Ain’t no party like a west coast party

Numerous electoral and political developments from Western Australia, as the McGowan government moves into the business end of its four-year term.

There’s a fair bit of psephological interest to relate from Western Australia right at the moment:

• A bill to abolish group ticket voting for the upper house, which now persists only in Western Australia and Victoria, has been introduced by the Greens. Nick Butterly of The West Australian reports it is likely to receive support from the Coalition, One Nation and Shooters and Fishers – but not from Labor, which apparently has its own plans to use the measure as a bargaining chip to gain support for reform to the chamber’s egregious malapportionment, whereby some rural voters enjoy more than six times as much representation per head as those in the city.

• The party composition of the Legislative Council underwent a change last night after one of its three One Nation members, Charles Smith, announced he would follow the well-worn path of walking out on the party to sit as an independent. Thanks to the aforementioned rural malapportionment, Labor does not enjoy anything near the Council majority that was available to the Barnett government through its two terms in office, despite the scale of its landslide win in 2017. The numbers in the 36-seat chamber are now Labor 14, Liberal nine, Nationals four, Greens four, One Nation two, and one apiece for Shooters Fishers and Farmers, the Liberal Democrats and Charles Smith.

• Talk is mounting that Mike Nahan, who turns 69 next month and has always had the look of a post-defeat seat warmer, will shortly vacate the Liberal leadership. Despite denials, The West Australian today reports that “senior Liberals believed Dr Nahan was considering stepping down, possibly before the coming winter parliamentary break”. Former Deputy Premier and Scarborough MP Liza Harvey has always been considered his most likely replacement, having declined to contest the leadership after the election citing family reasons. However, Churchlands MP Sean L’Estrange and Bateman MP Dean Nalder have also been mentioned as possibilities.

• A redistribution process is currently under way, with draft boundaries to be published between July 10 and July 31.

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.

13 comments on “Ain’t no party like a west coast party”

  1. The very serious issue for WA is no who leads the Liberals, but the very poor conditions in the local economy, which is in a prolonged slump. It’s worse now than at any time since WW2.

  2. If Labor wants to use Group Ticket Voting as a bargaining chip to end malapportionment then the other parties should simply agree to get rid of both and find out if Labor is serious about doing likewise (as it should be).

  3. The Liberals can obviously scent a chance of victory in the State election, due in 18 months. Unless Labor address the weakness – the contraction – in the economy, they will very likely lose.

  4. Malapportionment should go.

    If group ticket voting goes in WA, it will only be left in Victorian Legislative Council and the Melbourne City Council, where they look like staying for some time.

  5. The Liberals won’t support changes to the gerrymander because they need the Nationals.
    So, if the ALP want to change it they need the Greens and some Crossbenchers to support them.
    I don’t see any of the crossbenchers supporting it.

  6. I have never understood the anti-group voting ticket cult, except perhaps for Green’s physical factors (and no we couldn’t possibly think of a better solution to manage the font and paper size of the ballot) all the arguments are ‘voters are dumb and uninformed’ and it is hilarious to see those same cult members asserting voters are never tricked by anything every time someone gets caught doing something illegal or dishonest in a campaign.

    But the weird cult aside if Labor could clean up the upper house mess McGinty left us in exchange for conceding to the cult it would be a great win and a fairly trivial loss (if it is actually a loss at all, while labor brains may well think they are inspired genius with their wheeler dealing they seem to lose from it as often as they win). Then there is only shopping hours and the absurdity that my local coles won’t open until 11 today, which dates back to another Jim brain fade.

  7. I’m confident of the jobs pipeline in WA.

    Downstream lithium production is happening and Labor have a credible policy to get all stages of lithium production short of battery manufacture done in WA.

    Woodside are are expected to announce FID for the enormous Pluto 2 gas project next year and Alcoa have announced investment of over a billion dollars in their Peel region (just south of Perth) bauxite and alumina operations.

    Labor have turned Perth into a giant construction zone and a will have a good story to tell leading into the March 2021 election with a number of high profile projects being completed and a number of others, including all high profile Metronet rail expansion projects being under construction.

    One of the elephants in the room will be the future of the coal mining and power generating town of Collie, with 800MW of the town’s 1,500MW of coal generation reaching end of life in 2025/26.


    The biggest problem with the 1984-2015 group voting ticket system was that it deprived voters of the ability to chose their own preferences, by party/group, in a an easy and widely understood manner. They were given the choice between choosing a group`s box or numbering a very large number of boxes (in larger states, over 100), essentially extorting control of preferences. Given that the vast majority of voters vote by party/group, allowing above the line preferences gives them the ability to preference by party/group in an easy widely understood manner, very similar to the way they control their own preferences in the House of Reps and at least one chamber of their state/territory parliament. This gives voters the power, not backroom negotiations.

    The system has also effectively removed group`s abilities to send the preferences of their voters to candidates more ideologically different from their voters than some of the candidates preferences were directed away from. It was a reasonably easy reform, unlike reforms to punish candidates for misleading voters about anything.

    The ALP regularly lost through it GTV preferences deals, mistaking doing over the Greens/Stirling Griff usually for a pipe dream of a Senate where they needed neither the Greens or the Coalition to pass votes.

  9. WWP, it’s pretty ballsy of you to describe literally every single person who is remotely recognisable as an authority on the subject you’re discussing a “weird cult”.

  10. Group Ticket Voting is very easily ‘gamed’. Although I prefer the expectation that people number every box above the line, opposing the GTV’s is about giving voters back control over their own votes.
    I also think hybrid votes mixing above and below the line, when the intention is unambiguous, should be valid votes.

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