Western Australian election guide

Introducing the Poll Bludger’s painstaking and voluminous guide to the March 13 Western Australian state election.

After more hours of labour than I care to think about, the Poll Bludger’s guide to the Western Australian election is now open for business. I like to think these guides are always pretty good, but some are better than others and this, I am quite sure, is my best ever. The historical scope of the profiles of each of the 59 lower house seats and six upper house regions is without precedent and has, I like to think, been accomplished without sacrifice to clarity and readability. Also featured is a beginners’ guide to the election reviewing the electoral terrain and the political state of play over the past four years.

All of the familiar bells and whistles are present, including charts and tables detailing past results and, best of all, interactive maps showing polling booth results from the previous election. These include an exciting (to me at least) new feature: when you click on one of the polling booth icons that indicate the winning party and size of their two-party vote, a pop-up appears with a table neatly displaying full results on primary vote and two-party preferred.

I’ve also done a lot of work improving the coding and general architecture, which may not be immediately noticeable to the general reader but will greatly reduce the amount of time I have to devote to technical work on election guides to come. If all this is of any professional or entertainment value to you, I encourage you to consider rewarding my efforts through a donation, which you can do by clicking the “become a supporter” button at the top of the page or the bottom of the post.

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.

48 comments on “Western Australian election guide”

  1. Blimey. A further 10% swing to Labor and you will be able to swing a cat in the phone booth when the Liberals are holding party meetings.

  2. I must admit I’m not an expert in WA state politics. But you don’t have to be to know Labor will be the overwhelming favorite in this campaign.

    Its already gone off to a shaky start for the Liberals. As one of their candidates was forced to resign for a opinion piece suggesting a conspiracy theory around the coronavirus. Another candidate was shielded from questions from her leader. The questions surround her husband a Christian pastor comments that homosexuals can be ‘cleansed’ and that Christian women should “submit to their husband.”.

    Interestingly former Liberal state MP and leadership contender Joe Francis won’t be trying to return to state parliament. He isn’t recontesting his old seat of Jandakot that he lost at the last state election in 2017.

  3. Find it very interesting that there’s no polls published at this point, surely every other WA state election prior would have had a poll or two published 6 weeks out…

    I’m guessing this indicates the 2PP is probably in 60/40 territory or greater…

  4. It does seem as though the Libs are likely to get a whack but it is, after all, a two horse race. Some see McGowan and “arrogant” and would vote against him in any event.

    There are enough Libs in WA to keep a heap of Federal seats in their hands and Labor always struggles to get keep more than about 5…………I suspect the rusted-ons Libs (and their on-and-off coalition partners the NP) to probably lead to status quo in actual seats held come March 10.

    However, Kirkup is on a very thin margin himself and could well be looking for a new job if only just a few in his electorate go with McGowan. Not a good time to be in opposition on Oz at the moment…Worse, Kirkup’s campaign is currently in shambles due some blunders of some his his candidates……If things go as badly as some predict even a min-bus will be over capacity……

  5. Coming off a very bad result in 2017, the Liberals cannot afford to lose any seats in this election. There is no question that this election is out of reach for them, they need to ensure a respectable enough showing that 2025 is not out of reach. The start of the year isn’t looking good, having kicked off the campaign with two clangers courtesy of poor candidate selection, and they’re struggling to find candidates to run in seats like West Swan.

    Problematically for the Liberals, they are not just fighting for a status quo result, they are having to actively defend otherwise safe seats. Darling Range, Hillaries, Dawsville, and Geralton are otherwise safe seats that Labor would be disappointed not to pick up two of four, and the Liberals would be very nervous in Riverton and Scarborough.

    Possible losses for Labor are traditional Liberal/National seats of Pilbara and Murray Wellington, but both of these will most likley fall to the Nationals.

  6. The wheels are coming off for the Liberals

    They’re about to loose a second candiate in a week due to poor candidate selection: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/election-2016-liberal-a-former-christian-democrat-with-hardline-abortion-stance-20160617-gpl7gq.html?fbclid=IwAR11Eb3rIPYGPRu_OCsxUzemXkt9RiQ9pD65fFjfcHlIwWKy0D-kFnVWXj8

    “In a series of Facebook posts, Ms Markham variously describes herself as a nurse and an intensive care nurse, while the Tasmanian Liberal Party has described her as a critical-care nurse.

    In fact, her registration as a nurse has lapsed and she began work as a Liberal staffer to a Tasmanian state government minister following the 2014 state election.”

    The first minute of this video is a shocker: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=3587990467903222&ref=watch_permalink

    Donna Faragher clearly wants to be anywhere but there, and Zac is playing with fire ordering Libby Mettam around.

  7. However, Kirkup is on a very thin margin himself and could well be looking for a new job if only just a few in his electorate go with McGowan. Not a good time to be in opposition on Oz at the moment…Worse, Kirkup’s campaign is currently in shambles due some blunders of some his his candidates……If things go as badly as some predict even a min-bus will be over capacity……

    It does seem strange the Liberals went with Zak Kirkup instead of Dean Nalder. Nalder at 54 is significantly more experienced the Kirkup at 33 and is in a much safer seat. He has the luxury of campaigning without worrying about losing his seat.

    However, I’m only looking on face value and I’m not judging on who is a better performer. As I don’t follow WA state politics too closely. I know there was anger among some WA Liberals that Kirkup was chosen as Nalder didn’t have the numbers.

    Nalder announced he isn’t recontesting his seat at the next election in December.

  8. The only seats that I think the Liberals are near certain to win are Cottesloe, Vasse and Churchlands. I’m not aware of any publicly released statewide polls for over 2 years, however seat by seat polls when Liza Harvey was leader suggested huge swings of 10%+ are very possible.

    So yes it sounds ridiculous but I wouldn’t be surprised to see jewels in the Liberal crown like Nedlands and South Perth won by Labor at this election.

  9. The election will be about confidence in relation to covid. There is a question mark over the Liberal approach to border closures. There is no similar doubt about the approach of Labor/MacGowan. This alone will ensure a landslide for Labor. The electorate is very well aware that things could have been quite different in relation to covid were it not for the tight decision making shown by MacGowan.

    They’re also aware that MacGowan has had to contend with criticism from the Liberals – especially Morrison – and to fight a High Court case against the Lib-in-all-but-name, the detestable scoundrel, Clive Palmer. Voting for MacGowan is implicitly a vote for State rights in this case. There are very few things more popular in WA than giving the bird to know-alls from the East coast. Morrison has been sledging WA. The Liberals will regret every word he has uttered.

    I think the Liberals could easily lose nearly all their seats. Voters will want to endorse MacGowan and rebuke the Liberals. It’s a very easy choice to make for most people.

  10. Surely the most vital contest is in the Upper House with its rural malapportionment. At just 14 seats plus an unreliable 4 Greens out of a house of 36, Labor needs an extra progressive seat from somewhere -maybe from North Metro – to change the voting laws and finally end the establishment’s hold on power. This time I hope the Greens don’t adopt their own selfish vision that what is in their perceived best interest must also relate to WA’s best interest. Rural malapportionment means either fewer rural seats or more urban seats, or a bit of both. Either way, I’d prefer to see an end to the regions with the state voting as one electorate – akin to the Senate vote. That may not be too popular, though.

  11. The gerrymander in the Upper House is a disgrace but then who is surprised at whose interests are looked after with the malapportionment of votes in this chamber?…
    While miners got dirty and did not make much money in Kalgoorlie back in the day, maybe Labo(u)r, but not now. The rural dog and minor parties still influence where most of WA lives – that is Perth……

  12. The latest opinion poll for the WA state election was apparently published on 12 August 2018…

    Somebody must be dead scared of polling Western Australians…. do they bite?

  13. https://www.pollbludger.net/2021/01/30/western-australian-election-guide-2/#comment-3549520

    An undivided would only be sort of like the Senate because there are multiple states in the Senate and it is also divided (usually by time) into two separate set of terms (arguably 12 sets of terms, although each set of 6 terms has not even been out of alignment with each other, although that is theoretically possible) and the House of Reps linked territories` Senator terms.

    Both South Australia and New South Wales, which have a single statewide electorate for their Legislative Councils, divide their Legislative Councils into 2 sets of terms by time, something abolished in Western Australia (and Victoria) when proportional representation was introduced.

    The single electorate in South Australia is at the upper reasonable limit of candidate based voting and the Western Australian Legislative Council is larger. The New South Wales Legislative Council single electorate is overlarge and provides no regional constraint on preselection.

  14. It did not at take long………….the Liberal supporting whingers were out and about telling us how much egg McGowan has on his face……Suffice to say, the Libs have thrown their lot in with the general response, as has the AMA, so these sour souls who are still a noisy minority group…..

  15. Very little if it all goes back to square one after Friday. The Liberal opposition is more or less supporting the government’s actions so not much room for the whingers to have much influence…..

  16. My predictions are:
    Labor gains:
    North West Central
    Darling Range

    Murray – Wellington

  17. Joe Francis found a much better and more secure gig than being a WA Liberal MP.
    One of many with liberal links appointed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal by Christian Porter.

  18. Thanks William, the more recent The Western Australian and the Utting Research polls seem to confirm the good position for the ALP.

  19. There was a robopoll on WA politics done in the last few days by uComms. Not sure if voting intention was polled, as I was busy when called and had to hang up.

    As for the outcome of the election, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that Labor will be returned, probably with a 3-5% swing in their favour. Some of the sheen has come off since the height of McGowan’s approval, but as others have said here, giving the bird to the know-it-alls over east remains popular, and the Liberals remain unpopular.

    I tip that Hillarys, Dawesville and Geraldton will fall to the ALP.

    Of more importance will be the upper house result – hopefully Labor + Greens will be a majority and have the nerve to get rid of the increasingly intolerable gerrymander of the upper house, as well as the eminently rortable Group Voting Tickets.

  20. I have mentioned elsewhere that I have been robopolled twice in last few weeks.
    Second poll was seat specific. I live in Riverton where labor is making big effort.
    Having indentified me as a sympathiser while door knocking the campaign even brought McGowan around for a photo op the other day.
    Honoured I was.

  21. Joe Francis found a much better and more secure gig than being a WA Liberal MP.
    One of many with liberal links appointed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal by Christian Porter.

    Yeah I saw that. Just one of the many Liberal stacked appointments done by Christian Porter. Porter really is a creep with no moral compass or sense of fairness.

    I read too Joe Francis tried to seek out support to replace Mathias Cormann in the senate after his state career ended. But nothing came of it.

  22. Thanks for the election guide. It’s not exactly the way I thought I’d be spending my Monday morning though! A welcome distraction none the less. Everyone is in a bit of shock over here now that we’ve been put into lockdown. Let’s hope there has been no community transmission. Maybe quarantine security and health workers should be isolated from the community as if they are positive, that way if one does catch it on the job there will be much less risk of them spreading it to others.

  23. Lower house… hmm.

    Firstly, the Libs aren’t going to lose Nedlands, Cottesloe, Churchlands, South Perth or Bateman. That’s their old-money base and it isn’t going anywhere. Vasse is probably in the same category… if Troy Buswell couldn’t lose this seat, it can’t be lost. So, that’s six.

    Of the rest:

    Geraldton starts off as lost (to the Nats), so I’d be surprised if they won it. Either Labor (if it stays a Labor/Lib top two), or if the Libs drop to third they could help the Nats win. (Depending on what they do with their HTV… the local Libs can’t be too happy with Ian Blayney for defecting.)

    Dawesville is pretty marginal, and it’s pretty similar to seats like Caloundra and Hervey Bay in Queensland (which Labor won last year). I’m tipping Labor.

    Kalgoorlie: probably Libs, but who knows. It looks safe on 2pp, but the Libs won it with less than 30% of the primary vote. It depends on what happens to the One Nation / Shooters vote from last time.

    Darling Range is more suburban than it used to (does it have anything in common with the pre-2008 version any more?), so just going by the amount Labor won it by in 2017 they should win it again. They’re lucky covid is making people forget about Barry Urban.

    In Perth: Riverton, Scarborough and Hillarys have all been held by Labor in the past (sometimes under former names), and even Carine was back in the 70’s. (Funny to think Carine used to be the mortgage belt!) Hillarys probably looks worse for the Libs because of Rob Johnson running in 2017, which won’t be a problem this time, but even without that, it’s got enough public housing areas (Craigie, Beldon) to give Labor a shot. Scarbs and Riverton are further up the pendulum but Labor might get lucky with one or the other.

    Labor should hold all their current seats, although Albany’s worth keeping an eye on with Peter Watson retiring. (Maybe the Greens in Freo, now that people are starting to forget about Adele Carles – that “tent city” mess over the last month might make things interesting.) Any seats the Nats won in 2017 are safe, but Geraldton will be interesting.

    So, recap:

    Labor: 44-45 (all current + Darling Range, Hillarys, Dawesville, Geraldton*, one of Riverton/Scarborough).

    Libs: 9, Nats: 5-6.

  24. Upper house:

    Labor+Greens would’ve had a majority if not for the LDP accidentally winning a seat in South Metro. The Libs probably find it pretty amusing, but next time it’ll be one of their own seats they lose. Then they’ll sue them to get their name changed.

    Also, via Antony Green:


    The Daylight Saving Party changed their name to “National Liberals”, and that stupid Flux thing is now called “Liberals for Climate”. Apparently, that’s… not illegal? If it’s allowed to stand, then they’ll grab a few % of confused Lib votes for Glenn Druery’s microparty pinata, so expect more of those weirdos. Hopefully it doesn’t end up like Vic 2018.

    There’s a few MLCs moving around this election. Labor: Alannah MacTiernan (NM to SW), Pierre Yang (SM to NM). Shooters: Rick Mazza is also moving to SW, which puts him up against One Nation.

    Ka-ren Chew, the Lib #3 in South Metro, has run for the CDP a few times (Hasluck 2007 and 2010, Murdoch by-election 2007). Henri Chew (I’m guessing he’s her husband, he works at the same legal firm) also ran for them (Willagee by-election 2009, Carine 2008). Phil Twiss (Lib #2 in East Metro) ran for what’s now called Australian Christians in Hasluck in 2016). Nick Goiran’s trying to build an empire.

    Peter Lyndon-James in East Metro (runs a detox clinic in the Swan Valley, been in the paper a few times) has a pile of bin ads on Albany Hwy down near Armadale. If he gets a few % he might be in the mix for the inevitable microparty seat. He was elected to Swan council in 2017 but quit after about a year.

  25. Look what I found, from back in 2013:


    A comment near the bottom of the page, from (his words):

    Phil Twiss (obviously conservative nut job and religious fanatic because I have 8 kids, been happily married for more than five minutes and think homosexual “marriage” and shariah law in Australia are not on. AKA hater, denier, bigot, et al)

    PS. thought I had better get the insults in first.

    It ain’t 2013 anymore, and gay marriage most certainly is on (it even happened under a prime minister from his new party). Anyone wanna ask him if he still stands by this?

  26. Alas, it’s only a Painted Dog Research job, and with a sample of 433 at that (conducted yesterday):

    The first survey of the five-day lockdown showed 72 per cent of respondents rated the State Government’s management of hotel quarantine as good (45 per cent) or excellent (28 per cent).

    With less than six weeks until the election, 15 per cent said the State’s response was average, 9 per cent believed it was poor and 4 per cent thought it was very poor …

    Amid widespread rumour about an extension to the lockdown, 71 per cent of those surveyed believed the harsh restrictions would last longer than the initial five days.

    One-in-four were braced for the stay-at-home orders for those living in Perth, Peel and the South West to last two weeks.

    There was near universal support for mandatory face masks outdoors, with 85 per cent planning to cover-up every time they leave home and 10 per cent most of the time.

    Anti-maskers accounted for 3 per cent of respondents, with women more compliant with the emergency direction than men.

    Only 60 per cent had bought masks before Sunday’s announcement, with 21 per cent rushing to the shops to stock up afterwards and 19 per cent still mask-less.

    Older West Australians were the most prepared for this week’s scare (70 per cent), while people aged 18-39 were more likely to source masks after the lockdown order.


  27. I live in Swan Hills & the City of Swan, Henderson has a long history of bat shit crazy and is a serial candidate. He’s got no hope even if the election was being held under normal circumstances.

  28. Grimace

    I guess the liberals can’t find good candidates for seats they can’t win. Same thinking is how they end up with Kirkup as LOTO. Nobody with talent is interested.

  29. @ Rossmcg

    I have professional dealings with a Liberal candidate for an unwinnable in any circumstances seat. He’s a good and decent person who should have been run in a winnable seat.

    It must be soul destroying for him and others like him to be relegated to unwinnable seats when oxygen thrives like Henderson run in winnable seats.

  30. I was staggered to see Rod Henderson as a Liberal candidate in what is normally a marginal seat. Shows what has become of the WA Liberal Party really…the branches are now largely controlled by hard right Christians and conspiracy theorists. Does there come a time when normal middle of the road conservatives walk away? Probably not.

    Hoping the ALP holds all their seats and then picks up a few, although I worry the recent lockdown may have taken the gloss of MM.

    Jandakot, Albany and Murray Wellington probably the only ALP seats with cause for concern.

    Am hopeful in Hillarys…a very energetic and personable young candidate, and the ALP has managed to throw a lot of resources at it which is a huge contrast to previous elections.

  31. Carps

    Hope you right about Hillarys .
    I recall that Katsambounis had only been in the Legislative Council five minutes when the local liberal media cheersquad we’re talking him up and saying he needed to be in the lower house.
    With Collier, Cormann and Goodenough driving the wagon it was only a matter of time.

  32. @rossmcg,

    Would be great to win Hillarys for many reasons, with knocking off Katsimbanis one of the main ones. Some of his comments during the debates on euthanasia and also the gay marriage referendum were awful. Not content with living his own life in accordance with his religion, he also insists that everyone else does too.

    I know that ALP head office decided to throw some extra staff and money at the seat a few weeks back. Just hope events of the last week haven’t stalled that effort. But if it’s ever going to happen, I guess it will be this time!

  33. Hard to. Believe a 10% uniform swing…. If it does happen and there. And not many seats switch sides.. Then there must be big. Swings in marginal seats…. This may impact specially in country seats who want a mp in govt

  34. Shower thoughts:

    Mark McGowan was elected at the same election Alan Carpenter was. He’s been in parliament longer than just about anyone, since 1996. Michelle Roberts has been in since 1994, and I think that’s it. If the covid situation gets sorted out, I wouldn’t be surprised if he resigned halfway through next term. He’ll have earned it.

    If the Liberals lose Scarborough and Darling Range, they’ll be left with exactly one woman in the lower house. If they also lose their second seat in South Metro to some micro-right preference snowball, they’ll have two women in the entire parliament – Donna Faragher and Libby Mettam.

    If the Nats get more seats than the Libs in the lower house, would they get to be the opposition? Or would it be a weird situation like CLP vs Territory Alliance last year in the NT?

  35. I’m interested in how things have changed over the last couple of months as McGowan’s approach to Covid has changed, and Covid itself has changed. His popularity last year was because of his firm stance in keeping the borders closed, I’m wondering if he may suffer at all for having given in to pressure to wind that back to only blocking some states and not others and relying on contact tracing instead, or for the failures in hotel quarantine. We had it good here in WA last year, I’m wondering if people still feel the same?

  36. I’ve been told that this term McGowan is going to rejig the election boundaries to essentially eliminate the Nats at the next election. Can anyone comment on that?

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