Fremantle by-election: May 16

This post is being progressively updated to follow events in the campaign for the May 16 by-election in the Western Australian state seat of Fremantle.

Wednesday, May 6

Last night’s by-election forum at Notre Dame University saw a crowd of several hundred assemble to observe and interrogate 10 of the 11 candidates, independent Rosemary Anne Lorrimar having made her apologies. Although a highly entertaining affair, one wonders about the representativeness of an audience that appeared sharply divided between left and right. The former included a lot of very vocal Greens who extended an equally sympathetic hearing to the Socialist Alliance, while the latter consisted of a remarkably well mobilised crowd of Christian Democratic Party supporters. This included state party figurehead Gerard Goiran, who managed to get a question in. If any Labor partisans were present, they kept their thoughts largely to themselves.

As expected, Tagliaferri faced uncomfortable moments over the previous government’s stance on lead carbonate shipments and his own role in the Fremantle Markets stallholders issue, to which he offered practised responses. He also came face-to-face with Australian Services Union secretary Paul Burlinson over the non-union contracts episode, and found himself used as a punching bag for concerns over uranium and GM crops. His least convincing responses related to the Labor how-to-vote card’s placement of the Christian parties ahead of the Greens, and whether he would cross the floor on issues affecting the electorate. On the first count he replied that the only votes he cared about were primary ones – an honest answer would have been that they were keeping the card as simple as possible to reduce the informal vote, and it’s really only of academic interest anyway. The second was despatched with a line of obfuscation about “always putting Fremantle first”. It was a point worth pursuing, because Labor would face an interesting dilemma if Tagaliaferri did anything to warrant disendorsement, given its evident dependence on him to retain the seat.

Adele Carles inevitably had a much easier time, notwithstanding challenges from CDP supporters over drugs and prostitution, to which her responses would have neither won nor lost her any friends. Her strongest moment came when she told the audience they faced a choice between an independent voice and a Labor backbencher, artfully capped off with “sorry Peter”. She also spoke well in opposition to the “Dubai style” North Port Quay development. Her weakest moment came when she essentially told a representative of the Leeuwin tall ship replica project they could have as much money as they liked.

The outstanding performer of the minor candidates was a very articulate Sam Wainwright of the Socialist Alliance. Julie Hollett was almost as forceful in her presentation of the CDP’s case, which wasn’t so very different from Wainwright’s if you focused on the diagnosis (“we are currently grappling with the consequences of an immoral corporate culture guided by greed and self-interest”) rather the cure. Andriétte du Plessis of Family First left rather less of an impression, and was knocked back on a show of hands when she requested that Liberal MP turned party candidate Anthony Fels take her place when she had to leave early.

Riverton real estate agent and independent candidate Nik Varga still hasn’t made much of a case as to why he would like to represent Fremantle in particular, and his most memorable contribution was a candid admission of his Liberal sympathies. On the latter count he is in the same boat as Carmelo Zagami, who offered bona fide Fremantle credentials, anti-Labor rhetoric and a reasonable grab bag of local policy concerns. I don’t know how feasible independent Steve Boni’s showpiece policy of an underground freight transport tunnel is, but he at least sounded like he’d thought it through. Local anti-council crusader Jan ter Holst got quite a few laughs, apparently intentionally, while Rob Totten of the Citizens Electoral Council didn’t win too many converts with his poster demonstrating why global warming was a fraud. The rest of his spiel was the usual Larouchite deal about looming global depression and the need for a national bank to finance humungous national infrastructure projects, Rex Connor-style – which you would have to say sounds less bonkers than it used to.

I recorded proceedings on my mobile phone, but a) it didn’t sound very good, b) I accidentally deleted part of it, and c) I gather the ABC are going to put it up as a podcast in any case.

Tuesday, May 5

The candidates’ forum will be held this evening at Notre Dame University’s Drill Hall (at the Marine Terrace end of Mouat Street) at 7.30pm, hosted by Peter Kennedy of the ABC. If you recognise me, come up and say hi. A Labor mailout has hit the letterbox, featuring this covering letter, this flyer and a pamphlet with a front and back. That gives Labor a 2-0 lead in the mailout war. The Western Patriot has a good update on the campaign, which beats me to a point I had planned on making myself: that the widespread media coverage of union dissent with Tagliaferri might steel homeless Liberals to give him their vote, or at least their preference. Or as Western Patriot commenter Peter Van Insolent puts it: “Labor voters will be voting Green because they don’t want to vote Liberal and Liberal voters will be voting Labor because Labor is Liberal”. Labor might have hoped for better timing on the CPRS backdown, but the federal government obviously has bigger fish to fry than the Fremantle by-election.

Sunday, May 3

The Sunday Times has conducted a dubious sounding “survey” of 200 Fremantle voters, without providing details of how it was conducted. Respondents broke 106 for Peter Tagliaferri and 94 for Adele Carles, evidently without being given the option of nominating minor candidates. Today’s Fremantle May Day rally got a good run on the evening news, being the second story on Ten and the ABC and somewhat further down the order on Nine. Both stories focused on the Australian Services Union’s opposition to Peter Tagliaferri, with union secretary Wayne Wood sharing screen time with Tagliaferri and Eric Ripper.

Saturday, May 2

One clear winner has emerged from the campaign so far – the Fremantle Herald, which is bursting this week with election advertising. The paper has a May Day wraparound with a small ad promoting a Greens fundraiser gig at the Fly By Night Club, which I gather will feature Bob Brown backed by Lucky Oceans and Dave Brewer. Page two of the wraparound features ads from Peter Tagliaferri, Melissa Parke and Rachel Siewert. The front page of the paper proper has the first ad I’ve seen from Sam Wainwright, promoting himself as Socialist Alliance but formally an independent. Page three has a second big ad from independent Carmelo Zagami, who gives away rather more than he did in his first ad, along with a quarter-page Tagliaferri ad I can’t be bothered scanning. Adele Carles’ first full page ad graces page five. Page six has a quarter page ad for independent Jan ter Horst and a second entry from deputy mayor John Dowson, taking a too-clever-by-half dig at Tagliaferri. There’s a half-page Tagliaferri ad on the opposite page, and one from the North Port Quay proponents (which doesn’t mention the by-election) across the bottom halves of pages eight and nine. The same full-page ads as appeared for Nik Varga and Steve Boni in the Fremantle Gazette (see below) are on pages 12 and 15.

As for the news, reporter Jenny D’Anger informs us that Labor’s preference determinations have been designed to make the how-to-vote card easy to follow, with the Greens put second last because that’s where they are on the ballot paper (perhaps Labor might give some thought to backing optional preferential voting). Another report finds D’Anger seeking further unions to add to the one laboratory confirmed and one suspected case of anti-Tagliaferrianism, getting no bite from the Maritime Workers Union and no answer from the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union. The paper also features a vox pop in which plentiful support is to be found for the Greens. It was a similar story on the ABC’s Stateline yesterday (link presumably forthcoming), but perhaps that’s café strips for you.

Thursday, April 30

Julian Grill, lobbying colleague of Brian Burke and minister in his government, says Peter Tagliaferri should be expelled from the party he joined so very recently due to his membership of the Liberal fundraiser group the 500 Club. Tagliaferri says he joined after the Barnett government was elected last year to improve his access to its ministers as Fremantle mayor. Grill’s beef is that he himself was expelled ostensibly for making a donation to the Nationals on behalf of a client. This happened in the lead-up to the 2007 federal election, as Labor nervously contemplated the impact of its association with Grill and Burke. Embarrassment followed when it was revealed that Gary Gray, then candidate and now member for Brand, had also made donations to the Nationals in his capacity as corporate affairs director for Woodside – and that he was, in his own words, “a member of the 500 Club for about three years”.

The West Australian also reports that the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union has “told its members to ignore an ALP email calling on party faithful to march with Mr Tagliaferri and to wear T-shirts expressing Labor support” at the May Day rally in Fremantle this weekend. Its concerns are not shared by another union which Labor has traditionally not been able to rely on – the WA Police Union, whose president Mike Dean says Tagliaferri has been “a strong supporter of police for many years on a number of matters, including on wages claims and local policing issues”.

Two independents have expensive full-page ads in this week’s Fremantle Gazette Community newspaper. Independent candidate and Riverton real estate agent Nik Varga interestingly has the “V” in his name spelled with a tilted Liberal Party logo. However, Varga says he “won’t give my preferences to the Greens” due to his pro-development stance, which presumably means Labor will get them instead. The ad sells Varga as an “Independent with a Liberal voice in a Green wilderness”. One-time Labor candidate Steve Boni has a professional looking effort which like Varga’s expresses support for the North Port Quay project. Frank Calabrese in comments notes that authorisation details for each just show name and suburb – not sure how this stacks up against the Electoral Act’s requirement that the “name and address” be shown. Also in the Fremantle Gazette is an article by Angie Raphael in which the candidates offer brief explanations of what makes them tick.

More axe-grinding from The Western Patriot, which is overdue to start spelling Tagliaferri’s name correctly (UPDATE: WP’s error now corrected.).

Tuesday, April 28

Labor’s postal vote application mailout is hitting Fremantle’s letterboxes, accompanied by this flier. Paul Murray of The West Australian talks up discontent over the Labor credentials of Peter Tagliaferri, who directed preferences to the Liberals as an independent candidate in 1990 and threatened to run against Melissa Parke as an independent at the federal election. Also noted are his “tentative support” for the North Port Quay project, the council’s eviction of Fremantle Markets stallholders and deputy mayor John Dowson’s campaign against him. The article’s star attraction is Ruth Belben, a one-time electorate officer to John Dawkins whose election to council in 1987 prompted Tagliaferri to complain it had become dominated by Labor. Observing that yesterday’s West Australian report focused on a union not affiliated with the ALP, Bule in comments argues: “The real story will be when/if an affiliated union splits to oppose Tagliaferri.”

Monday, April 27

Saturday’s West Australian reported that the Australian Services Union will meet to consider a recommendation by secretary Wayne Wood that it campaign for Adele Carles. The union is unhappy with Peter Tagliaferri because of a Fremantle council non-union pay deal, which Tagliaferri argues he could not legally have involved himself with as it was an operational matter.

Friday, April 24

A candidates’ forum will be held at Notre Dame University’s Drill Hall (at the Marine Terrace end of Mouat Street) at 7.30pm on Tuesday, May 5, hosted by Peter Kennedy of the ABC. The public are invited to submit questions for the candidates to

Fremantle deputy mayor John Dowson has been on the warpath against Tagliaferri, first over his move to extend generous lease terms to the Fremantle Italian Club, now on the interesting terrain of Tagliaferri’s alleged neglect of the council’s “green plan”. Dowson has a quarter-page ad in today’s Fremantle Herald in which he says the plan “has not been updated or seriously fudned in the 8 years since he was elected&#148. Elsewhere in the Herald, Adele Carles gets a photo in on front page while Tagliaferri gets two (both posed with Julia Gillard) on page two. There are two ads for Peter Tagliaferri (the one at the top is from last week’s edition), one for the Greens and one for independent Carmelo Zagami.

Saturday, April 18

Robert Taylor reviews the minor players in his Political Sketch column in today’s West Australian:

There’s Christian Democrat Julia Hollett, who yesterday put out a press release opposing the Greens “agenda to introduce primary school curriculum to teach young children lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex lifestyles”. We can safely assume her preferences will end with Mr Tagliaferri. Then there’s Rosemary Anne Lorrimar, a nurse who blames Mr McGinty for turning her from a private sector employee into a public servant and twice ran for the DLP in the 1960s against Kim Beazley – that’s Beazley Sr. She will be directing preferences to Mr Tagliaferri not the least because the Greens are “more worried about trees and whales than people.” Mr Tagliaferri can also count on pro-development Labor lawyer Steve Boni, a former ALP candidate, for preferences and more than likely will also get Family First’s Andriette DuPlessis’s preferences.

Ms Carles can count on preferences from Sam Wainwright, a wharfie and member of the Socialist Alliance Party whose main platform is that Australia should be 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy by 2020. Ubiquitous Fremantle campaigner Jan Ter Horst should also put a few votes Ms Carles’ way as should Liberal, now independent, Carmelo Zagami. Sketch isn’t quite sure which way the Citizens’ Electoral Council’s Rob Totten will send his preferences but given that he holds a diploma in homepathic ionic therapy, we’re guessing Green.

Taylor concludes that Labor is most likely just “guarding against complacency” with its talk of possible defeat, as “there’s no unpopular Labor government and more importantly no Liberal Party candidate”. A report on last night’s ABC Television news focusing on the nomination of Carmelo Zagami can be viewed online. Gasp in awe at the dashing fellow with the clipboard standing behind Peter Tagliaferri at the ballot paper draw. Here’s a letter from Tagliaferri seeking assistance from Labor members well outside the electorate, passed on to the Poll Bludger by a top-level party insider.

Friday, April 17

District returning officer Tracey Elliott takes care of business

Full list of candidates in ballot paper order, as drawn today at the Electoral Commission’s Spearwood office (to be updated with biographical details as they come to hand):

Nik Varga (Independent).

Rob Totten (Citizens Electoral Council).

Jan ter Horst (Independent). Ter Horst has been making himself known locally with claims of council corruption, which he has publicised by daubing slogans on his house and driving a car with a coffin on top. He has been in long-running dispute with the council over a neighbouring strata development which has blocked his ocean views.

Carmelo Zagami (Independent). The manager of the Fremantle United soccer club, Zagami polled 35.9 per cent as the Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Fremantle in 2004. The ABC reports he is running “to give Fremantle voters a chance to vote for a conservative candidate”, and plans to direct his preferences to the Greens.

Steve Boni (Independent). Described by Robert Taylor of The West Australian as a “pro-development Labor lawyer”, Boni was Labor’s candidate for Roe (which has since been superseded by Eyre) at the 2001 election, running fourth with 16.2 per cent of the vote.

Andriette du Plessis (Family First).

Peter Tagliaferri (Labor). Tagliaferri is a member of a prominent local Italian family, and assumed ownership of its Interfoods cafe in 1983. In that year he became at 23 the youngest person ever elected to local government in Western Australia when he was elected to East ward on Fremantle City Council. He ran as an independent in the 1990 by-election that brought Jim McGinty to the seat, polling 3.6 per cent. In 2001 he was elected mayor, defeating incumbent Richard Utting, and was re-elected in 2005 with 62 per cent of the vote.

Julie Hollett (Christian Democratic Party). Robert Taylor of The West Australian reports Hollett put out a press release on the day nominations closed opposing the Greens’ “agenda to introduce primary school curriculum to teach young children lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex lifestyles”. The CDP put the Greens last at the state election in all but a few seats where it didn’t direct preferences, with the interesting exception of Willagee where Alan Carpenter did the honours.

Rosemary-Anne Lorrimar (Independent). Robert Taylor of The West Australian reports Lorrimar is “a nurse who blames Mr McGinty for turning her from a private sector employee into a public servant”, and that she “will be directing preferences to Mr Tagliaferri not the least because the Greens are ‘more worried about trees and whales than people’.” As Rosemary Taboni, she was a candidate for the Democratic Labor Party three times in the 1970s – against Kim Beazley Sr in 1972, and for the Senate in 1974 and 1975 – and she is presumably also the Rosemary Lorrimar who for the Christian Democratic Party in Willagee in 2005.

Adele Carles (Greens). Carles is a 41-year-old lawyer and resident of South Fremantle. She came to local prominence first as part of the Save South Beach campaign, which opposed a housing development within contentiously close range of the beach’s dunes, and later when she launched a legal challenge against the state government’s plans to dig up a former lead smelter site in South Fremantle. Carles polled 5.8 per cent as an independent running in opposition to the South Beach development in 2005, and surprised most observers by scoring 27.6 per cent when nominated by the Greens in 2008 – more than 10 per cent higher than former MPs Ian Alexander and Jim Scott had achieved in 2001 and 2005, and 6.0 per cent higher than the combined vote of Carles and Scott in 2005.

Sam Wainwright. Wainwright is the candidate of the unregistered Socialist Alliance, for which he ran officially as federal candidate for Fremantle in 2007 and unofficially in the state upper house region of South Metropolitan in 2005. The Green Left Weekly describes him as “a wharfie, member of the Maritime Union of Australia and activist in the Fremantle Community Solidarity group”.

Thursday, April 16

Only one more shopping day to go before the closure of nominations and ballot paper draw. Considerable media attention has been given this week to Peter Tagliaferri’s determination to stay on as mayor until his term expires in October. Deputy mayor John Dowson is quoted by the Fremantle Cockburn Gazette saying he should stand down if elected, while Amanda Banks of The West Australian relates that Tagliaferri’s predecessor as mayor, Richard Utting, has joined Adele Carles in calling on him to stand down during the by-election campaign. The issue also got a run on last night’s ABC television news. Today’s West features a lengthy opinion piece on the by-election by Paul Murray – a link will hopefully be forthcoming.

Sunday, April 12

The Western Patriot, a feisty new Perth news and opinion site published by former Labor staffers John Theodorsen and Nathan Hondros, identifies a “sleeper” local issue:

12,000 people signed a petition to save Kel Smith’s Carriage Café on the Fremantle Esplanade. Kel’s café has funneled caffeine to exhausted parents near Fremantle’s best playground for the better part of three decades. Many of Kel’s signatories would not be local, but the famous Freo gossip mill puts the City of Fremantle’s plans to bulldoze the café down to lobbying by Camellia Holdings Pty Ltd, the owner of the Esplanade Hotel. This issue is niggling for locals, many of whom are fond of the owners of this small but vital business.

Friday, April 10

The writ for the by-election was issued yesterday, making official May 16 as polling day. Nominations close at noon next Friday (a day earlier for party candidates), with the ballot paper draw to follow and the roll to close at 6pm that evening. The complete timeline for the by-election can be viewed here.

Brendan Foster of the Fremantle Herald reports:

Both the Greens’ Adele Carles and Labor’s Peter Tagliaferri want rail extended south of Fremantle but Ms Carles wants light rail too, extended throughout the metro area. Mr Tagliaferri says moving the port to Kwinana will cost jobs and he’ll fight it … “In particular we need a rail from Fremantle, through South Beach to Port Coogee&#148 (Carles said). Mr Tagliaferri, born and bred in Fremantle, laughed off suggestions by Ms Carles, a South Freo resident, that he would be too Freo-centric, ignoring the outlying suburbs of the electorate in Cockburn and the fringes of Melville.

Thursday, April 9

The ABC reports the Liberals have decided to sit this one out. Obviously they don’t think they’re travelling so well in Fremantle that they could repeat Labor’s feat in the New South Wales seat of Clarence in 1996, when the Nationals-held seat fell to Bob Carr’s promising young government with a 14.0 per cent swing (the margin in Fremantle is 12.0%) – though admittedly this was achieved with a popular candidate who until recently served the area at federal level. Antony Green has a comprehensive guide to the by-election with more historical detail than you can poke a stick at.

Wednesday, April 8

The ABC reports Colin Barnett saying that “while some in the Liberal Party will be keen to run against Labor, he sees it as a distraction for the Government”. The party will discuss whether to field a candidate tonight. Should they require a primer on the subject, Antony Green has written a comprehensive overview of the pros and cons of running by-election candidates in safe seats.

Tuesday, April 7

Labor’s administration committee has unanimously chosen Peter Tagliaferri as its candidate from a field of three nominees, the other two being the aforementioned Keith McCorriston and local branch member David Hume.

Green Left Weekly says the unregistered Socialist Alliance has announced its candidate will be Sam Wainwright, “a wharfie, member of the Maritime Union of Australia and activist in the Fremantle Community Solidarity group”. Wainwright ran for the Socialist Alliance in the federal seat of Fremantle in 2007 and the upper house region of South Metropolitan at the 2005 state election.

Monday, April 6

The grapevine reports that Keith McCorriston nominated for Labor preselection today, ahead of the closure of nominations at 4pm tomorrow. McCorriston is president of the party’s Fremantle branch and an official with the Maritime Union of Australia, which is obviously influential in the portside electorate – although that probably won’t count for much if as expected the preselection is decided by the party’s administration committee. McCorriston is also said to have backing from “some of the other blue-collar Left unions”, but a decisive-sounding combination of the Right unions and McGinty’s Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union has lined up behind Peter Tagliaferri (the Cockburn City Herald reports McGinty has described Tagliaferri as an “excellent candidate with ministerial potential”). However, one might speculate on the possibility of a union-backed independent spoiler emerging, such as helped deliver the federal seat of Cunningham to the Greens at a by-election in 2002. The West Australian reported this morning that the Liberals are still keeping their options open, with the better part of three weeks to go before nominations close. Greens MLC Giz Watson is encouraging them to enter the fray.

Saturday, April 4

The West Australian reports Peter Tagliaferri has gone back on an earlier threat to stand as an independent if he does not win Labor preselection. Joe Poprzeczny at WA Business News reports there are also rumours surrounding the imminent departure of John Kobelke, whose margin in his northern suburbs seat of Balcatta was slashed from 9.3 per cent to 2.3 per cent at the election. However, the rumour seems to be that the departure is not immediately imminent, but will rather coincide with a change of leadership ahead of the federal election and Alannah MacTiernan’s tilt at the Liberal-held federal seat of Canning, allowing for simultaneous by-elections in Balcatta and MacTiernan’s safe Labor seat of Armadale.

Here is my piece from yesterday’s Crikey Daily Mail:

The lid was officially lifted overnight on the worst-kept secret in Western Australian politics: the resignation of Left faction powerbroker, senior front-bencher and one-time Opposition Leader Jim McGinty. The announcement comes six weeks before the May 16 daylight saving referendum, and has obviously been timed so the resulting by-election can be held on the same day.

While this will limit the backlash that usually occurs when voters are dragged to the polling booths mid-term, Labor is by no means out of jail. Like its federal counterpart, McGinty’s electorate of Fremantle has traditionally been a stronghold for Labor, which has held the seat without interruption since 1924. However, a significant demographic shift in recent decades has seen the port city’s waterside workers and migrant communities make way for an assortment of alternative lifestylers, café dwellers, university students and bong shop proprietors.

While this mixture had long made the electorate a strong source of support for the Greens, few anticipated the strength of their candidate’s performance at last September’s state election. Adele Carles picked up a swing of over 10 per cent on the primary vote, and appeared on track early in the count to overtake the Liberal candidate and defeat McGinty on preferences. Carles ultimately finished in third place 3.4 per cent behind the Liberals, but the result made it clear that Labor could no longer take Fremantle for granted, particularly in the context of a by-election.

The Labor hierarchy has recognised its weakness by courting a non-party member in Peter Tagliaferri, who has been mayor of Fremantle since 2001. This trod on the toes of various union officials, reportedly including McGinty’s successor at the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, Dave Kelly. While Keith McCorriston of the Maritime Union of Australia could recently be heard musing about his options, it appears all but certain that Tagliaferri will be endorsed in coming weeks by the party’s administrative committee. The Greens meanwhile have conducted a pre-emptive preselection which saw Carles win endorsement without opposition.

The Liberals are remaining coy as to whether they will go to the effort of fielding a candidate. While they could reasonably plead that running in a seat with Fremantle’s track record would not be worth the expense, they might care to recall that they cut the margin below five per cent at the 1990 by-election that brought Jim McGinty to the seat. However, the Barnett government hasn’t been making too many friends locally with its plan to allow Magellan Metals to transport lead carbonate through the port, after a similar operation in Esperance was linked to widespread contamination and the deaths of thousands of birds. A more realistic consideration is whether they would harm the Greens by giving them a hurdle to clear for second place, or help them by marshalling the votes of supporters who dutifully follow the how-to-vote card.

The word from the Labor camp is that polling shows local supporters are so angry that last year’s botched early election delivered government to the hated Coalition that they are of a mind to punish the party further with a protest vote. The story goes that Labor are by no means assured of victory over the Greens even with Tagliaferri in their corner, and would be gone for all money without him.

Below is a chart mapping the primary vote in Fremantle going back to 1974, when John Tonkin’s one-term Labor government was defeated by the Charles Court-led Coalition. There have of course been redistributions over this time, but they have had little effect on Fremantle, whose northern and western boundaries have remained defined by the Swan River and the ocean. The one-vote one-value redistribution ahead of the last election slightly weakened Labor by removing working class areas in the electorate’s far south and increasing the potency of Greens support around the city centre, but even this only reduced Labor from 44.9 per cent to 43.8 per cent and boosted the Greens from 15.8 per cent to 17.1 per cent (as calculated by Antony Green). Labor’s slump in 1989 resulted from the independent candidacy of John Troy, who held the seat from 1977 to 1980 when he was rolled for preselection by David Parker (no doubt explaining the slight dip in Labor’s vote in 1980). The Labor primary vote fell further at the 1990 by-election held when Parker made way for Jim McGinty after the WA Inc catastrophe cost him the deputy premiership. Among the Melbourne Cup field on that occasion was one Pietro Tagliaferri, who polled 645 votes (3.62 per cent) as an independent.


Friday, April 3

The lid has officially been lifted on the worst-kept secret in Western Australian politics: the resignation of Left faction powerbroker, senior front-bencher and one-time Opposition Leader Jim McGinty. This will result in a by-election in the Poll Bludger’s very own electorate of Fremantle. While the timing of the by-election remains at the discretion of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, it can be taken for granted that it will be held in conjunction with the May 16 daylight savings referendum. Fremantle has been in Labor hands since 1924 and is in no danger from the Liberals, but it nonetheless looms as a fascinating contest due to the strong performance at last year’s state election by Greens candidate Adele Carles, who fell 3.4 per cent short of overtaking the Liberals and winning the seat on their preferences. Carles has already been endorsed as the Greens candidate for the by-election, while Labor is considered all but certain to nominate Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri. Much, much more to follow, including a piece in today’s Crikey Daily Mail.

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.

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