Welcome to episode 11 of Seat du jour, an opportunity for you to read about and (hopefully) discuss the individual contests that will determine the May 18 election. So far the series has taken us to Herbert, Banks, Corangamite, Chisholm, Reid, Bass, Pearce, Lindsay, Gilmore, Dickson and La Trobe. Today we take our second journey to Western Australia, where the low base Labor is starting from presents it with a number of opportunities. Based on margins alone, the most golden of these is Hasluck, for which the Poll Bludger election guide entry can be found here.
Hasluck encompasses the eastern suburbs centres of Midland, Kalamunda and Forrestfield, and semi-rural territory beyond Perth’s metropolitan limits. Labor’s strongest areas are around Midland and the north and Kenwick in the south, both of which are marked by low median incomes, although the latter is less established and contains a large share of mortgage-paying young families. These areas are balanced by Liberal support around Kalamunda and in the semi-rural areas, which have an older age profile and are singularly lacking in ethnic diversity.
The seat changed hands at every election from its creation in 2001 through to 2013, when Liberal member Ken Wyatt broke the jinx after taking the seat from Labor in 2010. Wyatt added 4.3% to his margin amid the national swing against Labor in 2013, then had a 1.1% boost with the creation of the new seat of Burt, to which Hasluck ceded strong territory for Labor around Thornlie, Gosnells and Southern River. The seat was then brought well back inside the marginal zone by a 4.0% swing to Labor in 2016.
Ken Wyatt is a former director of the Office of Aboriginal Health, and became the first ever self-identifying indigenous member of the House of Representatives with his election in 2010. He has since progressed to parliamentary secretary rank in September 2015, and to the outer ministry as Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister in December 2017. Wyatt is believed to have supported Malcolm Turnbull in the leadership votes against Tony Abbott in 2015 and Peter Dutton in 2018, and to have moved to the Morrison rather the Dutton camp for the second vote last August, in contrast to a number of his miscalculating WA colleagues. He is an uncle of Ben Wyatt, the Treasurer in the state Labor government. Labor’s candidate is James Martin, Mundaring Shire councillor and director of Marketech Ltd, a firm that develops stock market trading software.
Intelligence about Hasluck has been thin on the ground during the campaign, with no polling having come to light, either public or private. However, media reportage has tended to suggest the Liberals have gone from pessimistic to hopeful, reflecting the impression for the election more broadly.