WA election: Legislative Council guide

Ahead of Saturday’s state election, a guide to the six regions constituting Western Australia’s Legislative Council.

I’ve posted a Legislative Council guide for Saturday’s Western Australian election, featuring an overview and reviews of its six six-member regions. To whet your appetite, here’s a few paragraphs which I felt might interest a broader readership than the one it will get at the tail end of my overview:

The electoral reforms which took effect in 2008 were achieved (by the previous Labor government) with the support of the Greens and Alan Cadby, a Liberal member who had quit the party after being defeated for preselection. However, the former’s counter-intuitive insistence on maintaining rural vote weighting in the upper house produced a system which Labor’s outgoing president of the Legislative Council, Nick Griffiths, said would guarantee conservative majorities “short of a Labor landslide”. Whereas the existing formulation of regional vote weighting had been quite hard enough on the left, odd numbers of members at least meant Labor could hope for majority “left” results in the metropolitan regions plus Mining & Pastoral, collectively outweighing their disadvantage in Agricultural and South West. However, the norm now will be for even left-right splits in the stronger regions for Labor, with Agricultural having an entrenched right majority.

The challenging new environment faced by the left was underscored by the 2008 election result. The metropolitan area produced left-right parity with results of three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens in each of the three regions, to which the Liberals and Nationals added 12 non-metropolitan seats against just six for Labor and the Greens. This put the Nationals in a clear balance-of-power position and marginalised the Greens. Among the consequences was a weakened position for Labor as it sought to persuade the Nationals to maintain it in government after the election, as only an alliance with the Liberals would be guaranteed to deliver on any agreements reached in the upper house.

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.

6 comments on “WA election: Legislative Council guide”

  1. A 4*9 upper house (N/S/E Metro, and a combined rest-of-WA region) could be interesting. 2008 would’ve probably produced something like so:

    5-3-1 to the Libs in North Metro
    4-4-1 in E and S Metro (with a vague chance of the CDP pinching a Lib seat in East Metro)

    The country region would be a funny one… probably something like 3 Lib, 3 ALP, 2 Nat, 1 FF.

    All up, the result would be 19 Lib/Nat/FF to 17 ALP/Grn. Parallel-universe Dan Sullivan would’ve found himself very important, and the Nats would kick and squeal.

    A less drastic change could be to move Albany from South West to Agricultural. It’d even up their sizes a bit, and give Labor a good chance of getting a second seat in Ag instead of Nat #3 (although it’d also make it harder for them to win a third seat in South West in a good year, or for the Greens to get one).

  2. William,

    I am a little surprised by your Legislative Council Guide. In North Metro, South Metro, Agriculture and Mining and Pastoral you mention candidates from all registered parties with the sole exception of the Australian Christians (AC) formerly CDP. In East Metro again all registered parties are mentioned except AC although you erroneously have Georgiou listed as FFP rather than SFP.

    In Southwest all registered parties are mentioned except SF and AC.

    I can understand not having a complete list of single independents but considering the CDP achieved almost similar results in the LC in 2008 as did FFP, the rebranded AC would have to be in the mix in some regions.

  3. FF are probably going to have a little collapse in SW and Ag regions, as they had “celebrity” candidates in 2008 – Anthony Fels and Dan Sullivan. They got about 15% in the Eaton booths in Collie-Preston, quite likely thanks to Sullivan doing a lot of campaigning in the Australind area (where his old seat got abolished).

    The CDP aren’t going to get elected anywhere. (Despite my non-belief in a deity/higher being, I would still thank him/her/it for that fact.) In East Metro they need the Lib vote to go down, which probably won’t be happening. In Ag Region, any other election it’d be a possibility, but there’s only room for one minor candidate and I reckon Max Trenorden has this one sewn up. Tier 3 is a big issue out where the paper and the polls don’t reach.

  4. If Trenorden gets a decent vote he could have a quota in his own right probably taken from the Nationals. That leaves the Nationals with two seats. But wouldn’t that mean the Nationals second seat might be up for grabs as well if Trenorden has divided their vote?

    As you mentioned FF had a high profile candidate last time and they are not contesting lower house seats in the region. That places AC in a position to get FF preferences. To the AC’s advantage, Shooters and Fishers, Trenorden and the Liberals have preferenced AC higher than Nationals. The Nationals have likewise preferenced AC higher than their former member Trenorden and the Liberals. So if there are excess National, Liberal or Trenorden votes they go to AC.

    Antony Green also agrees that the seat could bring up a surprise. He writes that “one of the smaller parties might get up” and suggests it might be the Shooters and Fishers since they are the recipients not only of the smaller party preferences but also the Greens.

    William has added in a few AC candidates to his Legislative Council guide. But in Agricultural where neither the AC nor the SF candidates are mentioned in the guide, it might be a candidate not listed in the guide that gets up for the final seat.

  5. In my previous post, I might have left the impression that I was critical of Wiliam’s efforts. I am not. I appreciate the guide and the work that has gone into it. It is not possible to cover everything.

    It will be useful on election night.

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