Westpoll: Liberal favoured for Nationals alliance

The West Australian has published a Westpoll survey of 400 respondents, of whom 181 (exact figures provided) said they preferred that the Nationals form an alliance with the Liberals against 129 who preferred Labor (44 per cent to 32 per cent). Of the former group, “33 per cent said they believed National voters were traditionally more Liberal than Labor, 32 per cent said the big swing in the election showed voters wanted to get rid of Labor, 21 per cent said Labor had ignored country people, 15 per cent said they preferred Mr Barnett and 6 per cent said it was because of Labor’s one-vote, one-value legislation”. The Liberals were favoured 53-47 on voting intention, although Alan Carpenter retains a lead of 47 per cent to 37 per cent as preferred premier. “Nearly eight out of 10” expressed support for major city projects being shelved to accommodate Royalties for Regions.

The West also reports Jim McGinty “has conceded Labor has probably lost the crucial seats of Wanneroo and Riverton”, where the Liberals say they lead by 280 and 62 votes. The Liberals believe themselves to be 28 votes behind in Albany, whereas Labor thinks the Liberals are one vote ahead. Unless recounts are called, the matter should be settled with tomorrow’s full distribution of preferences. Other seats which might yet hold surprises in store:

North West. Labor’s Vince Catania is the presumed winner of this seat having gained a 1.3 per cent swing, an outwardly remarkable result. However, hidden within this figure is one of the stories of the election: the Nationals polled 22.3 per cent after failing to contest the equivalent seats in 2005, gouging 10.1 per cent from the Liberal primary vote along with 7.2 per cent from Labor. This puts them in third place on 22.3 per cent behind 36.4 per cent for Labor and 27.0 per cent for Liberal. Preferences from independent Lex Fullarton (7.1 per cent), and to a lesser extent Greens candidate Peter Shaw (7.2 per cent, most of which will flow to Labor) might yet give them the 4.7 per cent boost they need to get ahead of the Liberals, in which case they would comfortably win the seat on Liberal preferences. The difference between the primary and notional two-party results suggest as many as 40 per cent of Nationals preferences were flowing to Labor (UPDATE: A Labor source writes to say it was more like a third, Labor’s other preferences coming from Fullarton; expects a significant proportion of Fullarton votes, including donkey votes, to go straight to Labor rather than helping the Nationals close their gap on the Liberals). However, it would have been a very different story in the Agricultural and South West region seats which the Nationals actually won, and to which their MPs will have to return after deciding which horse to back.

Kwinana. Independent candidate Carol Adams, who it must be said has reason to be displeased with the ALP, may have crowed too early when she expressed interest in the police and local government portfolios. As the count progressed her primary vote deficit against Labor increased from 15.4 per cent to 18.7 per cent, leaving her needing 77 per cent of preferences from the other candidates. Antony Green estimates she will receive 85 per cent, perhaps 90 per cent, of the 18.8 per cent Liberal vote. However, her share of other candidates’ votes (10.5 per cent Greens, 3.8 per cent Family First and 1.7 per cent for another independent) is likely to be in the high sixties. That makes it a very close call.

Alfred Cove. On Wednesday, The West Australian reported that Liberal candidate Chris Back was “closing” on independent member Janet Woollard, who led by just 20 votes. However, nothing has been heard since. Woollard trails Back 43.3 per cent to 25.3 per cent on the primary vote, and will need about 73 per cent of the preferences from Labor (20.3 per cent), the Greens (9.5 per cent) and the Christian Democratic Party (1.5 per cent).

In the upper house, the only certain result is the reliable North Metropolitan region, which has returned three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens member. The Liberals have also done very well to win three seats in the other two metropolitan regions, in which the Greens and the third Labor are fighting for the final seats. The Nationals have won two seats in Agricultural and are in what looks like a winning battle with Family First for a third, with the remainder going two Liberal and one Labor. South West also has the Nationals leading Family First in a contest for the final seat, the others going three Liberal and two Labor. The Nationals have also won one seat and possibly two in Mining and Pastoral, the second seat coming down to a fight with the Greens, while Labor and the Liberals have won two each.

Labor will thus win between 11 and 13 seats, and the Nationals three to six. Getting a Labor-Nationals Royalties for Regions deal through without the support of the Greens or Family First would require the best case scenario for both parties, which almost certainly won’t happen: the Greens are ahead in all three of their doubtful seats, to add to their certain win in North Metropolitan. The Liberals on the other hand will definitely have a majority of the 36 seats together with the Nationals, appearing almost certain to win 16 seats.

UPDATE: It’s confirmed that Labor is home in North West and Pilbara. The Sunday Times has a very interesting article on the Nationals’ deliberations, suggesting Warren Truss is desperately trying to talk Brendon Grylls out of a possible deal with Labor. Nationals MP Max Trenorden, an opponent of the Labor option, says he is “not going to say whether I am happy with the decision or not, but I’m certainly not going to commit suicide over it”.

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.

212 comments on “Westpoll: Liberal favoured for Nationals alliance”

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  1. Lordy – I’d reckon the Libs would be WETTING themselves at the prospect that the Nats might go with Labor – and worse, given the Nationals record as a broadly agrarian socialist party – that it MIGHT work!! They’d have up to four years to deliver enough results to swing some of the Nat constituents. And in the context of Labor alliances, it was interesting to be referred to Grylls maiden speech, the first half of which could have come from an ALP platform – compassionate angles on refugees, gay rights and indigenous welfare.

  2. The scrutineers were informally tallying those as the primary votes were counted. Either they miscounted (quite possible – the Labor and Liberal tallies were a fair bit different) or something showed up.

  3. Labor 27; Liberal 24; Nationals 4; Liz Constable; John Bowler; Undecided 2. The undecided are Alfred Cove, between Liberal and independent Janet Woollard, and Kwinana, between Labor and independent Carol Adams. So a Liberal minority government would need to be backed by two independents, remembering that one is almost-Liberal Liz Constable and another has hitched his vote to the Nationals.

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