Perth by-election thread

A preliminary guide to the surprise federal by-election that now looms in the seat of Perth, and a thread for the discussion thereof.

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.

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.

31 comments on “Perth by-election thread”

  1. Shocking announcement by Hammond, a young politician with great potential.
    It’s now essential that Labor offer a very high quality, Social Democratic candidate for the seat, who can easily attract Hammond’s voters and the preferences from the Greens.

  2. Moderate Liberals will not want run in order to continue to say that polls don’t mean anything, and to keep Turnbull. Whereas conservatives will want to run in order to show that the liberals will loose the election with Turnbull. This could turn into a Canning By-election 2.0 and cause the downfall of a siting PM, and could cause Julie Bishop to become PM because the Liberals could have a good shot to win if she was the leader as Bishop is just so popular in WA.

  3. an interesting aside.

    Bob Menzies Press Secretary hailed from WA. The family only saw dad at Christmas. He was an absent father. His legacy was that as adults, his kids had great connections to the small business people in Perth and which was invaluable for opening business opportunities

  4. WAP says:
    Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    ….. could cause Julie Bishop to become PM because the Liberals could have a good shot to win if she was the leader as Bishop is just so popular in WA.

    very funny.

  5. Alpo: “Social Democratic candidate”

    What does this mean? Is it a euphemism for “Labor Left faction”, comparable to the way that Tony Abbott and his pals increasingly like to describe themselves as “centre-right” (begging the question as to what might represent the true “right” of the Liberal Party)?

  6. briefly: “Patrick Gorman would be a formidable candidate. He would be unstoppable.”

    With Labor holding the seat by a 2pp margin of well over 5,000 votes, any Labor candidate better bloody well be unstoppable, or else Labor can kiss its chances of an immediate return to government goodbye.

  7. I volunteered for Tim Hammond’s campaign in 2010 when he run for the seat of Swan. He has been a political operator for over 20 years and he knew exactly what he was getting into. While the reasons he presented for his resignation are legitimate, but I think there are more to it than what meets the eye.

  8. As I have pointed out before, when the trend is against Labor, Perth is far from a ‘safe’ seat. On two occasions Smith had to depend on Green preferences, more so in the second election he contested in the seat rather than Rudd’s victory. A. McT was drafted to save the seat election before last. As William pointed out, the city end of the electorate is not that wonderful for Labor. I remember the up-themselves-young-Liberal supporters in the Queens Hotel in Mt Lawley besides themselves with joy when Howard won an election a few years ago. They are still around.

  9. Perth is far from Safe for Labor considering the high Liberal primary vote, however they should be able to retain it with a good candidate and a high Green preference follow.

  10. Zia: I don’t know, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there’s a considerable difference between knowing, on an intellectual level, what the job involves and the actual lived experience of constant travel to the east coast.

  11. Andrew Burrell at The Oz:

    ANDREW BURRELL
    WA Chief ReporterPerth
    @AndrewBurrell7

    Some of Labor’s most powerful factional chiefs are pushing to install Senator Louise Pratt as the party’s candidate for the looming Perth by-election instead of West Australian state secretary Patrick Gorman.

    Under a proposed deal being hammered out today, Senator Pratt would switch to the House of Representatives and Mr Gorman — a former adviser to Kevin Rudd — would be parachuted into the Senate as her replacement.

  12. If there’s no sort of ulterior motive for Hammond quitting, then I’d honestly be surprised to see the Liberals run. What are they going to latch on to? “Punish Labor for Hammond being a devoted dad”?

    Also, the idea that conservative Liberals would run to damage Turnbull doesn’t make much sense. Governments almost never win by-elections off the Opposition. Even Kevin Rudd at the height of his popularity got his backside handed to him at the Gippsland by-election, and retreated from contesting anything else.

    Finally, while Perth is not a “safe seat” on paper, it was still retained by Labor despite some very poor overall results in WA. If it didn’t fall at the low point in 2013, it seems unlikely to fall now.

  13. According to Christian Porter our great LNP will win the seat of Perth longman Braddon Fremantle Brand and the seat of mayo which will give them a majority of 7

  14. Tricot, There are many good Noongar people who could be recruited, I’m disinclined to name names here.

    This by-election should be a WA focused contest of big ideas and Michael Gannon for the Libs would present a good contest.

    Who’s the best the Greens have to offer? Bring it on.

  15. I know the margin’s only 3.3% but the idea that – in the current political climate in WA – the Liberals have even a snowball’s chance in hell of winning Perth ought to be laughed out of court.

  16. I think the Liberals can win the Perth by-election with a good candidate who appeals to the small ‘l’ Liberals who are common in inner city electorates such as Perth. Plus I bet a fair number of voters would be annoyed by Hammond resigning and forcing a by-election.\

    Such a result could potentially shut up the “Tony Abbott was right crowd” and the Social Conservatives for a little while.

  17. meher baba
    No, Social Democratic is the entire ALP. It’s the stupidity of using “right-wing” and “left-wing” to define internal members of the ALP that must stop. Leave the “right-wing” label to define the members of the Coalition in contrast to the Social Democratic Labor.

    Always happy to keep people up to dated with reality.

  18. Easy Labor hold, tho the contest could be much closser if the Liberals don’t run and the WA independent parties run i.e. Put WA First (chas hopkins) or the Western Australia Party, who could pick up alot of the GST anger votes.

  19. The Religious Right have taken over the “Liberal” Party in Victoria, led by Sukkar

    As Malcom Fraser said “the Liberal Party is no longer a Liberal Party”

    Voters should be reminded of who controls the “Liberal” Party over and over and over

    “Do you want to be governed by a Religious Right political party with the agenda they have for society?”

  20. Despite all speculation and alleged toing and froing and faction friction, The West Australian is reporting this morning that Gorman will be the candidate.

    It says Evans did not want to move.

  21. We could be seeing a potential super Saturday of by-elections if a whole bunch of Labor MP’s resign as a result of today’s High Court decision. We could see by-elections for Perth, Fremantle, Braddon, Mayo and Longman being held on the same day.

  22. Are Labour for real? Choosing a candidate for the state by election with credential uncertainty – seriously!! Whoever is in charge of pre selection needs to have a good think about what they have done!!

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