The longest day

UPDATE (9.30pm): Liberals win Nedlands by 987 votes.

UPDATE (9pm): Janet Woollard wins Alfred Cove by 405 votes. Liberals win Morley by 340. Labor wins Collie-Preston by 411. Labor wins Kwinana by 300. Only Nedlands to go, where the Liberals are believed to be home and hosed.

UPDATE (3pm): Alan Carpenter resigns as Labor leader.

UPDATE (11.30am): Nationals back the Liberals. Colin Barnett the new Premier.

UPDATE (11am): Brendon Grylls to hold press conference at 11.30am.

Perth’s Sunday Times newspaper brings a remarkable account of yesterday’s deliberations by the WA Nationals’ state parliamentary party, which met to decide who it would back to form government. Appearing under the headline: “DONT YOU DARE: Nats’ boss last-ditch plea to stop WA Labor marriage”, the report by Joe Spagnolo relates that federal leader Warren Truss made a “last-ditch plea” to talk state leader Brendon Grylls out of “a shock alliance with Labor”. Agricultural region upper house MP Max Trenorden, a known opponent of any deal with Labor, is quoted saying: “I am not going to say whether I am happy with the decision or not, but I’m certainly not going to commit suicide over it.” We will find out what that means exactly later today, after the parliamentary party puts its recommendation to the state council.

The Nationals’ endgame comes as the Western Australian Electoral Commission spends the weekend conducting preference counts in 11 seats designated as in doubt. The big news from the six counts conducted yesterday was that Labor retained Albany by a surprisingly comfortable 96 votes, while falling 64 votes short in Riverton. In North West, the Nationals fell 67 votes short of overtaking the Liberals in the second last count and taking the seat from Labor with their preferences, the final result being a 719 vote (6.9 per cent) Labor win over Liberal. Also determined were Forrestfield (Labor by 98 votes), Wanneroo (Liberal by 322) and Pilbara (Labor by 534).

Of the five seats to be counted today, two are genuinely in doubt: Alfred Cove, which the Liberals might recover from two-term independent member Janet Woollard, and Kwinana, where Labor has been gaining on independent front-runner Carol Adams in late counting. This puts the numbers at Labor 27, Liberal 24, Nationals four, independents two and two in doubt. The two confirmed independents are both in the orbit of another party: Churchlands MP Liz Constable has been promised a position in a Liberal cabinet, while Kalgoorlie MP John Bowler has resolved to work in concert with the Nationals. Nonetheless, any Liberal-Nationals arrangement will have to rely on the support of one or possibly two independents to maintain a majority in the lower house, whereas Labor plus the Nationals will equal a clear majority.

It’s the opposite story in the upper house, through which any Royalties for Regions deal would also need to navigate. While final seats remain in varying degree of doubt in all regions except North Metropolitan, the Liberals appear certain to win 16 seats out of 36 while Labor can hope for no more than 13, and are more likely to win 11. With the Nationals looking at five or six seats, the support of the Greens would probably be needed to pass a Labor-Nationals scheme that was opposed by the Liberals.

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.

524 comments on “The longest day”

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  1. [Interesting Frank. How in the hell did he get elected then?]

    His old seat was incorporated into the new seat of Kalgoorlie and his supposedly strong following got him elected.

  2. @495

    Well, if a chains there for pulling……

    Could be by-election heaven in W.A. over the next few years and depending on retirements (forced or otherwise) each one will be hard fought. Puts Barnett in a difficult situation if anyone Lib or supporting him gets named and shamed by the CCC. He doesnt have the majority to do without them, but would he want the baggage that will go with keeping them on?

  3. Gary: there’s nothing wrong with Ian Britza, health / corruption wise. The Liberals would be hoping like hell that doesn’t change, because out of all the close seats they’ve got, Morley’s the most likely to go back to Labor at the next election. Only reason they got it at all was D’Orazio, and I can’t see him running again.

  4. Come on Glen, a little consistency here. Is Bowler the type of person you want on your team? You’re usually straight to the point.

  5. Back on topic slightly, this is a very interesting read for those who haven’t found it yet:

    Nationals know how the west was won – Peter van Onselen

    Onselen claims – and doesn’t mince his words, and obviously has tight sources – that Grylls wanted to form with a Labor government, who apparently offered close to double that of the Liberals in terms of funds and also a much better cabinet deal. He was voted down though by his colleagues in the various meetings that took place.

    I have to agree with William who suggested earlier that if not for the Liberal control of the upper house, this actually might have swung the other way. The Libs would have been in no mood to pass any royalty program commissioned by a Labor/National government that’s for sure, scuttering entire legislation agendas and in the process ensuring the Nats were wiped out at the next election. This was the only was anything was going to be done for the bush. But there is always going to be that ‘what if’ factor now.

    I guess we’ll never know.

    However, at a personal level, Grylls wanted his team to support a Labor government led by Alan Carpenter. He was outvoted by his Nationals colleagues, a reality check for the rising star of WA politics. The young leader was wooed by a significant slush fund for the bush offered by the Labor Party, the details of which were put in writing by Carpenter and are expected to be released for public viewing today alongside an offer Barnett put forward.

    Carpenter’s offer included an amount of money almost twice the size of Barnett’s, the distribution of which would have been put in the hands of Nationals MPs given portfolio responsibility for the regions, effectively creating a two-tiered government structure: one set of ministers for the regions and one for Perth.

  6. Gary the ALP would have had to gain his support if the Nats had backed, since he allied with them you, so lets not go nuts here.

    Let’s face it corruption within the ALP has caused it many of the problems it now faces itself in today.

  7. I’m going to ask a very silly question here so bear with me.
    Many of you quote numbers eg. Frank @504. Unlike the previous Poll Bludger site I’m not seeing any numbers here. Is there some way to, for want of a better term, “switch” them on?

  8. Gary,
    in very large font, but theyt are faint thoug- William, can you fix that ?
    The post numbers are on the right like this – 514 but the font is rather faint, can you fix William ?

  9. Glen, with all due respect, that is a BS answer. I wasn’t the one making much of corruption. You were absolutely paranoid about it and yet you are happy to have Bowler on your team. In fact you mentioned about the CCC and Bowler yourself. I’m afraid that is just plain hypocritical.

  10. Thanks Frank. I had “Favourites showing on the screen which toally blocked out the numbers. However, even after removing Favourites from the screen I can only only see the 5

  11. No 512

    As has been said many times, the fact is that any deal with Labor would have destroyed the base of the Nationals long term from both voter disgust and aggressive campaigns by Liberals in every Nationals seat.

    Of course Carpenter threw in the pork by the barrel-load, but that’s only because he was so desperate to form government that the entire budget was up for grabs.

  12. Gary I don’t know how it is possible you can only see the 5. The post number is in the top right hand corner of every post, so if you are getting the remaining two numbers chopped off you should be getting part of every post chopped off as well…

    Are you sure you are looking in the right place? Or are you using an unusual internet browser or something?

  13. Moral to this story … Carol Adams should not be crowing before the sun has risen! She was saying that she wanted the Local Govt and Police portfolios! Presumption … ?

  14. congrats to carol. shame about giff though, he is a top bloke and to end this chapter of his political career going out in Swan Hills just didn’t do him justice.

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