WA state redistribution: part the first

A detailed look at what the parties propose for the Western Australian state redistribution.

I wouldn’t normally do a post for an event as minor as the publication of suggestions for a state redistribution, but Greens operative Grahame Bowland has made it worth our while in the case of the present Western Australian redistribution by mapping out the boundaries proposed by the Liberals and the Greens. This has made it a fairly simple matter for me to calculate notional margins based on their suggestions, so we can have a better idea of what the Liberals in particular are trying to achieve. Much as I’d like to be even-handed by scrutinising a detailed Labor proposal, its submission does not provide one.

The basic thesis of the Liberal submission is that the commissioners should push the 10% tolerance to its limits to avoid abolishing any existing electorates, despite dramatic population changes which have caused outer suburban electorates to be well over average enrolment. By contrast, Labor and the Greens propose the more obvious approach of abolishing a country electorate and creating a new metropolitan one. The biggest change proposed by the Liberals is for the waning wheatbelt electorates of Central Wheatbelt and Wagin to be brought up to quota by drawing the latter into Collie, so that the Collie-Preston electorate would become merely Preston. Collie-Preston is a highly marginal seat, held for Labor by locally popular Mick Murray on the slenderest possible margin, because it balances the hugely pro-Labor coal-mining town of Collie against conservative dairy farming surrounds. Excising Collie in the manner proposed would give Preston a Liberal margin approaching 10% on the 2013 results (remembering Labor’s statewide two-party vote was only 42.7%), without making Labor competitive in Wagin.

In the metropolitan area, the Liberals would have their margins boosted from 0.9% to 2.3% in Belmont by extending it northwards to Guildford and Helena Valley; from 2.1% to 3.8% in Forrestfield by chopping Labor turf at Maddington and Kenwick at the southern end, and adding friendlier territory around Gooseberry Hill in the north-east; from 8.1% to around 11% in Jandakot (which despite the present margin was notionally Labor on its creation at the 2008 election) by trading old suburbs at the northern end (Bull Creek and South Lake) for new ones in the south (Hammond Park and Anketell); from 4.5% to 8.5% in Joondalup, by sending Labor-leaning Craigie at the southern end to safe Liberal Hillarys, and adding Liberal-voting coastal territory around Mullaloo from Ocean Reef, which would have a much reduced but still double-digit Liberal margin; and from 4.7% to 6.4% in Morley, by adding Dianella from Mirrabooka. Midland, which Labor retained by a hair’s breadth in 2013, would acquire a notional Liberal margin of 2.2% by gaining Darlington from Kalamunda.

The submission of a detailed proposal by the Greens either reflects their growing confidence about their lower house prospects generally, or the fact that the party attracts wonkish activists who do this sort of thing for fun. Whatever the explanation, the submission proposes the abolition of Eyre in the state’s south-east and the creation of a new seat of Carramar, which would take over areas of the outer northern suburbs from Wanneroo and Butler, and by my reckoning would have a notional Liberal margin of 6.3%. It is proposed that the Greens’ favoured target seat of Fremantle would extend north of the river to take in North Fremantle, offering them the indirect advantage of subduing Labor’s primary vote.

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.

4 comments on “WA state redistribution: part the first”

  1. Nice map Grahame Bowland if you’re reading this.

    The basic thesis of the Liberal submission is that the commissioners should push the 10% tolerance to its limits to avoid abolishing any existing electorates

    And with that, I immediately turned off the map’s layer for the Liberal proposal.

    The Greens proposal looks sensible. Perth deserves a 43rd seat. (In fact, under this proposal even the abolition of a rural seat is not enough to keep Mandurah and Murray-Wellington creeping into the Perth Metropolitan Region.)

    I like that Kalgoorlie-Boulder would no longer be split.

    North West Central needs a new name; it extends all the way to the NT/SA border.

    Warnbro has a strange shape – I don’t why they’ve chosen to excise the lake.

  2. Awfully convenient how the Liberal proposed boundaries boost the Liberal vote in several marginal seats. And shoving Collie off into Wagin seems nonsensical, no real community of interest considering the areas are polar opposites politically.

  3. Political parties always draw redistribution proposals to favour themselves…I’m not sure why anyone is pretending to be shocked at this. The only reason Labor gets off the hook this time is that they seem to have squibbed making a full proposal.

    “Burying” Collie in a super-safe conservative seat has been a long-running Liberal effort that has so far proved spectacularly unsuccessful. They should really just take the hint there. And their refusal to abolish a rural seat makes a mess of their enrolment figures; the tolerance is pushed to its absolute limit across many seats.

    That apart, while I don’t agree with alot of their proposals, the Liberals suggestions aren’t ridiculous. Bull Creek does fit okay in Riverton, Guildford would be a reasonable addition to Belmont, gaining Dianella is a logical adjustment for Morley (I proposed the same). The fact their proposals help them politically does not, of themselves, necessarily make them “bad”.

  4. By that Green proposal, Wagin* would probably end up over 100,000 sq km, and therefore trigger the LDA hack for “ghost” electors. One of those fiddly things that will complicate the redistribution further.

    (*) Yeah, you can’t name a seat like that after one town… its geographical centre would be Ravensthorpe. It’s even bigger than the pre-2008 seat of Roe.

    The Greens’ idea for Warren-Blackwood is also pretty helpful to them: there’s more Green voters north of Margaret River than in Boyup Brook. They already got ahead of Labor in 2013, and Terry Redman only got about 20% primary vote the first time he was elected. They can dream.

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