Seat of the week: Fremantle

There have been suggestions that the electorate of John Curtin might be lost to Labor at the next election as part of a statewide conservative sweep, although they have faded with Labor’s recent improvement in the polls.

The electorate of Fremantle covers Perth’s coastal southern suburbs from North Fremantle south to Henderson. It extends only a short distance eastwards along the southern bank of the Swan River to Bicton, Liberal-voting riverfront territory beyond being accommodated by Tangney, while going deep inland as far as Jandakot and Banjup further to the south. Liberal support is strongest along the riverfront, in the Jandakot/Banjup area, and in recently developed Port Coogee south of the city. The Greens polled between 25% and 30% in the Fremantle city booths in 2010, reflecting a strength of support that allowed Adele Carles to win the state seat for the party at a by-election in April 2009. However, their competitiveness in the federal seat is curtailed by the more traditionally working-class complexion of the suburbs further south.

The electorate of Fremantle has existed in name since federation, with the entirety of the Perth metropolitan area being divided between it and Perth until parliament was expanded in 1949. Only then did the port city and its surrounds sufficiently dominate the seat to allow Labor to secure its hold. John Curtin became the member in 1928 after unseating independent incumbent William Watson, who recovered it at the 1931 election as the candidate of the United Australia Party. Curtin was back for the long haul in 1934 and succeeded Jim Scullin as Labor leader the following year, although he survived in Fremantle by only 641 votes at the 1940 election.

After leading the country through the sharp end of the war years, Curtin became only the second prime minister to die in office in July 1945. Fremantle was retained for Labor at the ensuing by-election by Kim Beazley Senior and remained a home for high-profile Labor figures thereafter: Keating government Treasurer John Dawkins succeeded Beazley upon his retirement in 1977, and former Premier Carmen Lawrence in turn assumed the seat when Dawkins quit in 1994. Fremantle was the only WA seat left standing for Labor after the twin disasters of 1975 and 1977, but it was overtaken by Perth as Labor’s strongest seat in WA at the 2010 election, by which time the statewide tide to the Liberals had worn the margin in Fremantle down to 5.7%.

Fremantle has been held since Carmen Lawrence’s retirement in 2007 by Melissa Parke, a former United Nations human rights lawyer factionally aligned with the Left. Parke has thus far been overlooked for promotion, but made headlines over the past term after criticising the government’s “Malaysia solution” and decision to resume live cattle exports to Indonesia. As one report put it, Parke was “widely believed” to have voted for Kevin Rudd when he challenged for the leadership in February 2012.

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.

830 comments on “Seat of the week: Fremantle”

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  1. I know this sounds harsh, but I am sick of seeing Yanks standing around “searching for answers” on gun violence in that country. As a nation, they brought it on themselves.

    They are dominated by a gun lobby that seems to be all-powerful.

    And it’s starting to happen here too, with the Shooters Party exercising their muscle in the NSW Legislative Council.

    I was speaking to an old friend of mine this morning. She’s in Palo Alto, CA. Her son is a gun freak. She didn’t bring him up to be that way, but doesn’t think it’s right for her to “mother” him any more (he’s in his late 20s).

    He hunts, and tells her that it’s hypocritical for anyone to eat abbatoir meat if they’re not prepared to kill their own food. Sounds like an NRA “line” to me.

    Abother friend of mine has just come back from visiting his cousin in Texas. He’s just retired from the AFP, and they’re all Deputy Sheriffs in Houston.

    Their life is guns. They carry them with them in their cars, to the office, in supermarkets, to church. One even has a gun rack in his baby’s pram, “just in case”.

    Two of them have been shot in the line of duty, and one of them has killed a man, also in the line of duty.

    Firing the gun wasn’t as easy as talking about firing it. But eventually he pulled the trigger and immediately collapsed from shock. It took him six weeks’ trauma counseling to get over it.

    To celebrate finishing his therapy he went out an bought the biggest shotgun he could find, and a 45 automatic (nickel plated) for his wife. He owns forty guns.

    One is his “Obama Gun. It’s a big, black bolt-action hunting rifle that he (I hope) “jokes” is to use on Obama if he ever comes within 1 mile of him on a clear day.

    I’ve seen the photos. My old friend’s hunting son, and my other friend’s law enforcing cousins look like “decent, ordinary people”, except they’re obsessed with guns.

    Joining the NRA is a mandatory aspect of their lives, as is spreading the NRA “word”.

    If either of these people had been in that school I doubt whether they’d have gotten one shot off before either being killed themselves or hiding under a desk.

    In over two hundred massacres like yesterday’s, not one shooter has been “taken out” by a public-spirited, gun-toting citizen. It happens too fast, especially if automatics are used.

    They say “an armed society is a polite society” with a nudge and a wink. I doubt whether they’d be so self assured if it happened to them.

    What a sick place. They brought it on themselves. For certain, anyone who votes Republican can suck eggs on guns as far as I’m concerned. The Democrats aren’t far behind.

  2. [Slav G
    Posted Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm | PERMALINK
    I missed last nights discussions on this Mod Lib. Could you let me know how many surpluses were delivered by the Libs in the last 50 years? Also if you could do this for me (me being new to this country), can you list some of the best reforms that were introduced to Australia by the Libs in the last 50 years, Mod lib? Just something on top of your head.]

    Welcome to Australia Slav G.

    12.

    Welcoming Vietnamese refugees
    GST
    Gun control
    Paying off government debt
    Financial services regulations
    plus
    Workplace relations reforms to chip away at Unionists running the country

  3. ModLib

    that’s a seriously sad list.

    In government for such a decent chunk of time, in their past three years with full control of both Houses, and that’s all??

  4. How about we take a turn each at being the Big Cheese while William is on holidays? We can draw lots for it, one for each 24 hour period. 😀

  5. [I say spit it out….don’t worry about the bullies!

    I, for one, would be very interested to hear what you think.

    At least you do….”think” that is …… unlike many others here who just read out the media statements provided from HQ.]

    Well, I describe my philosophy as critical liberal republican (notice the lack of capitals) and adamantly opposed to reactionaries and blind populists… you can see where the conflict is…

  6. [Puff, the Magic Dragon.
    Posted Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:15 pm | PERMALINK
    How about we take a turn each at being the Big Cheese while William is on holidays? We can draw lots for it, one for each 24 hour period]

    Just let me know when its your 24 hour turn Puff 🙂

  7. WA Labor left the State with a huge surplus.

    Within less than 18 months Barnett and his Liberal brigands inflicted it with a two billion dollar debt.

    Get off the sauce Mod Lib.

  8. Mod Lib@736


    that you can’t answer the question you demand of Labor voters


    What question?

    I was merely stating a fact: the ALP have delivered 4 surplus budgets in the last 50yrs

    There was no question.

    I still have that question for Mod Lib from when he was raving about the desirability for, or the rather the deification of, surplus budgets.

    Why?

  9. Grocery watch (tick)
    Fuel watch (tick)
    Computers in schools (tick)
    Pink batts (tick)
    Said sorry (tick)
    Cash for clunkers (tick)
    Weakened borders (tick)
    Said sorry (tick)
    School halls (tick)
    Trades training centres (tick)
    Carbon Tax (tick)
    Knife Kevin (tick)

  10. [I still have that question for Mod Lib from when he was raving about the desirability for, or the rather the deification of, surplus budgets.

    Why?]

    Can you provide that post and then I am happy to respond.

    I have no memory of this “raving about the desirability for…” stuff.

  11. Should add that the SA Libs left the state in such an economic mess last time they were in as well. Sadly, they will probably be rewarded with government in 2014. The reason? Perceived economic superiority (nevermind that the government in the last 10 years has done more for economic growth in this state since at least Playford…)

  12. Mod Lib@743


    Just reminding them that the ALP has only delivered 4 surplus budgets in 50 years.

    I saw a well argued piece somewhere that said this was the nature of things. The right often (but not always) squirrels money and the left often (but not always) spends it. When the economy is dodgy, especially, the voters are likely to disapprove of squirreling and put the left in power so it will spend money looking after them and cushioning the impacts. When the crisis passes and too much debt has built up the voters become more likely to put the right back in. Not sure how empirically validated it is.

    The piece that argued this was doing it as an exercise in left-bashing, claiming that the left wastes all the right’s hard work, but I think it can also be used as an argument for both sides having strengths and weaknesses, and an argument for why Howard’s “Go For Growth” stuff in 2007 was completely out of touch, although he would have lost anyway.

  13. Mod Lib@757


    A lot of time is spent cleaning up the mess left by the ALP governments spending money we dont have.

    That is just an idiotic statement.
    You clearly have no comprehension of basic economics and the role of government in managing an economy.

    If you want to talk about messes left behind, how about the appalling one left behind by Fraser and his ‘genius’ treasurer.

    And paying off debt by selling assets is hardly a great achievement.

  14. Was chatting with another mate tonight.

    He works at Colin, Biggers & Paisley and I went to St. Pat’s Strathfield.

    Between them CB&P and St. Pats have a star studded lineup at the ICAC inquiry into Eddie Obeid.

    The Obeid boys went to St. Pats, as did Nick Di Girolamo, who is also a former partner at CB&P and also associated with Australian Water Holdings, a company that has a decidedly advantageous contract with Sydney Water, in a deal arranged by Michael Costa, wo recently became and then resigned as Sydney Water Holdings Chairman.

    One of the Obeid family lawyers is Chris Rumore, also from CB&P and also an old boy of St. Pats. Greg Skehan, yet another CB&P lawyer acted, according to this SMH story “as a front for the family in a coal company that won an exploration licence.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/costa-obeid-and-the-water-firm-20121214-2bf8e.html#ixzz2FDUi9ep6

    Between us, my mate and I know a lot of the players at the ICAC hearing. I was one class behind Rumore at St. Pat’s and knew him quite well, as he lived in Strathfield, as I did, and as did

    [“another shareholder… Joseph Georges, a Strathfield real estate agent who has elsewhere acted as a front for the Obeids, disguising the Obeids’ interest in the Elizabeth Bay Marina. Mr Georges declined to say whether his investment in Australian Water was on behalf of the Obeids: “I will keep you guys guessing.”]

    It’s a very small world, between CB&P, St Pat’s and the suburb of Strathfield.

    So, with all this local business, old school chums and neighbours stuff: what was Arthur Sinodinos doing at Sydney Water Holdings?

    [Three years later, in November last year, Mr Costa was appointed chairman of AWH, replacing Liberal Party heavyweight Arthur Sinodinos, and issued with 6,250,000 shares, or 5 per cent of the company.]

    Where does Arthur fit in?

    Oh, and did I forget to say that Counsel Assisting the inquiry is Geoffrey Watson, QC, also a St. Pat’s alumni, as are (for the record only) Craig Emmerson, Tony Bourke, Laurie Ferguson and Martin Ferguson.

    Arthur Sindinos is almost the odd man out… unless he went to St. Pat’s too.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/costa-obeid-and-the-water-firm-20121214-2bf8e.html#ixzz2FDVTy4T4

  15. Mod Lib@758


    Puff, the Magic Dragon.
    Posted Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:15 pm | PERMALINK
    How about we take a turn each at being the Big Cheese while William is on holidays? We can draw lots for it, one for each 24 hour period


    Just let me know when its your 24 hour turn Puff

    You will know. You will hear the dungeon door slamming behind you.

  16. Sorry “Sydney Water Holdings” in post #770 should read “Australian Water Holdings”.

    “Sydney Water” is the old “Water Board”, main supplier of water for Sydney.

  17. Which remind me, I have not checked the Dragon Cave dungeons for a while. Did I leave any Liberals in there from the last time? I thought I let them all go…eventually. 👿

  18. Fulvio,

    I decree that’s a wise move. One has to approach such situations with care, and much planning.

    +++

    This is: Good night, Bludgers.

  19. bemused@768


    If you want to talk about messes left behind, how about the appalling one left behind by Fraser and his ‘genius’ treasurer.

    Indeed. When I see details of some of the figures near the end of Fraser’s tenure, I’m still astonished how anyone could manage to screw up so many different indicators so badly at the same time. Amazing effort!

  20. Mod Lib
    There is no escape. You get tied up with a pile of banknotes just out of reach. Every now and again I come in and burn one.

  21. [Puff, the Magic Dragon.
    Posted Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:43 pm | PERMALINK
    Mod Lib.
    I forgot to add, they will be your banknotes]

    One rarely works with cash.

    One is modern.

  22. [GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes
    #Nielsen Poll 2 Party Preferred: ALP 48 (+1) L/NP 52 (-1)]

    Grrr! This is probably the last federal poll of the year, so we cannot determine whether it’s a rogue or whatever! 😆

  23. ModLib

    In their last three years of government, the Libs had majorities in both Houses and a booming economy.

    What did they achieve in that time?

    In the last two years, Labor has had a minority in the HoR and the Senate and a world economy which is shaky (to say the least).

    They’ve got the NBN going (that in itself is huge), are trialling the NDIS, introduced a carbon price, reformed dental health, built some serious infrastructure, and are now looking to put the budget back in surplus. (and see the other BISONs).

    Your Liberal party is closer to Abbott’s than you’d like to admit – it’s all about what they aspire to do, one day, if they ever really could, but never actually get around to delivering…

    No excuses, ModLib. Labor has achieved more in five years, without ever holding a majority in both Houses, than Howard did in all his time in office.

    And all Abbott is really promising is to undo it all.

  24. [The Age says the disapproval rate for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has risen three points to 63 per cent, which is the second-highest for an opposition leader in the poll’s 40-year history.]

  25. Mod Lib@786


    Puff, the Magic Dragon.
    Posted Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:43 pm | PERMALINK
    Mod Lib.
    I forgot to add, they will be your banknotes


    One rarely works with cash.

    One is modern.

    Ok, I can do modern. I am a Magic Dragon, remember. I probably do not even need an internet connection.

  26. [Carey,

    If the trend is 54-46, 52-48 is a pretty bland rogue]

    I know. I didn’t mean to imply things were 52-48 again but, rather, that they were swinging back to the govt (which I don’t believe btw)

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