Western Australia’s state redistribution process has been completed, without making any major changes to the minimalist approach that was unveiled when the draft boundaries were published in July. There have apparently been “a limited number of changes to the original proposals”, but they haven’t made it easy to see where – no geospatial data has been provided, and any acknowledgement of them must be buried somewhere in the report’s discussion of the submissions that were received.
If there are any changes worth remarking on, they relate to two changes in name from the draft proposals. Thankfully, the commissioners have decided not to proceed with a plan to have a new electorate in the northern suburbs called Kingsway right next door to an existing electorate called Kingsley. Rather, the new seat will take the name of Landsdale. Another potential point of confusion has been removed a little further to the south, in that an electorate that was to be called Girrawheen will instead be called Mirrabooka. It can now be said that Landsdale is the successor to abolished Girrawheen, while Mirrabooka maintains continuity with the redrawn electorate of the same name. Had the draft proposal remained intact, Labor’s likeliest approach would have been to “move” Girrawheen MP Margaret Quirk to Kingsway/Landsdale (though she may instead retire), and Janine Freeman from Mirrabooka to Girrawheen. Now, Freeman can, in a sense, “stay put”.
I’ll come up with my own full accounting in due course, but that will be redundant for most purposes as Antony Green has sprung into action with his own set of estimated margins. His calculations include one notable difference with my own in that the northern suburbs seat of Joondalup, which Labor’s Emily Hamilton gained by a 0.6% margin in 2017, is rated as now being notionally Liberal with a margin of 0.4%, whereas I had it as 0.1% in favour of Labor (UPDATE: Antony has revised his numbers, and Joondalup is now fractionally on the Labor side of the pendulum). Neighbouring Hillarys, a 4.1% Liberal seat that I reckoned to be absolutely lineball when the draft was published, is credited by Antony with a 0.6% Liberal margin.
This and other actual and potential redistributions are the subject of a podcast on which I appeared with Ben Raue of The Tally Room, which you can listen to below. My focus is on the changes in the northern suburbs, particularly to Balcatta, Burns Beach and Wanneroo, all of which have been strengthened for Labor. Joondalup wasn’t discussed, the feeling being that anything with that narrow a margin is likely to revert to the Liberals after the once-in-a-generation Labor landslide in 2017.
Since there isn’t a huge amount to discuss in the redistribution, I encourage the thread below to be used to discuss Western Australian state politics generally. The subject hasn’t had much of a run on this blog since the 2017 election, in which time there has been a grand total of one published opinion poll. Last month the Liberals were circulating highly bullish internal polling, but it had an implausibly wide split in its gender breakdowns. The Liberals have been using these to promote the notion that Liza Harvey, who succeeded Mike Nahan as leader in June, has been a big hit with the “soccer moms” of Perth’s suburbs. The state of the Western Australian economy certainly gives the Liberals some cause for optimism, although there are signs emerging that it may be turning around.
However, the Liberals’ hopes of exploiting this are being complicated by the euthanasia laws that have been stuck in parliament for the last few months, which have consumed most of the oxygen available for state politics in the media. Grumblings are accordingly emerging within the party about the role of conservative powerbroker Nick Goiran in keeping the legislation stalled in the Legislative Council. Besides a huge majority, Labor has some other points in its favour: the state’s credit ratings have improved since the government came to office, with S&P Global recently providing an assessment of the situation that the government might well have written itself; and local monopoly newspaper The West Australian, while as conservative as ever in most respects, is showing little of the hostility towards Labor that blighted it during its last tenure in office.