Seat du jour: Hasluck

Liberal member Ken Wyatt ended a curse of Hasluck in 2010 when he became the first member to win re-election in the eastern Perth seat, and has since gone on to become the first indigenous person to reach the front bench in a federal government.

Encompassing Perth’s outer eastern suburbs and semi-rural territory in and beyond the Darling Scarp, Hasluck was created at the 2001 election and changed hands at each election subsequently until 2013, when Liberal incumbent Ken Wyatt became its first member to win re-election. The shape of the electorate has been substantially altered in the latest redistribution, since it contributes nearly 40,000 voters to the new seat of Burt at what was formerly its southern end, an area encompassing Thornlie, Gosnells, Huntingdale and Southern River. A further 8000 voters around High Wycombe at the city end of the electorate have been transferred to Swan. The losses have been balanced by a geographically dramatic expansion into more lightly populated territory to the east, centred upon the Great Eastern Highway around Mundaring, which adds 33,000 voters who were formerly in Pearce. The changes have boosted the modest Liberal margin from 4.9% to 6.0%.




The populous western end of Hasluck extends from Midland in the north to middle-income suburbs in and around Kalamunda, and mortgage-sensitive Forrestfield and Maida Vale nearer the city. Labor’s strongest areas are at the northern and southern ends of this area, respectively around Midland and Kenwick. These areas have fairly low average incomes in common, but the latter has a greater preponderance of mortgage-paying young families. Kalamunda and the semi-rural areas further east have an older age profile and are singularly lacking in ethnic diversity, while being home to large numbers of English migrants.

Hasluck was won for Labor on its creation by Sharryn Jackson, who defended a notional Labor margin of 2.6% at the 2001 election against a Liberal swing of 0.6%. Jackson was then evicted by a further 3.6% in 2004, as Perth failed to take a shine to Mark Latham. The seat was then held for the Liberals for a term by Stuart Henry, former executive director of the Western Australian Master Plumbers Association. Jackson resisted urgings by her backers to succeed Kim Beazley in Brand when he retired in 2007, instead preferring another tilt at her old seat. She was duly successful in this endeavour at the 2007 election, picking up a swing of 3.1% to record a gain for Labor in Western Australia that partly balanced its losses in Cowan and Swan. However, she was again unseated in 2010, when her 1.3% margin was accounted for by a 0.4% shift in the redistribution followed by a swing to the Liberals of 1.4%. The Liberal hold on the seat was strengthened with a further swing of 4.3% in 2013.

The member since 2010 has been Ken Wyatt, the first ever self-identifying indigenous member of the House of Representatives. Wyatt was formerly a director of the Office of Aboriginal Health director and is the uncle of Ben Wyatt, an emerging figure on the other side of politics as the state’s Shadow Treasurer. After the September 2015 leadership change he won promotion to parliamentary secretary level as Assistant Health Minister, to which the aged care portfolio was added in February 2016. Wyatt is believed to have supported Malcolm Turnbull in the leadership vote, and had earlier been at odds with the Abbott government over its move to soften racial vilification laws, which had him threatening to cross the floor. His Labor opponent at the coming election is Bill Leadbetter, executive director of an obstetric practice and occasional history academic, who ran in Pearce in 2010.

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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