardless of the question – bit annoying at times. Both were fairly conciliatory on many issues which was a little disappointing.
    Was not very surprised with the voting at the end – winner was 57% to Carps (IIRC) and pref party 20/23/57% Lab/Lib/Undecided… meaning that it’s still all there to play for.
    It also reinforces the peculiar position we see in WA where everyone thinks Labor will win but there’re a lot of people voting the other way…

  8. Yep, both SeanofPerth and VPL have summed up the debate perfectly.

    And did you notice Barnett did not answer Dixie’s question re the “Biggest Moral Mistake” ? Also Buswell and lack of Women is still the Elephant in theRoom for the Libs, and note that Barnett has made a half-hearted backflip on banning his ministers dealing with Burke, Grills and more importantly Noel Chrichton-Browne. In the first instance, he should dump Buswell as shadow treasurer now 🙂

    If he doesn’t it means he won’t deliver on it.

  9. That sounds about right, VPL. To begin with, response to Barnett was pretty positive, sticking to remarks that Labor had squandered the boom, along with raising the issue of trust over links to Brian Burke. To begin with, Carps got thrown questions on personality and arrogance, although I expected nothing less from Robert Taylor. Carps deflected these, but hovered around neutral.
    Come the second half, Barnett dodged questions and struggled with his party’s issues with women and Troy Buswell. These saw sharp declines in his support, and Carps performed strongly in this half.

    PerthNow called the debate unremarkable, declaring that Carps and Barnett stuck to pre-rehearsed attack lines, and announced nothing new during the debate (which Barnett did last time with his canal). It also noted that 50 people were in the studio audience.

    The West’s website called the debate a ‘fizzer’ for much the same reasons. However, the West remarked that only 30 people were given voting doohickeys, which it claims puts both the worm and end-game voting into suspicion.

    What is utterly remarkable is that NEITHER report gave the end results, which stated Carps won the debate by over 10%, and that the Libs were very slightly preferred, with over half the voters going for the “Other/Undecided” category.

  10. Perthnow didnt mention the 57% result for Carps, or even mention that he won. I wonder if they would call the debate unremarkable if Barnett won?

  11. What is utterly remarkable is that NEITHER report gave the end results, which stated Carps won the debate by over 10%, and that the Libs were very slightly preferred, with over half the voters going for the “Other/Undecided” category.

    Though I wouldn’t be surprised if other media outlets were forbidden to release the figures as the program was pre-recorded and nine wanted to release the figures during the debate itself.

  12. I don’t think you can conclude too much from one debate one way or the other really. Some here are reading too much into it. I wonder how many people watched it.

  13. On the subject of women in Parliament. The Queensland Parliament has 29 women in the 89 seat parliament. Labor 23, Liberal 1, National 2, Independent 2

    Labor Liberal National Independent

    Attwood Stuckey Menkens Cunningham
    Barry Simpson Leelong
    Bligh Pratt
    Van Listenburg

  14. And the comments on Perth Now are so predictable, They must have had their comments sitting in a word file ready to be posted 🙂

  15. I think the debate would have reminded a lot of people about why they didnt vote for Colin Barnett, he’s so uninspiring and lacks any sort of charm or relate to the people factor. I think people will begin to drift back to Labor

  16. I think the debate would have reminded a lot of people about why they didnt vote for Colin Barnett, he’s so uninspiring and lacks any sort of charm or relate to the people factor. I think people will begin to drift back to Labor

    I agree, but I’m worried that not many people watched it as it was shown on the low-rating Ch 9, instead of Ch 7 or the ABC. I know the ABC couldn’t do it as their studios are being fitted out for use as the Tally Room, but you’d think that the ABC could’ve done it as an Outside Broadcast from the Town Hall, or similar location.

    An did you notice there was no representative on the panel from Channel 7 ? I wonder if Ch 7 got snubbed because of Reece Whitby standing for Labor in Morley and it would’ve been seen as a conflict of interest, though that didn’t stop Nine having Dixie Marshall, daughter of former Liberal Member for Dawesville, Arthur Marshall.


  17. This is what a DIE HARD liberal voter wrote (this guy is your typical liberal, regurgitates all the cliches and party spew)

    “Very disappointing Barnett.

    You looked like a loser and spoke like a moron. And as for the “moral” question you received from the moderator, I was actually shaking my head in SHAME.

    That’ll take me 2 weeks to get over.

    Carpenter was the usual boring, unethical vacuum cleaner… but he definitely won the debate.”

  18. SeanofPerth:

    Where did that quote from the DieHard Lib come from ? I wonder if those 50 voters were selected by the mob who rang me the other night ?

    I can well imagine Labor preparing ads that will play up on the Buswell factor if the Worm is anything to go by.

  19. I think some ads displaying that Buswell would be Treasurer under a Lib government would go down great – you could tell by the worm that he is pure political poison

  20. SeanofPerth:

    I’m amazed at that forum, you’d think it’d would be filled with card carrying members of the 500 club, but the posters think like us 🙂 THey were right about how the worm responded when either Carps or Barnett spoke, half of those in the audience looked like 6PR listeners with a few stragglers from 96fm 🙂

    Perfect Redneck/Bogan demographic – none of this ABC Riff Raff 🙂

  21. Frank you will find that on the planning, development and infrastructure front – Labor support is almost unanimous, especially in the planning field. Alannah MacTiernan is breath of fresh air and innovation this state so desperately needed

  22. SeanofPerth @ 333 “I think some ads displaying that Buswell would be Treasurer under a Lib government would go down great – you could tell by the worm that he is pure political poison.”

    -spot on. Buswell is a skidmark that stains the whole of the party, from the MPs who three times voted him as best alternative premier among them, to the party officials who backed him so publicly. That the majority of a party could make such a collective misjudgment shows them as unprepared for government.

    The litany of ‘Libs shoot own feet” headlines (Frank C @ 309) is effective, but I have no doubt there are even more anti-ALP headlines in the archives, given The Worst’s habitual carpet-bombing of the government in its reporting.

  23. Sean – disagree about Allannah and infrastructure – in fact I thought from the debate that there was very little support in general in that area.
    I do agree with Frank et al about Buswell – as I said in a previous thread, he needed to be on the front-bench because of the strength of his parliamentary performance but Treasury was too important/too high profile for it not to be used to bash the Libs over the head with. I also agree to some extent that it showed both a questionable moral approach and the dearth of talent in the parlt Lib party that he not only remained leader but fended off several challenges – in the end he wasn’t pushed (but should have been), he went on his own terms.
    Few more thoughts from last night:
    As for that final question by Dixie – ‘your biggest moral failing’ what the hell sort of question is that??? Not even in your political career but your life in general…??? I thought it was irrelevant and out of order but no question Carps played it best – even getting a laugh (one thing the Dockers is always good at it getting laughs). Barnett really did a crap job on that question and he got it second giving him a couple minutes to think of a response.

  24. The ‘moral failing’ one was borrowed from Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church debate in the US Presidential campaign, I believe. It was framed in personal rather than political terms. McCain said allowing his first marriage to collapse was his greatest failing. Obama singled out his prolific drug use during his teenage years.

    Did Barnett even actually answer the question? He started to talk about his drugs policy before Dixie Marshall scolded him for dodging the question.

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