WA election minus one day

A tasty collection of electorate-level news morsels ahead of tomorrow’s Western Australian state election.

Some local level campaign news nuggets for your enjoyment, which I’ve used to update my election guide. You will also observe for selected marginal seats that 2008 results maps have been included. I guess I’ll post a more general seats-to-watch style form guide later today, so do stay tuned.

Swan Hills (Liberal 3.5%) and West Swan (Labor 4.1%): With the two seats sharing the rapidly expanding new outer urban centre of Ellenbrook, West Swan and Swan Hills have been ground zero in the debate over public transport. During the 2008 campaign the Liberals matched Labor’s promise to build a spur to Ellenbrook running off the Midland line after Bayswater station, and they have been rueing the fact ever since taking office. With promised first-term spending failing to eventuate, Barnett weakly offered that it was intended as a “second-term project”, only to announce earlier in the campaign that it was being scrapped altogether. The concept’s demise was hastened by a consultants’ report on the future of Perth’s public transport system, which recommended a $61 million rapid transit bus service to Bassendean as a more viable alternative. However, Barnett told a media conference earlier this week that this too had been knocked on the head. A muddle ensued between Barnett and Buswell, with the latter saying money might be committed after design works were completed, and the former claryfing that while there was “work going on”, no further commitments were being made. Barnett offered that locals would sooner have the money spent on the two major roads projects the government would pursue: the so-called “Perth to Darwin Highway”, in fact a 37 kilometre bypass road that promises to take 3000 trucks off the Great Northern Highway, and turning Gnangara Road into a dual carriageway. The former is among the projects where the Liberals have been faulted for relying on federal funding, making their own commitment of $196 million to an $830 million project.

Belmont (Labor 6.7%): One of the most hotly contested points of difference in the campaign has involved the competing concepts for an airport rail link, the chief distinction being the location of the station serving the domestic airport. Labor proposes a site on Tonkin Highway, some distance from the existing terminal – 1.5 kilometres away, by the disputed reckoning of the Liberal Party – which will equally service the suburb of Redcliffe and obviate the need for an expensive tunnel under a runway. This was mocked by the Liberals with radio advertisements mimicking an airport announcer who explained the practical difficulties for travellers requiring a shuttle bus to complete their connection. Labor responded that the domestic airport terminal was scheduled to close in 2020, although The West Australian’s aviation editor Geoffrey Thomas told 6PR that the industry doubted it would happen quite so soon. The Liberals argue that their domestic terminal station would remain of value after its closure by serving the “upmarket business park” that will be built there.

Kimberley (Labor 6.8%): Kimberley is the scene of the flashpoint environmental issue of the campaign, the government’s plan for a $40 billion LNG hub. The proposed location of James Price Point is 40 kilometres north of Broome, where it is a visibly divisive issue. Labor has been broadly supportive without being entirely committed, and there were suggestions early in the campaign that the federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, was holding off a decision on environmental approval until after the election to spare McGowan embarrassment. The issue has opened a gap in the market for the Greens, who are enthusiastically opposed. However, the project is looking increasingly in doubt as project partner Royal Dutch Shell pushes for an offshore “floating LNG” option. In other news, the Nationals have promised to use $125 million in Royalties for Regions funding over five years from a “West Kimberley Revitalisation Plan”, to be spent in various ways in and around Broome and Derby.

Pilbara (Labor 7.2%): An electorate like no other, the mining boom has had Pilbara edging out Nedlands and Cottesloe as the top seat in the state for median outcome. It is also, by some margin, the state’s most male-dominated electorate (61.9% against 58.9% for neighbouring North West, with daylight third), and the one with the highest proportion of renters. The latter has assumed crucial importance with median weekly rent increasing three-fold over five years to $1600 as of June 2012 – the most expensive in the country. Presiding over much of this as Lands Minister has been Brendon Grylls, who has raised eyebrows with the recent frequency of ministerial press releases announcing land releases in the electorate he has chosen to personally target. Labor has sought to capitalise on the issue by promising the establishment of a Pilbara Development Commission with statutory power to address development bottlenecks.

Warren-Blackwood (Nationals 10.2% versus Liberal): There have been suggestions that Nationals member Minister Terry Redman faces a threat from a Labor decision to direct preferences to the Liberals and a campaign against his decision as Agriculture Minister to allow crop trials for genetically modified canola. An unhelpful development for Redman on this score has been a redistribution adding Margaret River to the electorate, where the vote in 2008 divided roughly evenly between Liberal, Labor and the Greens. Mark McGowan says Labor will do “anything we can do to stop the rollout”, although this turned out not to mean reinstating the ban.

Albany (Labor 0.2%): The biggest ticket local issue in Labor’s most marginal seat is a scheme to link Albany to the state’s natural gas network through a pipeline to Bunbury. After promising a $450 million project during the 2008 campaign, the government is only delivering a $135 million option that will carry 12 terajoules per day rather than the promised 50. Labor’s position is that the project should be left to the private sector, with the money spent instead on roads and schools.

Riverton (Liberal 2.0%): The Liberals went into the 2008 election promising $166 million would be spent on extending the Roe Highway through Bibra Lake to Stock Road south of Fremantle, thereby filling the last missing link in what was envisioned a metropolitan ring road. However, as the end of the term came into view the project remained under consideration by the Environmental Protection Authority. While the project involves enormously contentious construction through the Beeliar wetlands, which caused the previous Labor government to abandon the project on environmental grounds, it would be of value to the marginal Liberal seat of Riverton further north by reducing heavy traffic on Leach Highway. Labor has included a dividend from scrapping the project in its savings measures for Metronet.

Central Wheatbelt (Nationals 18.8% versus Liberal): The government’s reluctance to keep open the unprofitable “tier 3” rail freight lines is a source of considerable local anger, as it promises to increase road train traffic on the Wheatbelt’s threadbare road network. Whereas Labor has promised $30 million over three years to keep the service open, the Liberals have so far offered only committed to a year’s extension upon the expiry of the operator’s lease, which will take it through to October. Beyond that the government would “decide, in consultation with industry and farmers, which Tier 3 lines are viable and could remain open”. The Nationals’ compliance with this position was described as “inexcusable” by Hendy Cowan, leader of the party from 1985 to 2001, who said he intended to vote for his brother Bill, the number three candidate on the independent Max Trenorden/Philip Gardiner upper house ticket for Agricultural region.

Geraldton (Liberal 8.5%): As part of its Metronet savings, Labor said it would scrap the $339 million the Barnett government committed to the Oakajee port and rail project 25 kilometres north of Geraldton, on the basis that the project should proceed on a private footing. Their readiness to do so might be read as an implicit acknowledgement that Labor is no longer competitive in the seat. The government received a blow when the project’s owners, Mitsubishi, announced in December it would be indefinitely delayed, although Barnett says he is hopeful it can proceed if Chinese investors can be brought in.

Collie-Preston (Labor 3.8%): On January 17, Labor promised to spend $18 million of Royalties for Regions funds on fixing black spots on the Coalfields Highway that connects the South Western Highway and Albany Highway via Collie. The Liberals responded on February 13 with a promise to spend $22 million over three years. The Liberals have promised to have Wellington Dam, located about 10 kilometres from Collie, de-proclaimed as a drinking water source, opened to recreational activities and restocked with fish.

Joondalup (Labor 3.3%): Labor made an early campaign promise of $9 million for new facilities at Joondalup Arena for the benefit of WAFL club West Perth, which relocated to the northern suburbs in 1994. The Liberals then trumped this with a $20 million promise that also included facilities for basketball and rugby.

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.

37 comments on “WA election minus one day”

  1. We’d all predict a Barnett win, and an uneventful final few days favours the incumbent.

    Will watch tomorrow evening with interest though.

  2. This weekend’s Perth Voice is surprisingly light on the political ads. Main stories: no more Eid (end of Ramadan) festival in Kings Park due to it growing too big for where it had been, and Coles / First Choice doesn’t get to open up a booze supermarket on a derelict patch of Guildford Rd in Maylands. (That helps Lisa Baker be the only pollie with a photo on the front page.) The back page is just the usual real estate ads, not a full-page “John Hyde will scrap every good thing in the city” attack ad like last week (although I did get that generic molten-plastic-WA picture in the letterbox yesterday). The Libs have figured out they won’t be winning Perth, then. 🙂

  3. [ That helps Lisa Baker be the only pollie with a photo on the front page. ]

    Well, apart from the usual Hyde and Evangel promo pictures (Hyde’s bigger than Evangel’s). I must be getting too used to seeing them, I didn’t even notice them at first glance. Evangel’s little pic is up top, opposite Stones Pizza’s “we give oral pleasure” advert. Don’t ya love free local papers?

  4. I’ve never actually seen a Bob Kucera ad in the Voice, now that I think of it. Sutherland has one every week, and it’s a decent sized photo of him with Barnett this week. (I’d’ve loved it if the slogans had been replaced by an spiel for Advanced Dental Repair as this week’s fake ad, but it’s all fairly boring.)

  5. McGowan’s bus today is going to Joondalup, Balcatta, Morley and you guessed it Mt Lawley. 2seats to hold 2seats to win. Are all the swingers in the northern suburbs ?

  6. whatever happened to whoever wins Bunbury wins the election. Do we have a new bellwether seat William or is it the northern suburbs generally

  7. Know nothing about WA politics these days. Knew Charlie Court ( and his son) quite well. He seems – in retrospect – a towering figure compared with todays mob, on either side.

  8. Kevin Rennie @8 – and Megan Gale might call me up and ask me out on a date.

    I also have a ticket in the US $150 mill powerball – gotta be in it to win it.

  9. I wonder how Eric Ripper is feeling?

    McGowan is going to oversee the Liberals move from a minority government to ruling in their own right and possibly controlling the Council as well. Good thing the ALP put him in charge over Eric.

    Bob’s Back!

    Vote early – vote often!

  10. I know little about the WA election, and nothing about “The Ellenbrook Express”, but it looked funny to me. So, I suspect, it probably made a few in the know giggle.

  11. 15
    Last election Barnett promised an Ellenbrook rail link then went back on it, then a proposal was made for a high speed bus link to Ellenbrook from Bassendean train station called the Ellenbrook Express, but now Barnett says they won’t even fund that.

  12. Labor expectations are so low they could lose 10 seats and still describe the result as closet than expected.

  13. The penny’s dropped as to why the Greens are preferencing the Liberals ahead of Labor in North West Central and Warren-Blackwood: they both want the Liberals to finish ahead of Labor, whose decision to put the Liberals ahead of the Nationals will only mean anything if the Liberals knock them out. That helps each take a swing at a Nationals MP they would like to get at – Redman in the Greens’ case because of GM, and Catania in Labor’s because of a) the obvious reason, and b) they think a Liberal would be easier to beat in 2017.

  14. I thought the correct ALP terminolgy was Dog, not Rat, but I’m not an ALP or Union Member.

    Bob’s Back!

  15. I am deeply dissappointed in both the Coalition and the ALP for not putting the Greens last on all HTV cards.

    Apart from Mt Lawley, the most interesting outcome will be Pilbara – if it comes off for Grylls he will be well justified in rubbing a few noses in it.

    Did I mention Bob’s Back?

  16. [I thought the correct ALP terminolgy was Dog, not Rat, but I’m not an ALP or Union Member.]

    We can tell. Catania was never a real one either.

  17. Vince Catania only cares about Vince Catania…a talentless hack who would’ve got nowhere in life without his family name.

  18. [Vince Catania only cares about Vince Catania…a talentless hack who would’ve got nowhere in life without his family name.]

    Yeah but his kind seem to be the type that State Executive give preselection to.

  19. The Liberals paid for a wrap-around ‘front page’ for today’s Albany Extra to promote their recent announcements in Watson’s seat.

    People I speak to think Coshie will win the seat. Personally I think that would be a waste. He is by all accounts a cardboard cut-out Liberal local businessman who has no stated aims or goals for the town. Watson has been a good local member from what I hear.

  20. I conducted a poll today amongst family, friends, etc.:

    People polled: 19

    Intend to vote Labor: 9
    Intend to vote Greens: 3
    Intend to vote Liberal: 4
    Intend to vote Nationals: 0
    Intend to vote Others: 0
    Not going to vote at all: 3

    So there you have it – a Labor landslide 😉 😆

  21. Out here in Swan Hills, Frank Alban’s campaign seems to be spending far more than his opponent Ian Radisich. Mr Alban’s grinning countenance is everywhere on large posters and it seems that not a day goes by without at least one and often two or three direct mailshots turning up in my mailbox. By contrast, Ian Radisich appears on only a couple of rather small billboards and, I think, we’ve had maybe two or three mailshots since the election was called.

    I shall be interested to see, though, whether Ian shows any sign of a personal/family vote as his late sister was, as far as I’m aware, a popular local member.

  22. Newspoll WA March 4-7 2013 – 1744 Voters

    Two Party Preferred: LIB 59.5 (+2.5) ALP 40.5 (-2.5)

    Primary Votes: LIB 48 (+3) NAT 6 (0) ALP 32 (-3) GRN 8 (0)
    Primary Votes (Perth): LIB 50 ALP 35 GRN 8
    Primary Votes (Rest of WA): LIB 44 NAT 22 ALP 24 GRN 7

    Barnett LIB: Approve 51 (+4) Disapprove 36 (-6)
    McGowan ALP: Approve 49 (-2) Disapprove 29 (+3)
    Preferred Premier: Barnett 52 (+8) McGowan 31 (-9)

    Which party will win: LIB 70 (+11) ALP 15 (-10)

  23. Confessions @29 – having been to his Dome franchise in Albany we rate it the best Dome in WA. If he can match that as an MHR he’ll be doing very well.

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