With the Olympics out of the way and less than a fortnight to go until polling day, the Western Australian election campaign is on in earnest. The official Liberal campaign launch was held on Sunday footage of Colin Barnett’s speech can be viewed here, but it doesn’t convey the highly Americanised razzamatazz that dominated the vision on the television news. The Liberals finally have their first television ads in business: this remarkably drab positive effort, and a rather more innovative negative one. There have also been two further additions to the party’s roster of radio advertising, both dealing with law and order, making for six negative ads out of six. Labor’s campaign has gotten equally grim after a sunny start.
On Monday night came the low-rating televised leaders debate, hosted by Channel Nine, in which 30 of the 50 audience members drove the worm and delivered a verdict of 17-13 in favour of Alan Carpenter. The worm tracked fairly evenly, favouring Barnett for the first half of the debate and Carpenter for the second. Carpenter got good responses on left issues including privatisation, GM food bans and uranium mining, and when he pointed out he had called on the Salaries Tribunal not to increase MPs’ pay. He also drew blood when criticising the Liberals’ lack of women candidates, and when saying they had done nothing to prepare themselves for government. However, he did best of all when responding to moderator Dixie Marshall’s silly question about the contenders’ greatest moral failings with a joke about the Fremantle Dockers, and proclaiming his love for Western Australia. Barnett did well invoking the shadow of Brian Burke and WA Inc, but Carpenter also succeeded in drawing Noel Crichton-Browne into the issue, and Barnett appeared to indulge in an impromptu strengthening of his position on banning cabinet members from dealing with him. Other good responses for Barnett related to housing, education and teachers’ pay, but the worm headed south when Troy Buswell was raised. Barnett did notably less well than Carpenter responding to Marshall’s concluding question.
Last week’s expectations management exercise by Labor has succeeded in talking down the Centrebet odds on a Liberal win from $4.25 to $3.50, but one news outlet that has loudly refused to play along is The West Australian. On Saturday, the paper reported that notwithstanding reports of five marginal seats showing a 7 per cent swing to the Liberals, Labor insiders also said the polling indicated the swing would be reduced to a situation where Labor would be returned to government but would lose some seats. The paper’s Robert Taylor had this to say:
With nothing apparently working, Labor got desperate towards the end of the week, claiming that its own polling showed the Liberals would win the election if it were held this weekend. That’s cynical. What Labor didn’t say was that although close, the polling still suggests the Government would be returned by a reduced majority and with two weeks to go, nightly tracking polls show the swing to the Liberals slowing not gathering pace.
The West sounds confident enough that we can probably infer Labor’s tracking poll paints a similar picture to last fortnight’s Westpoll and Newspoll, perhaps slightly worse than the latter.
UPDATE (28/8/08): Robert Taylor reports: Nightly tracking polls conducted by both parties show the swing to the Liberals is down to around two per cent, half of what they need to claim government. The Liberals are tracking voters in eight marginal seats, Labor is polling in five But both see the same trend, and it’s a win to Labor … Labor sources said they expected losses to be contained to three or four seats, two of which, Darling Range and Bunbury, are held by Liberal incumbents anyway because of the one vote, one value redistribution. And Labor still has not given up on Albany and Geraldton, held by incumbent Government MPs Peter Watson and Shane Hill. Albany is said to have swung towards the Government in recent days. Both sides believe the Liberals have something of a stranglehold on Kingsley, held by Labor’s Judy Hughes. Ocean Reef, Collie-Preston and Riverton remain in play.
However, the momentum might yet continue to build: the big business 500 Club has announced it will donate $400,000 to the party’s marginal seats campaign, bridging what was reportedly a massive gap between the parties’ war chests.
Now for an overview of the situation in those marginals, bearing in mind that a net loss of nine seats will cost Labor its majority and most likely produce a minority Liberal government. Let’s start with the seats ABC state political editor Peter Kennedy might have had in mind when he mused on last night’s television news: Could it be that sitting Labor members have opted for the safer ends of their electorates and left the marginal seats for rookies?.
Ocean Reef (Labor 1.6%): Labor’s members for Mindarie and Joondalup, John Quigley and Tony O’Gorman, would have done their party a very good turn if they had abandoned their existing seats in the crucial outer northern suburbs to tackle this less attractive new prospect. The seat has instead emerged as a contest between two newcomers, both aged 28: Labor’s Louise Durack, a social worker and organisational officer with the locally based Women’s Healthworks who was hand-picked by Alan Carpenter, and Liberal candidate Albert Jacob, a Joondalup councillor. Labor sources said they were concerned about the seat on the basis of marginal seat polling.
Mount Lawley (Labor 5.8%): Nearly two-thirds of the voters in this new seat come from abolished Yokine: perhaps Labor would have done well to keep its member Bob Kucera on board rather than dump him for preselection, leading him to quit the party and initially threaten to run as an independent (he has instead decided to retire). The seat will instead be contested for Labor by one of the highest-profile of Alan Carpenter’s hand-picked candidates, Karen Brown, former deputy editor of The West Australian and more recently director of former Labor MP John Halden’s lobbying firm Halden Burns. The Liberal candidate is Perth deputy lord mayor Michael Sutherland.
Jandakot (Labor 3.6%): The bulk of this new southern suburbs seat comes from the Liberal-held seats of Murdoch (which has been succeeded by Bateman, to be contested by Christian Porter) and Serpentine-Jarrahdale (whose Liberal member Tony Simpson will contest the radically redrawn Darling Range). Labor’s strength comes from smaller areas in the west of the electorate which have been acquired from the very safe seats of Cockburn and Willagee, both of which have maintained their identity. The member for the former is Energy Minister Fran Logan, who seems an unlikely vote-winner he has been dubbed the invisible man of the campaign due to Labor’s unwillingness to bring him along to such events as yesterday’s wind power photo op in Albany. The member for the latter is Alan Carpenter. Should the Premier have boldly led by example, John Howard-style?
The following are must-wins for the Liberals in the metropolitan area:
Kingsley (Labor 0.0%): The northern suburbs seat of Kingsley was Labor’s only gain of the 2005 election, and had never been held by the party previously. It might be thought that Judy Hughes’s win for Labor was a one-off influenced by the fact that Liberal candidate Colin Edwardes was the husband of outgoing Liberal member Cheryl Edwardes, and also by the candidacy of Marie Evans (whose husband Richard Evans was member for the corresponding federal seat of Cowan from 1996 to 1998) under the Community 1st banner, reflecting local divisions in the Liberal Party. Hughes also suffered from the redistribution, which wiped out her 0.8 per cent margin by moving the electorate’s lowest-income suburb of Warwick into the safe Labor seat of Girrawheen. As part of last week’s campaign to dampen expectations, Labor claimed it had given up on the seat.
Riverton (Labor 2.1%): Labor member Tony McRae won the seat from Court government Workplace Relations Minister Graham Kierath in 2001 and survived an avalanche of bad press from The West Australian in the final days of the 2005 campaign, which memorably gave Colin Barnett’s costings debacle second billing to the news that Labor was running a dummy candidate. McRae suffered a more substantial setback during the current term when he was sacked as Environment Minister over dealings with Brian Burke’s lobbying colleague Julian Grill. The Liberal candidate is Mike Nahan, American-accented former executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs. Expect to hear a lot from Labor in the coming week about yesterday’s call from the IPA for privatisation of electricity generation and passenger rail networks. A Westpoll survey of 400 voters conducted during the first week of the campaign had the Liberals leading 51-49.
Swan Hills (Labor 3.6%): Labor’s outgoing 31-year-old member Jaye Radisich reportedly has ambitions for a future career in federal politics, but she might have lost a few friends in the party through her determination to abandon this crucial marginal seat in favour of its safe-as-houses neighbour West Swan. Alan Carpenter was determined that West Swan should go to his chief-of-staff Rita Saffioti, and Radisich quit rather than stay put. The seat will be contested for Labor by upper house MP Graham Giffard, who loomed as a potential loser in the game of musical chairs resulting from the reduction of North Metropolitan region from seven members to six. The Liberal candidate is Swan City councillor Frank Alban. Labor says its internal polling has it feeling concerned about the seat.
Now the must-win non-metropolitan seats:
Collie-Preston (Labor 0.9%): Collie-Preston merges Labor-held Collie-Wellington with Liberal-held Capel, and has thus emerged as a head-to-head contest between respective sitting members Mick Murray and Steve Thomas. As the map on my electorate page demonstrates, it is strikingly polarised between the intensively Labor-voting coal-mining town of Collie and the smaller town of Allanson to the west, and the strongly conservative agricultural shires of Capel, Dardanup and Donnybrook-Balingup. A former president of the Collie Combined Coalmining Unions Council, Mick Murray was Labor’s best performing candidate at the 2005 election, picking up a 6.7 per cent swing in Collie-Wellington after gaining its predecessor seat of Collie in 2001. Analysis of booth results reveals that this swing was overwhelmingly concentrated in Collie itself, whose five booths swung to Murray by 12.6 per cent compared with 3.9 per cent elsewhere. It can thus be inferred that the Labor margin is boosted by Murray’s popularity with a very particular constituency that has no representation in those areas that were formerly in Capel, where Steve Thomas can instead expect a sophomore surge following his entry to parliament in 2005.
North West (Labor 3.1%): Previously known as North West Coastal, this seat now extends inland to take in the mining towns of Meekatharra and Cue along with the Murchison pastoral area, cutting the margin from 3.7 per cent to 3.1 per cent. However, of more concern to Labor is the departure of sitting member Fred Riebeling, who has been demonstrating his vote-winning ways ever since he won the Ashburton by-election in the dying days of the Lawrence government in 1992. Worse still, the Liberal candidate is Rod Sweetman, who represented the area as member for Ningaloo from 1996 until 2005, when the abolition of his seat had him hunting unsuccessfully for opportunities in Perth. Labor’s candidate is Vince Catania, who has been a member for the corresponding upper house region of Mining and Pastoral since the 2005 election, at which time he was reckoned to be an inner-city blow-in.
The following have been sent from one side of the pendulum to the other by the redistribution:
Darling Range (Labor 0.8%): This seat derives just 15 per cent of its voters from the existing seat of Darling Range, the real successor to which is Kalamunda, which will be contested by Darling Range MP John Day (it has a notional Liberal margin of 0.2 per cent, but the early campaign Westpoll gave John Day a 54-46 lead). The new Darling Range takes half its voters from abolished Serpentine-Jarrahdale, and will accordingly be contested for the Liberals by its sitting member Tony Simpson. Labor’s candidate is Lisa Griffiths, described by the local Comment News as the only woman in a group of six scientists in WA specialising in electron microscopy.
Bunbury (Labor 0.9%): It was long anticipated that Bunbury mayor John Castrilli would gain this seat for the Liberals at the 2005 election, but he ended up winning by just 103 votes. Being slightly bigger than the other main regional cities, not all of Bunbury was accommodated by the electorate under the old boundaries, the Labor-voting southern suburbs of Withers and Usher being in abolished Capel. The absorption of those areas has given Labor a 1.5 per cent boost, but the Liberals are reportedly very confident Castrilli should be able to make up the difference. Labor has nominated Peter MacFarlane, director of the Margaret River Regional Wine Centre and candidate for Forrest at last year’s federal election.
Albany (Liberal 2.3%): The other two regional city seats have gone the other way from Bunbury because they have had to make up the numbers from surrounding rural seats. In both cases this meant territory where Labor had played dead to finish behind the Nationals, ensuring they defeated the Liberals on their preferences. Labor thus has a better chance of retaining the seats than the notional margins suggest, as indicated by Alan Carpenter’s visit yesterday to spruik renewable energy (which was reported thus on the front page of today’s West Australian). For their part, the Liberals are promising to build a natural gas pipeline between Bunbury and Albany under a public-private partnership. Labor’s sitting member Peter Watson faces sports physiotherapist Andrew Partington for a second successive election.
Geraldton (Liberal 3.5%): A similar story to Albany, Geraldton was won by Labor’s Shane Hill in 2001 and has moved to the Liberal column after expanding into rural territory from the abolished Nationals seat of Greenough. The Liberal candidate is local farmer Ian Blayney.
Joondalup (Labor 3.6%): Changes of government in 1983, 1993 and 2001 all involved mass transfers of seats in Perth’s volatile northern suburbs mortgage belt, with Tony O’Gorman gaining Joondalup for Labor on the latter occasion. The Liberals would surely be hoping to gain this seat if they wish for a repeat in 2008, but their candidate Milly Zuvela has a remarkably low profile, notwithstanding a stint on Wanneroo City Council late last decade.
Forrestfield (Labor 4.5%): A new seat with no sitting member, so the margin might flatter Labor, who have nominated Andrew Waddell, a former official with the Centre faction Transport Workers Union who has worked since 1999 with the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Here too the Liberals have nominated a candidate without much of a profile, school deputy principal Nathan Morton.
Southern River (Labor 5.1%): This electorate has been substantially redrawn, the existing seat providing it with only 56 per cent of its voters (the rest come from abolished Serpentine-Jarrahdale), so perhaps sitting member Paul Andrews is not as secure as his margin makes him appear. The Liberal candidate is the Reverend Peter Abetz, pastor of the Christian Reformed Church of Willetton and brother of Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz.
Kimberley (Labor 6.3%): I was tempted to put the 5.2 per cent Liberal swing at the 2005 election down to the one-off of Colin Barnett’s canal proposal exciting local hopes of job creation (it was first won for the Liberals in the late sixties due to the local popularity of the Ord River scheme boondoggle). However, a reader has suggested the snap election announcement has left Aboriginal voters in newly acquired Halls Creek and surrounding communities off the rolls, making the seat potentially of interest.
Kalgoorlie (Liberal 7.2%): A very rough roughie maybe, but worth a mention due to the departure of Matt Birney who won the seat for the Liberals for the first time in 2001 and picked up a 7.5 per cent swing against the trend of the 2005 election. The Liberals have nominated 27-year-old pastoralist Nat James, said to have been a surprise preselection winner over Kalgoorlie-Boulder Chamber of Commerce president Guy Brownlee; Labor’s Mathew Cuomo has rather more of a profile as a local lawyer. The race is further complicated by the entry of John Bowler, the Labor-turned-independent member for abolished Murchison-Eyre who remains popular locally despite being sacked as a cabinet minister in 2007 over dealings with Brian Burke and Julian Grill (the latter of whom preceded him as member for Murchison-Eyre). Local observers also aren’t writing off Nationals candidate Tony Crook.
265 comments on “Half-time report: lower house”
The current WA government will not refer its IR powers. It may pass mirrored legislation, or may have a “text based referral”, ie. a form of referral that can be revoked by State Parliament at any time. There will be no Victoria-style formal referral of the remaining IR powers with respect to non-constitutional corporations or State government entities.
Looks as if Colin’s plan to fill WA’s prisons with minor drug offenders might be a solution in search of a problem.
Hopefully Labor will pick this up and run with it as it puts a bit of a hole in one of the Libs Laura Norder planks.
Thanks Anthony – usually here they just call me a dill, which I’m pretty comfortable with.
Hmmm, I remember being in Victoria for the week before the election. There was a shift on about the Wednesday/Thursday – what started happening was that people started calling in to both the Greens & ALP offices (I had cause to be contacting the ALP on behalf of the Vic Greens) asking to help hand out material (leaflets & particularly HTV’s) when previously it had been really quite difficult to get people out. On the Monday I had an ALP organiser saying they were going to be lucky to properly cover booths in Ballarat & Bendigo, but by Thursday had way more than enough. I always had a sense that people thought it might actually be possible to change Government and decided to try, rather than just accepting that Kennett was going to win
Peter Kennedy on the Week in Politics.
The public sector will remain with the States. Otherwise the lot will be referred.
Not that it matters in any event 85% of employers are constitutional corporations.
Even if it is correct that there is a secret or unannounced agreement to refer IR powers – and I’ve seen no evidence for it other than your own assertion – from an electoral point of view this is the same as there being no agreement. The WA Libs have no IR policy to offer, and no reason that they can, or are willing, to point to for having none. The effect on voters is the same as if they actually had no reason for having no policy. At best, it makes them look amateurish and incompetent, a perception they are struggling to escape from anyway. At worst, it makes them look like scheming bastards who know that, if they revealed their intentions with respect to IR, they would be unpopular with voters.
Perhaps Stewart J, but Labor won seats it had never held before in history, seats it wouldn’t have even bothered polling. It won every seat in Bendigo and Ballarat for the first time. It won Narracan for the first time in decades. But it only gained 3 seats in Melbourne on a small swing.
And as I said, Labor were so worried about Melbourne they were door knocking their own seats. If you had a perception, it obviously wasn’t in the party polling. I’ve seen more 20:20 hindsight about the 1999 Victorian election then any other in my time.
I’d assume we would expect some sort of a Westpoll out overnight Antony would we? I just hope it shows the Liberals being competitive still.
Don’t worry Dovif (144) – If the Liberals win the next election, they’ll very quickly find a reason why privatisation is a good idea after all. A leopard doesn’t change its spots and you can be sure their decision to vote against it was based on short term expediency, not any kind of principle.
Mail Watch – Swan Hills.
Letter from Graham Giffard re Banning GM Crops.
Frank Alban, letter promising New Primary School for Ellenbrook, and a new Distict High School for Bullsbrook, plus a 4 page glossy Liberal Party brochure outlining their promises so far – no doubt funded by the 500 club.
It should be pointed out there are 3 Government Primary Schools in the area already, plus a High School, and several private schools.
161 Darn – the reason the Libs gave for voting against privatisation was because NOW was not the right time economically to do it. You can bet the right time for them would be just after they were elected.
Who says the Libs have learned nothing in 8 years of opposition, the realisation that building schools beats the hell out running them down.
Hmm, Barnett is throwing money at the North West.
I’ve tallied up the mail stuff and here are the figures.
ALP – 9 items (including 1 addressed to me as a member seeking support with campaigning)
Libs – 4.
Other parties nil.
The ALP figure should be plus 1 addresed to me which makes it 10.
William’s in the sealed section of Crikey again 🙂
Yes, there will be some sort of referral of powers by WA. However, it will not be a complete referral. The closest to that will be a text-based referral, which can be revoked by the State.
Around 35% of employees in WA remain in the State industrial relations system (this includes State Government employees, employees of sole traders and partnerships, and employees of incorporated entities without significant trading or financial activities). The 85% of employees (not employers, as you said) is a national figure, and that includes the entirety of employees in Victoria, the Territories and the federal public service.
There will not be a full referral of powers by the WA Government (unless there is a change of Government). Either cite your source or shut up.
I don’t understand how you could claim that there was some secret decision made last Friday, while the WA Govt is in caretaker mode. The other States can’t resolve to refer WA’s powers on its behalf. Nor would NSW have been in any position to make a decision, given the fact that the are currently without a substantive Minister (Della Bosca has been temporarily stood down).
Looks like a bit of polling is needed to refresh the election narrative.
PS Sorry to have drifted off topic, but it is related to the question of the Liberal Party’s intentions re: IR
The Greens must be going for the Monarchist vote… from a Greens WA media statement:
Mitchella Hutchins, a well known local indigenous woman running for the Greens against Troy Buswell, is a major challenge for the discredited, ex- leader of the Liberal Party.
“The Greens are running a strong candidate against a man who has discredited himself, the Parliament and the Liberal Party,” says Greens Member for the South West, Paul Llewellyn.
“Mitchella Hutchins is a high profile, local business woman who is well respected in the Vasse area and who has met the Governor and the Queen.
Oh Dear, Colin is going to look like a dill if this is indeed the case.
which is related to this.
Peter Kennedy says this text message was sent to him “in the early hours of the morning” from a person who “has been a good source in the past”.
I had posted the audio file earlier, but thanks for the transcript anyway 🙂
Looks very close. Bridging a two seat gap doesn’t seem insurmountable.
The last week should be crucial, with anything potentially tipping the pendulum one way or the other. More corruption revelations could do it.
177 “More corruption revelations could do it.”
AC more likely they will backfire but it would be funny watching the Liberals snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
That two seat gap might be less surmountable than it looks. Look at the pendulum and you will see the Liberals need to hold Albany and Geraldton and win nine seats from Labor. Kingsley and Bunbury are apparently in the bag, and they can surely win Darling Range. Candidate factors in Collie-Preston (Mick Murray has already had his sophomore surge and Steve Thomas hasn’t) and North West (Labor candidate still perceived as blow-in goes up against a popular returning former member) suggest they are respectively likely and possible Liberal gains. Riverton very shaky for Labor as well. There’s six seats, but the next three are harder to find. If the northern suburbs truly are “tiger country”, Joondalup and Swan Hills might be on the table – though the consensus seems to be that they’re not, which suggests this “tiger country” line reflects a swing of about 4 per cent. Other required gains will have to come from areas that are expressly not “tiger country”, and thus on track to produce smaller swings. Jandakot (3.6 per cent) has enjoyed the double whammy of the Mandurah rail line and the Fiona Stanley Hospital project. Beyond that, Forrestfield (4.5 per cent), Southern River (5.1 per cent) and Mount Lawley (5.8 per cent) look out of range, and aren’t being discussed.
Victoria 1999, Anthony right that there has been a lot of hindsight. I once heard a senior ALP figure say that it was on the night before that they concluded that if the drift of votes continued they had a chance. Parties should be encouraged to donate their private polling for academic study after a decent interval. I suspect much of it would have little relation to what leaks out.
Re Barnett’s Inpex claims, the Northern Treasurer has already rejected the claim that Darwin has been selected.
Former WA Premier Peter Dowding talks to the ABC’s Adam Haynes about the election campaign.
I think the final result will be
With Lab losing Kingsley, Darling and Bunno
Ive tipped Walker snatching Nedlands, but I wouldnt bet my house on it (if i owned a house)
And btw, Joondalup will not fall, I’ve been at the Joondalup AEC office doing pre-poll HTV handouts, Labor is performing strongly. Tony seems to be a popular local member.
Re Ocean Reef handouts, too close to call
Mindarie, def Labor, same with Wanneroo
It’s funny how often Colin Barnett mentions Donna Faragher. I’d never heard of her until two weeks ago.
Any word on the ground on the Buswell website ? Do you think it’s a deciding factor ?
That’s her married name, she entered the upper house at the last election under her maiden name, which was Taylor.
“Labor believes it will retain Geraldton and possibly Albany. ”
Doesn’t that make it a 4 seat gap if this is possible.
Doesn’t that Buswell website stuff just put Buswell in the limelight again. No matter which way it comes Buswell is still not what the Libs want at the forefront of voter’s minds.
No, I doubt anyone cares about that silly website
These things may seem big in the news cycle, but for most people, its a vote for the party with the prettiest HTV cards. A large amount of people asked me today which party is currently in government, and decided they would just vote for them.
Oh yes, I dimly remember Donna Taylor.
Exactly, I’m pretty sure internal polling on both sides has highlighted this and that the mere mention of his name is enough to turn people off.
I see my summary overlooked Ocean Reef, which you’d think the Liberals would win.
So can anyone confirm if we are getting a Westpoll this evening/2mw?
And I haven’t heard of her yet. What’s that about William? Something I’ve missed?
Donna Farragher, I mean.
Positive ALP ad with Carpenter and two of his daughters just screened on Ch 10 and is up on the ALP site.
William, yes I noticed that, Ocean Reef is a generally affluent Ocean side seat similar to Hillary’s. It’s a still got a more of a younger demographic than Hillarys tho (a lot of young people staying with the parentals), and Ocean Reef (the suburb) actually has the highest number number of overseas born residents in the metro area, so it is quite unique.
It’s in a fairly strong Lib Fed area, however Quigley seemed to do quite well as the Labor state member.
Barnett keeps mentioning her as a rising liberal star and future Minister. and their youngest member at 33.
That new positive ad is quite good. Carpenter is so much more likeable than cardboard Barnett.
And have you noticed how Carpenter isn’t afraid to use his family, unlike Barnett who famously said to Carpenter as Education Minister on the eve of the 2001 poll “Leave my boy alone” when Carpenter asked Barnett if he will send his son to a Government School.
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