Western Australia redistributed (state)

A draft new set of state boundaries in Western Australia produces little to frighten the horses.


Over the fold is a table showing an almost-complete set of Labor-versus-Liberal/Nationals two-party margins, excluding a few seats where the 2017 result was Liberal-versus-Nationals (Moore and Roe) or Labor-versus-independent (Baldivis). This treats Kingsway as the successor to Girrawheen, and Girrawheen as the successor to Mirrabooka. I am now calculating the Labor margin in Kingsway at 9.1%, which is modest enough that Labor would lose the seat at a bad election, like 2013. This amounts to a 7.6% cut in the old margin from Girrawheen – so if, as I suggested, Labor runs Margaret Quirk in Kingsway and gives Girrawheen to Janine Freeman, who is technically homeless with the abolition of Mirrabooka, Quirk would consider that regrettable.

As noted in the original version of this post (also over the fold), Labor has been short-changed by the redistribution’s determination to preserve the existing number of country seats, but finds ample consolation in a number of helpful revisions to marginal seats:

• Labor’s margin in Balcatta, which the party lost for the one and only time in 2013, goes from 5.8% to 8.0%, as it loses marginal territory (at least on 2017 results) in the north to Kingsley and gains Labor territory in the east from Mirrabooka.

• The change just noted to Kingsley also nudges the dial there very slightly in Labor’s favour, from 0.7% to 1.2%.

• In Burns Beach, the loss of territory in the south to Joondalup and gain in the north from Butler boosts Labor from 2.5% to 4.9%.

• No doubt the 2017 election is as bad as it will ever get for the Liberals in Hillarys, but I am calculating that Labor would have won it in 2017 by the barest of margins, after falling 4.1% short at the election. Marginal territory has been gained in the north from Joondalup, and Liberal territory in the south has gone to Carine.

• The transfer of part of Liberal-voting Leeming to Riverton in the north boosts Labor from 1.0% to 2.0% in Jandakot.

• Tweaking of the boundary with Fremantle improves Labor’s margin in Bicton from 2.9% to 3.6%.

• A territory swap with West Swan boosts Labor from 7.3% to 9.2% in Wanneroo.

• An exchange of rural territory in the south for Mandurah’s fringes in the north boosts Labor from 1.4% to 2.3% in Murray-Wellington.


• In Joondalup, which gains in the north from Burns Beach and loses in the south to Hillarys, Labor’s margin is reduced from 0.6% to 0.1%.

• In Swan Hills, a Labor margin of 14.5%, which belies its history as a tight marginal seat, reduces to 12.0%, as Ellenbrook suburbia is exchanged for parts of the Swan Valley.

Original post

Draft boundaries have been published for a state redistribution in Western Australia, which can be perused here, and is a rather minimalist affair. Most importantly, no change has been made between the city-country balance, with tolerances strained to their limits in a number of cases to keep things as they are. This is good news for the conservatives, and especially for the Nationals. However, the boundary changes within the metropolitan area appear to the advantage of Labor.

The biggest change is that a new electorate of Kingsway is to be created out of parts of Wanneroo, West Swan and Girrawheen (expect to hear complaints about the potential for confusion with neighbouring Kingsley), and Girrawheen is being pushed south to absorb most of Mirrabooka, which is abolished. This whole area is Labor territory – I’m calculating the Labor margin in Kingsway at 10.2% – and the disruption could presumably be sorted by moving Girrawheen MP Margaret Quirk to Kingsway and Mirrabooka MP Janine Freeman to Girrawheen.

The knock-on effects from all this, while modest, look to be consistently favourable for Labor. To compensate for its losses to Kingsway, Wanneroo is pushed westwards into territory formerly in West Swan. I’m calculating that this is slightly to Labor’s advantage in what is naturally a marginal seat, increasing their margin from 7.3% to 8.8%.

Kingsley, a normally Liberal-held seat that was one of the high water marks of the Labor landslide, extends south into territory formerly in Balcatta, which by my reckoning bumps the margin from 0.7% to 1.2%. Balcatta, naturally a Labor-leaning margin, takes a slice out of Mirrabooka in the east, which gives Labor a handy boost from 5.8% to 8.0%.

South of the river, a patch of Liberal-voting Leeming is shifted from the very tight Labor seat of Jandakot to safe Liberal Riverton, increasing Labor’s margin in the former from 1.0% to 1.9%.

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.

8 comments on “Western Australia redistributed (state)”

  1. This should provide clues for the impending WA federal redistribution (including which federal seat is most likely to be abolished). Any thoughts/predictions?

  2. This is a pretty disappointing effort. Instead of dealing with the metro/non-metro imbalance, they’ve entrenched it. The commissioners could have either created a new metro seat or a new hybrid seat, they did neither.

    Even within the non-metro area, they’ve used the full extent of the permitted deviations to pack too many voters into the South West region and too few into the MP/Agg regions. Kimberley and North West Central are in a sense doubly malapportioned. Not only do they have a huge ‘large district allowance’ factor, but even with that factored in they’ve had to use the 20% deviation rather than the standard 10%. The two seats combined have less actual voters than any seat outside the MP/Agg regions.

    Kakuru – It provides little clue for the federal redistribution, which operates under different rules. (No large district allowance, tighter deviations, no hard boundary between the urban and metro areas.)

  3. Good news for David Michael who is a good local rep who I have supported.

    Can’t the ALP find anyone better than Quirk?

  4. DW,

    Yes they certainly seem to have gone the minimalist route here. Although tbf, abolishing a rural seat was difficult because of the LDA and Regional boundaries. Perhaps they could at least add a bit more of South-West (either Collie or the Denmark area) to Agricultural to balance the numbers a bit better.

    There might be a few tidy-ups to boundaries, but it’s clear that they have no intention of making major changes this time, so the scope of Objections will probably be very limited.

  5. I suppose the corpse of the Liberal party in WA might actually be able to get up and walk at the next election but with the Liberal for Geraldton jumping ship without hardly a boo from Lisa, I would not put money on it.
    Despite the short-term memory of the electorate, I suspect all the Emperor Colin will be remembered for was the $38 billion of debt he left (rarely mentioned in Liberal circles of course), a pretty stadium and lots of expensive sports arenas/dunnies around the bush because the Nationals were able to pork-barrel Royalties for Regions – over a billion there I seem to remember.
    Added to this is the likely exposure of Morrison as just a plain old run-of-the-mill car salesman, and the economy likely to be in some trouble, will allow the “bash the Feds” theme as one more thing Labor should have at its disposal to hammer the LNP with here in WA come election time.
    The lack of balance in the Upper House between country and metro seats has yet to be addressed…………and, of course, will never happen with the LNP in government.

  6. Yeah. They should shrink the SW and Agricultural. Make Mining & Pastoral and, Agricultural each 5 electorates.
    That would mean moving Albany, Denmark and a bit more from SW into Agricultural . Probably most of the Wheatbelt north and east of a line from Geraldton to Albany line would end up in Mining & Pastoral. :-\

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