I have posted a preliminary Perth by-election guide, following today’s very surprising announcement from Tim Hammond that he will shortly resign from the seat he has held since the 2016 election. The guide includes an overview, 2016 election results map, and displays of historical election results and demographic data. The latter illustrates that Perth is, typically for a city centre seat, dominated by people in their twenties and thirties, and is fairly ethnically diverse by Western Australian standards. However, there are marked differences between the city end of the seat, which is both affluent enough to provide a support base for the Liberals and young enough to be strong for the Greens, and its north-eastern reaches around Morley and Bassendean, which are less fashionable and strong for Labor.
Update: May 4
It transpires that Labor’s factional wheels hadn’t finished turning at the time of Wednesday’s media reports indicating the candidate would be Patrick Gorman, the party’s state secretary. There is now a push from the Left to have the position go to Senator Louise Pratt, with Gorman to fill Pratt’s vacancy in the Senate. Andrew Burrell of The Australian reports Pratt’s backers cite her “better inner-city credentials”, but Nathan Hondros of Fairfax also notes that Gorman is “a problematic figure for Mr Shorten and his supporters”. This is because of his revelation in 2015 of a meeting between Shorten and Kevin Rudd ahead of the 2013 leadership change, which forced Shorten to admit to Melbourne radio host Neil Mitchell that he had lied to him about the matter on air.
Furthermore, Hondros’s report suggests the Right, contrary to earlier reports that it would be mollified by faction member Martin Dixon’s ascension from assistant to actual state secretary in Gorman’s place, is less than sanguine about losing Hammond’s seat. The potential Right nominee is Steve Catania, whose father Nick Catania served inner urban electorates in the state parliament from 1989 to 1996, and whose brother Vince Catania is a state Nationals MP, having defected to the party from Labor in 2009.
The Liberals have not committed to fielding a candidate, but Christian Porter told Sky News yesterday that the party would “undoubtedly” do so. I’m aware of two names that have been mentioned as possibilities: Michael Gannon, the president of the Australian Medical Association, and Brent Fleeton, a Bayswater councillor and former staffer to state MP Peter Katsambanis.
There are more of my thoughts on the matter in a paywalled article in Crikey yesterday, the upshot of which is that Labor, while very short-priced favourites to retain the seat, probably won’t win as emphatically as the poll trend from the state suggests.