WA election plus two days

• The image below indicates the notional margins in metropolitan seats going into the election, and the results as of the close of count on election night. Click on the image to toggle between the two. Colour coding runs from very light for below 2 per cent to very heavy for above 15 per cent.

• Exchange from 6PR election night broadcast between former Liberal leader Matt Birney, broadcaster Howard Sattler and former Labor MP Graham Edwards. Much more remains to be said on The West Australian’s extraordinary coverage of this campaign, but Birney hits on the main themes.

MB: The West Australian newspaper, the journalists down there have been having running fights and personality clashes with Alan Carpenter and his senior ministers including Jim McGinty who once banned them. And I’ll tell you what, they have taken it upon themselves to punish those ministers for those personality clashes, and some of the articles have appeared day after day after day on The West Australian newspaper I think have just damaged the hell out of the Labor Party, and I might say as a Liberal, I’m prepared to say, some of them very unfairly.

HS: And yet today the paper said … today editorial in the paper said vote Labor!

MB: No it didn’t at all, that was Paul Armstrong trying to cover his backside in case the board tapped him on the shoulder and say, what do you think you’re doing.

HS: I know what you mean, but 95 per cent of the editorial bagged the Carpenter government and the last 5 per cent said vote for him (laughs) …

MB: Can I just respond to that? For those people who read the editorial, they’d realise that the editorial was absolutely scathing of the Labor Party …

HS: It was.

MB: … and then in the very last line said, but it’s probably a safe vote to vote Labor. Do you know what that was? That was Paul Armstrong, the editor of The West Australian, covering his backside in case he got a phone call from Peter Mansell, the chairman of the board, saying “I think you guys have allowed your personality clashes with these ministers to play out in the pages of our newspaper” …

During the campaign in particular there were a number of articles that were completely beaten up. For instance, the headline saying Michelle Roberts has dared the Premier to sack her. Well, she never did any such thing. The Premier flies to Albany, as you do when you’re a leader, to announce a renewble energy policy, and The West focus in on how much fuel he used in the aeroplane. You know, The West said “oh, the Labor Party aren’t in fact the green party because they’re bringing on 1100MW of coal and gas-fired power”. Well, if they didn’t do that the state would be on its knees. I could go on and on …

GE: Certainly the campaign between The West and the Carpenter government was a very intriguing one. It was there and it was real and I think Matt’s hit the nail on the head.

MB: It was juvenile, wasn’t it? … I don’t think that The West have a left-wing bias, I think that their journalists get into a fight with a politician, they then go back to their office and they say, “right, I’ll stitch that bloke up”, and then they find the worst headline and the worst story they can and they beat the hell out of it, and they then stick it into the paper for the next day and they say “there you go, cop that one, you want to be …”.

HS: So it’s all about megalomania.

MB: Oh, it’s out of control, it’s a teenage rampage down there at The West Australian at the moment.

• Another highlight of the 6PR coverage, from Gary Gray:

Whoever was running that campaign panicked about the middle of last week, and they got away from the solid Vision, Stability, Leadership campaign they’d been running before in a fairly focused way and started pulling out scare ads of the uranium kinds and other things, and I think it was a huge error to do that.

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.

261 comments on “WA election plus two days”

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  1. For all those who are convinced the Nats will save the WA Labor party the following post from our own inimitable Frank Calabrese sums up the reality very well:

    Frank Calabrese Says:
    August 18th, 2008 at 4:05 pm
    And I’ve noticed they’ve updated the original story.

    The WA Nationals have backed away from their earlier threat to preference Labor and the Greens ahead of the Liberal Party in some seats.

    Nationals Leader Brendan Grylls says the decision to put the Liberals ahead of Labor and the Greens in every Upper and Lower House seat, recognises there is a mood for change in regional WA.

    Some Liberals claimed the Nationals would suffer a backlash from their traditional supporters if they put Labor first.

    And this is interesting from Grylls.

    Mr Grylls is still adamant there will not be a coalition, even though the Nationals are giving the Liberals favourable treatment on preferences.

    “We do have to put one before the other and like I said the mood I have felt is a mood for change and a mood for the Labor Party to be removed from Government,” he said.

    Talk about being “Independent”, when push comes to shove, it’s all about their survival as a party.

  2. Here’s Maywald’s advice.

    William’s hat must be getting nervous.

    Mrs Maywald says the WA Nationals can work successfully with either major party.

    “I believe these days the Liberal and the Labor governments, particularly at the state level, it’s a bit of a race for the centre ground, so there’s not that large a difference philosophically as there was in the olden days,” she said.

    “I work with the government of the day – I’ve worked with the Liberal government and I’ve worked with the Labor government to get the best outcome for regional South Australia.”


  3. Hm. Barnett seems to be falling into line:


    Mr Barnett also spoke to Mr Grylls yesterday morning and booked a meeting with the kingmaker early today.

    He seemed keen to play up the traditional Liberal-Nationals alliance and declared the two parties were “on the same page” on the issue of more funding for the regions.

    “As I have said before, the door is always open. We have always governed together as a coalition; whether it is a coalition or some sort of alliance (this time) I don’t know,” he said.

    “We recognise that there is a strong call from regional areas for more to be spent in those areas. I said during the campaign that the Liberal Party would commit $50million to a northern towns program, so we’re on the same page as far as that is concerned. I am very comfortable with doing more in the regional areas and I hope that Brendon and I can discuss that.”

  4. “Oh, it’s out of control, it’s a teenage rampage down there at The West Australian at the moment.”

    And geriatric rampage at the OO for a long while.

    I dare say the game has changed. None expected that Labor would lose or get to this stage. Grylls is faced with a new reality. He will come under enormous pressure to comply from the Liberal party – though I don’t know what they could threaten the NATS with.

    Now if the NATS feel they are likely to be humoured or be ignored by the Libs as usual then the prospect of have some real relevance and importance with Labor might be enticing.

    I believe this is also a rare opportunity for federal Labor to put a few chinks in the federal relationship between Nats and Libs. If the can prise the Nats away from the Libs here then that makes the federal world look a whole lot different.

    It will take a fair bit of courage for Grylls to follow through, does he have the guts?

  5. Carpenter is certainly different. His comment that working with the National Party would be exciting sounded genuine. He didn’t seem to be forcing the smile. For those of us with long memories scary would be a better word. Anyway I think the Nats will support Barnett after getting the most blood out of the situation. They’re just playing the political game very cleverly.

  6. TP @ 5: I don’t know enough about Grylls, but he seems the real deal – I just read a backgrounder in the OO on him, and the Nats have been running ads on their Royalties for Regions since January.

    They seem to have positioned themselves well to do a deal with either side, without alienating their (newish?) base.

    If Grylls can bring home the bacon, then he appears to have enough cover to survive a deal with the ALP.

  7. Okay to all the Lib Losers here I want to point out one thing for you:

    The LIBS CAN *NOT* win in WA.

    It’s not the Nats fault. It’s not the “political systems” fault. It’s the fact you do NOT have enough seats.

    You need 30 seats to form government. It looks like Labor has won 29. Your mob has won 22. The Nats have won 4. Independents 4.

    So Labor needs just 1 single Nationals vote, 1 single Independents vote to form a government.

    Now if it was just a matter of forming a coalition with the Nats, the Libs in my mind WOULD have won this election! But you CAN’T. You need the 22 Libs, 4 Nats and ALL 4 Independents(good luck getting all 4 to vote the way you want). It’s completely unfeasible.

    Why do you think that the Nats are so keen to team up with Labor? They know that if they don’t, they will be out on their arses for another 4 years. Labor doesn’t need the Nats to form government, they can simply try and bring a Independent into the fold.

    You guys better break out the kleenex, because you have no chance.

  8. As a South Australian here’s some well publicised information about Karlene Maywald, the National MP who sits in the Labor ministry. A recent poll taken by The Adelaide Advertiser has put Maywald on only 10% of the vote in her regional electorate where they think she has become a completely ineffective member due to her getting in bed with Labor and not being able to deliver a better River Murray (which falls inside her ministry). There are other factors at play, but the electorate largely feel betrayed by Maywald and her chances of reelection appear (at this stage) near nil.

    I think Brendon Grylls ought to bear this in mind.

  9. Okay what’s the likely finish everyone. And what’s a feesible probability percentage that the national’s team up with ALP?

  10. I saw Brendan Grylls being interviewed by Peter Kennedy on the ABC on election night, and when asked about Karlene Maywald, who is a National sitting in the ALP cabinet in South Australia, he said: “she is my role model and I will be phoning her shortly to discuss my options”

    Birney was also interviewed and reiterated what he said about the West.

    good on him.

  11. Why does everyone think the Nats are getting cosy with the Labor Party if they didn’t need to?

    Labor is the only party with any chance of forming a stable government, and will most likely form a coalition with 2 of the independents.

    The Nats are desperate to form a coalition with the Labor Party now because the writing is on the wall and they don’t want to be out on their arses for another 4 Years.

  12. I agree, with all on the ALP/NATS coalition as the unionist(notionally ALP people), and the national party person are much closer ideologically than many other parties. The political spectrum resembles a circle more than a linear line. The further you get ot to the ends the closer the ends come together.

  13. Centaur: I would have to say “odds on”.

    The more I think about it, the more the Nats have to gain from an alliance with Labor.

    They were dying a slow death in coalition, and being ‘independant’ has done well for them.

    I like the Piping Shrike’s http://thepipingshrike.blogspot.com/ parting comments that the Nats should “(become) an independent party before they become a party of Independants”

  14. Just to make it all more interesting.

    The Nationals are considering abandoning their federal coalition with the Liberal Party, with Senator Barnaby Joyce signalling he would support the power shift.

    Nationals Leader Warren Truss says the party’s strong polling in the West Australian election has prompted him to contemplate splitting from the Liberals at a national level.


  15. there is no reason why both the ALP and the Libs cannot meet the Nats regional investment requirements without looking as if they are being help to ransom.

    I am a Perth resident but concede that there is major infrastructure investment required throughout the state to assist the mining and agricultural industries. The new Okajee port; improvements to all the iron ore ports across the Pilbara; re-nationlisation of the rural rail freight network; road improvement schemes; a new gas pipeline; assistance with the iron ore rail network; renewable energy schemes (wind on the coast, solar in the interior, tidal up north); water investment.

    all these can be argued to benefit people in Perth as much as the regions if they stimulate development.

  16. Why is everyone talking ‘coalition’?

    I presume it’ll be support on supply and confidence (contingent on the govt fulfilling a one-way deal/filling the pork barrel). Plus one or two ministers, juggling an obligation of cabinet confidentiality with a tepid expectation of cabinet solidarity, except on whichever rural or social issues the Nats wish to sound off on.

    And I assume Grylls will contemplate nothing more formal with the Libs, although there is less room on some if not all issues for there to be a big falling out.

    And when they fall out – the Nats can just cut another deal with the Opposition, whoever that is. The prospect of this takes us back to politics a la 1900s-1910s, between protectionist, free traders, liberals, tories, labor, country parties.

    Maybe they should fly Winston Peters in as a consultant?

    I am, however, pontificating from the other side of the continent – what do others see as the format of any deal?

  17. It is all about bush issues not conservative politics

    Labor and the Nats both represent a significant number of rural and regional seats in the lower house.

    ALP- Collie, Albany, Pilbara, Kimberly and if you dare consider Bowler a “Labor Independant”, Kalgorlie too. (are there any others?)

    Nats have four seats

    I don’t see why the Libs should be front runners on a deal aimed at better funding for regional WA. They would only be the logical choice if the consideration is about conservative politics.

    What angle to you think Grille is taking?

  18. Which ever way it goes we know who will control the government. We are going to be essentially looking at a National Party goverment. “Do as we want or the otherside joins us in power.” Both major parties will get absolutuely jack of that and seek another election pretty quickly IMHO. Stable government is a thing of the past for WA I’m afraid.

  19. “Which ever way it goes we know who will control the government. We are going to be essentially looking at a National Party goverment.”

    Gary, that’s not true. While the Liberal Party cannot form government without the support of the Nationals, it’s still possible for Labor to form a minority government without the support of the Nationals.

  20. You said “Which ever way it goes we know who will control the government”, which implies that National control is a foregone conclusion. It is not.

  21. Laugh ye all, but protectionist policies, job protection, subsidised industry, import tarrifs are leaves taken from both books. A free market threatens both.

  22. Is that the ghost of bob santamaria? how is the after life? Did you find out what happened with Harold holt? Was he taken by a soviet submarine, or is he with you?

  23. Labor winning 29 seats is fanciful, Alfred Cove looks like being a Liberal gain and with postals and prepolls, the Libs should take Riverton and Wanneroo and in the seat of North West when preferences are counted Sweetman could well fall over the line. Morely also could end up being a Liberal gain.

    It takes just one slip and Labor are done, the postals and prepolls will help the Libs not the ALP and therefore the Libs have a far greater chance of ending up with 25-6 MPs than Labor has at having 29.

  24. Centaur_007 @ 37

    Agree. The nat/lab brand separation isn’t in the economics. It is in socially progressive v socially conservative elements of the brands.

    If it wasn’t for the nats you would have some sort of flat-earth, League of Rights type of splinter party. They would never hold many seats, but from time to time they would hold the balance of power. Long term, the demographics are going to beat this particular political niche into oblivion.

    Federally, the immediate problem for both libs and nats is that the libs went economically dry and socially conservative, got rid of their wets, and strayed into nat brand territory.

    The best hope for the nats is a separate rural social, social conservative brand from the libs. They could let the libs aim for the centre and the nats could pick up the righteous rest.

  25. Matt, my comment was on what is likely to happen, not what is possible.
    You said it yourself it is likely to include the Natioals in a coalition. I don’t think I can make that any clearer. However for you I will add an “if it comes about that”. How’s that?

  26. Hasn’t Antony already said that some seats given on the night were given prematurely???

    I am thinking it has to do with preferences, hence North West and Morely spring to mind.

  27. And yet van Onselen gives Morley to Labor. By the way, that doesn’t mean Antony believe Labor won’t win those seats, he just believes its too early to call them.

  28. “Hasn’t Antony already said that some seats given on the night were given prematurely???

    I am thinking it has to do with preferences, hence North West and Morely spring to mind.”

    And this is relevant to Labor winning 29 seats how?

    The Liberal dream of winning the WA State election is over, you can’t do it without the support of all the independents in other words… Buckleys.

    Have another go in 2012

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